Rafael “De triomf van Galatea” 1511 Fresco

Two shapely dolphins pull a chariot: on it sits

Angelo Poliziano


Two shapely dolphins pull a chariot: on it sits
Galatea and wields the reins; as they swim, they
breath in unison; a more wanton flock circles
around them: one spews forth salt waves, others
swim in circles, one seems to cavort and play for
love; with her faithful sisters, the fair nymph
charmingly laughs at such a crude singer.


Duo formosi delfini un carro tirono:
sovresso è Galatea che ‘l fren corregge,
e quei notando parimente spirono;
ruotasi attorno piú lasciva gregge:
qual le salse onde sputa, e quai s’aggirono,
qual par che per amor giuochi e vanegge;
la bella ninfa colle suore fide
di sí rozo cantor vezzosa ride.


Poliziano-Rafael Poliziano-Rafael

Rafael “De triomf van Galatea” (details) 1511 Fresco

Angelo Poliziano

Angelo Poliziano

Angelo Poliziano of Angelus Politianus (eigenlijk Angelo degli Ambrogini) (Montepulciano, 14 juli 1454 – Florence, 29 september 1494) was een Italiaans dichter en humanist.

Poliziano kwam al op jeugdige leeftijd naar Florence. Hij was een vriend van Lorenzo de’ Medici,  die hem aanstelde tot leraar van zijn zoons Piero en Giovanni. In 1480 werd hij benoemd tot hoogleraar Grieks en Latijn. Latijnstalige werken van zijn hand zijn onder andere Odae, Silvae (lyrisch-didactische en erotische gedichten), Miscellanea (gewijd aan kwesties van de interpretatie van antieke teksten) en Epistolae (Brieven). Ook heeft hij talloze Latijnse vertalingen uit het Grieks op zijn naam staan, o.a. de eerste vier boeken van Homerus’ Ilias (1470-75), het Handboek van Epictetus (1479) en de Historiae van Herodianus (1487).

Als zijn belangrijkste werk worden zijn Italiaanse gedichten beschouwd, met name Stanze per la giostra (voor het steekspel van 1475), geschreven ter ere van Giuliano de’ Medici,  maar onvoltooid vanwege de dood van de hoofdpersoon. Op deze verzen heeft Rafael zijn fresco “De triomf van Galatea” gebaseerd. Deze fresco’s bevinden zich in de tuinkamers van villa Farnesina in Rome. In deze verzen is sprake van een lompe reus Polyphemus die een liefdes lied zingt voor de fraaie zeenimf Galatea die de golven berijdt in een koets getrokken door twee dolfijnen omgeven door een vrolijk gezelschap van zeegoden, nimfen en amorini (cupidootjes). Rafael lijkt de schoonheid van een verloren meesterwerk na te streven.

Poliziano schreef ook het toneelstuk dat beschouwd wordt als het eerste wereldlijke drama in Italië staat op zijn naam, de Favolo d’Orfeo (1480), geschreven ter gelegenheid van een vorstelijk huwelijk. Hij schreef deze werken in de volkstaal, waarmee hij een grote bijdrage leverde aan de ontwikkeling van de Italiaanse taal.

Hieronder treft u de volledige tekst aan van de verzen van Poliziano. In deze tekst zult u vele figuren uit de klassieke mythologie tegen komen. Mogelijk heeft deze tekst ook Botticelli mede geïnspireerd tot zijn schilderijen Geboorte van Venus en Primavera.

Book 1


My daring mind urges me to celebrate the glori-
ous pageants and the proud games of the city
that bridles and gives rein to the magnanimous
Tuscans, the cruel realms of the goddess who
adorns the third heaven, and the rewards mer-
ited by honorable pursuits; in order that for-
tune, death, or time may not despoil great
names and unique and eminent deeds.


O fair god: you who inspire through the eyes
unto the heart sweet desire full of bitter
thought, you nourish souls with a sweet venom,
feeding yourself on tears and sighs, you ennoble
whatever you regard, for no baseness can exist
within your breast; Love, whose subject I am
forever, now lend your hand to my low intel-


Sustain the burden that weighs so much upon
me, rule, Love, my tongue and hand; you are
the beginning and the end of my lofty endeavor,
yours will be the honor if this prayer is not in
vain; say, my Lord, with what snares you cap-
tured the noble mind of the Tuscan baron, the
younger son of the Etruscan Leda, what nets
were spread out for so great a prey?


And you, well-born Laurel, under whose shelter
happy Florence rests in peace, fearing neither
winds nor threats of heaven, nor irate Jove in
his angriest countenance: receive my humble
voice, trembling and fearful, under the shade of
your sacred trunk: o cause, o goal of all my de-
sires, which draw life only from the fragrance of
your leaves.


Ah, will it ever come to pass – if Fortune does
not oppose my flight – that the spirit of my limbs
(that even from my cradle were consecrated to
you by the fates) may with loftier strains cause
your name to resound from Numidia to Bootes,
from the Indies to the sea which darkens our
skies? Having nested in your happy branch, shall
I, a croaking bird, turn into a white swan?


