Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tutius Ut Possit Figi

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.60, with an English rendering by George Wither. The dolphin is the friendly fish that helps men at sea; the dolphin's speed is a paradoxical complement to the anchor's steadiness, as Wither explains in the opening lines of his poem to accompany this emblem:
Ovr Elders, when their meaning was to shew
A native-speedinesse (in Emblem wise)
The picture of a Dolphin-Fish they drew;
Which, through the waters, with great swiftnesse, flies
An Anchor, they did figure, to declare
Hope, stayednesse, or a grave-deliberation:
And therefore when those two, united are,
It giveth us a two-fold Intimation.
You might notice the similarity to the famous emblem of the Aldine Press, with its motto of Festina lente.

Tutius Ut Possit Figi
Tutius ut possit figi maris anchora fundo,
Adiuvat humanam piscis amicus opem.

If Safely, thou desire to goe
Bee nor too swift, nor overslow.

Here is the vocabulary:

tutus - safe, protected
ut - so, so that, in order to
possum - can, be able
figo - fasten, fix, establish
mare - sea
anchora - anchor
fundus - bottom, lower part
adiuvo - help, aid
humanus - human (adj.)
piscis - fish
amicus - friendly, friend
ops - power, help, might