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The deer's full thrice the raven's race outrun :
A man had need be a good arithmetician, says Cynthio, to understand this author's works. His description runs on like a multiplication table. But methinks the poets ought to have agreed a little better in the calculations of a bird's life that was probably of their own creation.
We generally find a great confusion in the traditions of the ancients, says Philander. It seems to me, from the next medal*, it was an opinion among them, that the Phenix renewed herself at the beginning of the great year, and the return of the golden age. This opinion I find touched upon in a couple of lines in Claudian.
Quicquid ab externis ales longeeta colonis
CLAUD. de rapt. Pros. lib. 2.
The person in the midst of the circle is supposed to be Jupiter, by the author that has published this medal, but I should rather take it for the figure of
Time. I remember I have seen at Rome an antique statue of Time, with a wheel or hoop of marble in his hand, as Seneca describes him, and not with a serpent as he is generally represented.
Herc. fur. act. 1.
Life posts away,
• Fig. 14.
As the circle of marble in his hand represents the common year, so this that encompasses him is a proper representation of the great year, which is the whole round and comprehension of Time. For when this is finished, the heavenly bodies are supposed to begin their courses anew, and to measure over again the several periods and divisions of years, months, days, &c. into which the great year is distinguished,
c'onsumpto, Magnus qui dicitur, anno
To sum up, therefore, the thoughts of this medal. The inscription teaches us that the whole design must refer to the golden age, which it lively represents, if we suppose the circle that encompasses Time, or if you please Jupiter, signifies the finishing of the great year; and that the Phenix figures out the beginning of a new series of time. So that the compliment on this medal to the Emperor Adrian, is in all respects the same that Virgil makes to Pollio's son, at whose birth he supposes the annus magnus or Platonical year run out, and renewed again with the opening of the golden age.
Magnus ab integro saclorum nascitur ordo;
The time is come the Sibyls long foretold,
nunc adest mundo dies
Sen. Oet. at 2.
-The last great day is come,
When Saturn govern'd, and the world was young. You may compare the design of this reverse, if you please, with one of Constantine, so far as the Phenix is concerned in both. As for the other
As for the other figure, we may have occasion to speak of it in another place. Vid. 15 figure. King of France's medalions.
The next figure shadows out Eternity* to us, by the sun in one hand and the moon in the other, which in the language of sacred
of sacred poetry is as long as the sun and moon endureth." The heathens made choice of these lights as apt symbols of Eternity, because, contrary to all sublunary Beings, though they seem to perish every night, they renew themselves every morning
Soles occidere et ridere possunt ;
Horace, whether in imitation of Catullus or not, has applied the same thought to the moon; and that too. in the plural number.
Damna tamen celeres raparant cælestia luna:
Nos ubi decidimus
Hor. Od. 7. lib. 4.
(Though rich like one, like t'other good) To dust and shades, without a sun, Descend, and sink in dark oblivion's flood. Sir W. TEMPLE. In the next figure Eternity* sits on a globe of the heavens adorned with stars. We have already seen how proper an emblem of Eternity the globe is, and may find the duration of the stars made use of by the poets, as an expression of what is never like to end.
Stellas qui vividus æquas
Polus dum sidera puscet,
I might here tell you that Eternityt has a covering on her head, because we can never find out her beginning; that her legs are bare, because we see only those parts of her that are actually running on; thật she sits on a-globe and bears a sceptre in her hand, to show that she is sovereign mistress of all things: but for any of these assertions I have no warrant from the poets.
You must excuse me, if I have been longer than ordinary on such a subject as Eternity. The next you see is Victoryt, to whom the medalists as well as poets never fail to give a pair of wings. Adfuit ipsa suis Ales Victoria- CLAUD, de 6. Cons. Honor.
dubiis volitat Victoriu pennis.
The palm branch and laurel were both the rewards of conquerors, and therefore no improper ornaments for Victory
lentæ Victoris premia palmą. Ov. Met. Et palmæ pretilin Victoribus.
VIRG. Æn. 5.
+ Vid. Fig. 13.
Tu ducibus lætis aderis cum læta triumphum
Apollo ad Laura. Ov. Met.
Thou shalt the Roman festivals adorn;
pomps shall in a long procession pass. Mr. DRYDEN. By the way you may observe the lower plaits of the drapery that seem to have gathered the wind into them. I have seen abundance of antique figures in sculpture and painting, with just the same turn in the lower foldings of the vest, when the person that wears it is in 'a posture of tripping forward. Obriaque adversas vibrabant flamina vestes. Ov. Met. lib. 1.
As she fled, the wind
Id. lib. 2.
It is worth while to compare this figure of Victory with her statue as it is described in a very beautiful passage of Prudentius.
Non aris non farre mola Victoria felir
Prudentius contra Symm. lib. 2.
Shall Victory entreated lend her aid