While I still only yearn and tremble before that
exalted enterprise, and the wings of my desire
are clipped, let us sing of your glorious brother,
who delights his renowned family with a new
trophy, a second branch: this is the dusty arena
where I, too, must sweat. Now be first to move
my verses, Love, you who fledge base hearts for
lofty flight.


And, o sacred Achilles, if Fame here on earth
truly reports that the daughter of Leda still
kindles you with amorous sparks after you left
your body inside the tomb, let me leave silent
awhile your greater trumpet that I am causing
to blare through the Italian cities; tune your
lyre for untried songs, while I sing the love
and the arms of Julio.


In the lovely time of his green age, the first flow-
er yet blossoming on his cheeks, fair Julio, as
yet inexperienced in the bittersweet cares which
Love provides, lived content in peace and liber-
ty; sometimes bridling a noble steed, the glory
of the Sicilian herds, he would race, contending
with the winds:


now, with skill, causing him to bound like a
leopard, now compelling him to turn in a narrow
circle, now making a pliant spear whistle through
the air, often dealing bitter death to the wild
game. So the gallant youth used to live; with no
thought for his own harsh and dire fate, as yet
unaware of his tears to come, he would make
fun of stricken lovers.


How many nymphs sighed for him! But the am-
orous nymphs could never make the arrogant
boy yield, nor could his cold breast be warmed.
He often made his home in the forest, always
unkempt and hardened in aspect; he protected
his face from the rays of the sun with a garland
of pine or green beech.


Then, once the stars had appeared in the sky, he
would happily return to his house; in the com-
pany of the nine sisters he would longingly sing
celestial verses, and with his noble poetry he
would awaken a thousand flames of ancient vir-
tue in the breasts of his listeners: and thus, call-
ing love nothing but human lust, he rejoiced
with the Muses or with Diana.


And if sometime he should see a miserable lover,
laden with grief and the picture of woe, wander
in the sightless labyrinth, following the footsteps
of his enemy, feeding his soul upon two saintly
eyes wherein Love had bound his heart, held in
the cruel amorous fetters, Julio would assail him
with bitter reproach:


“Wretch, shake from your breast that blind er-
ror that robs you of yourself and delivers you to
another; do not nourish with flattery a vain fren-
zy that rises from the indolent lust and sloth. He
whom the erring common folk call Love is,
when more clearly perceived, a sweet madness:
the world has given that beautiful name of Love
to an unseen plague, to a gladsome evil.


“Ah, how miserable is the man who changes
his mind for a woman or ever becomes happy
or sad on her account! who strips himself of lib-
erty for her, or believes in her looks and words!
For she is ever flightier than a windswept leaf,
and she wishes and unwishes a thousand times
a day: she pursues the man who flees, hides
from one who desires her, she comes and goes
like waves upon the shore.


“Truly a young woman resembles a sharp rock
beneath a fair sea, or among flowers a young
serpent that has just now issued from its
sloughed-off skin. Most sorrowful wretch is he
who endures a woman’s fierce pride! The more
her face is full of beauty, the more deceptions
she hides in her false breast.


“With these Love, who steals away your every
mascuthought, lime-snares youthful eyes;
whoever once swallows the sweet bait cares no
more for his own freedom; rather, as if Love
poured Lethe in your cup, you soon forget your
higher nature; no manly thought may grow in
you: he so strips you of your proper valor.


“How much sweeter, how much safer to hunt
the fleeing beasts through ancient forests outside
of wall or moat, to discover their dens after long
tracking! To see the valleys, and hills, and the
purer air, the grass and flowers, the clear icy liv-
ing waters! To hear the birds unwinter them-
selves, the cascades resounding, the sweet mur-
mur of branches in the wind!


“How pleasing to see goats cling to the cliffs and
feed on this bush and that; and the mountain
shepherd in the densest shade awaken his reed-
pipe and uncultured verse; to see the earth cov-
ered with fruit, every tree almost hidden by its
yield; to see rams locking horns, cattle lowing,
grain fields waving like the sea!


“Now the rude master of the sheep is seen to
open the gate for his flocks; when he prods them
with his crook, it is delightful to note how he
chides each one. Now the rustic tames the hard
clods with his rake, now he wields his hoe; now,
beneath a rocky ledge, the ungirdled, barefoot
peasant girl stays to spin beside her geese.


“In this manner, the oldest folk are believed to
have enjoyed the golden age; mothers were not
yet made sorrowful by sons killed in martial en-
deavor; human life was not yet entrusted to the
winds; the bull did not yet complain of the
yoke; their houses were great leafy oaks that
possessed honey in their trunks and acorns on
their boughs.


“The evil thirst for cruel gold had not yet en-
tered the beautiful world; the happy people lived
in liberty, the fields, though unplowed, were
plentiful. Fortune, envious of their peace, broke
all laws and cast pity aside; lust entered human
hearts and that madness which the people, in
their misery, call love.”


In this manner the haughty youth would often
reprove Cupid’s consecrated lovers, as one, who,
joyous himself, cannot put faith in the tears of
others; but one poor wretch whose sinews were
being consumed by ardent flames cried out to
heaven: “Let just disdain move you, Love, let
him at least believe by experience!”


Cupid was not deaf to the pious complaint;
laughing cruelly, he began: “Am I not then a
god? is my fire with which I burn the entire
world already spent? Indeed, I made Jove bel-
low among the herd, I caused Phoebus to run
weeping after Daphne, I drew Pluto from his
infernal seat: and what creature does not obey
my law?


“I cause the tiger to lose its rage, the dragon its
hiss, the lion its savage roar; and what man, out-
wardly so secure, can escape my tenacious lime?
Is my godhood now jeopardized because one
proud man holds me in such low esteem? Let us
see whether the wretch who reproaches Love
can now defend himself from two fair eyes.”


Zephyr, adorned with lovely flowers, had al-
ready lifted the hoarfrost from the mountains;
the weary pilgrim swallow had already returned
to its nest; all about the forest resounded sweet-
ly in the morning hours, and the ingenious bee
preyed upon blossom after blossom in the first
light of dawn.


When the morning was still dark, at the time that
the owl was returning to its tuff, daring Julio,
having ordered his proud courser to be bridled,
made his way toward the forest beside his chos-
en company (and the close band of faithful
hounds followed under just restraint); equipped
with what was useful for the hunt: bows and
snares and spears and darts and horns.


The happy band had already circled the thick
woods; and now each beast awakened with great
terror in its den; the hounds followed the drawn-
out scent; every path was closed by dog and
snare. The noise of rustling and barking grows,
all the forest resounds with whistles and blows,
the heavens thunder with the echoing of horns.


With like report, when the air falls into discord,
the fire of Jove crashes from a lofty cloud; with
such tumult, from which neighboring folk grow
deaf, the Nile thunders from its high cataracts;
with such horror, Megaera, gluttonous for Latin
blood, sounded the Tartarean trumpet. One
beast appeared to gnaw itself in rage, another
pressed its trembling tail between its legs.


The fair company scatters: some to the nets,
some to the narrowest path; one holds together
a brace of hounds, another uncouples, a third
unleashes, still another lures and recalls them;
one spurs his excellent steed through the fields;
one, armed, awaits the enraged beast; one re-
mains vigilant upon a branch, one readies his
spear in his hand, another his dart.


Now the boar raises its bristles and gnashes its
teeth in the ravine; now the roebuck appears
from a cave; now the ancient herds of deer flee
in a troop across the plain; fear has extinguished
the cunning of the fox; the hares are routed by
the first assault; every beast leaves its den, be-
wildered; the astute wolf retreats further within
the woods,


and once in the woods, the wretch still fears the
little hound’s expert nostrils; but the stag seems
to tremble at the greyhound, the boar at the
snares or the fierce mastiff. Joyful, unaccompa-
nied, the extraordinary youth seems to fly, now
here, now there; his spirited steed takes wing
through the thick forest; unfortunate the beast
that Julio assails.


In such a way, the ferocious Centaur goes to
hunt through the snowy forests of Pelion or
Haemus, chasing every beast from its den: now
he kills the bear, now menaces the lion; the brav-
er the beast the further within the woods it
hides, blood turns to ice inside each heart; the
woods tremble, and every plant gives way, he
beats down or uproots the trees, or shatters
their branches.


How fierce a thing it is to see Julio! With green
garland encircling his head, with dusty and ruf-
fled hair, and face bathed with honest sweat, he
breaks through where the woods are thickest to
draw the angry beast out of the brush. There
Love, who waits the right time and place, took
counsel for his vengeance;


And with his hands he created out of light air
the image of a haughty and beautiful doe: lofty
forehead, branching horns, completely white,
light and slender. And as from among the fright-
ened beasts she offered herself to the young
hunter, he joyfully spurred his steed in pursuit,
thinking shortly to give her bitter torment.


But after he had cast his dart in vain, he drew
his faithful sword out of its sheath, and urged
his charger with such a furor that the dense woods
seemed an open road. The beautiful creature ap-
pears to slow down as if she were weary, but just
when it seems that he will reach or touch her,
she regains a little ground before his eyes.


The more he pursues in vain the vain image, the
more he burns in vain to pursue it; he presses
ever and ever upon her tired tracks, he draws
ever nearer but never overtakes her: just so Tan-
talus stands up to his lips in the Stygian waters
and the fair orchard hangs down nearby, but
whenever he wishes to taste water or fruit, they
instantly disappear.


In pursuit of his desire, Julio had by now sepa-
rated himself a great distance from his compan-
ions, but he still had not gained a step on his
prey, and his horse was already exhausted; but,
still following his vain hope, he came upon a
green and flowery meadow: here, veiled in white,
a lovely nymph appeared before him, and the
doe vanished away.


The animal vanished from his sight. But now the
youth scarcely cares about the deer; rather he
tugs the bridle of his courser, and reins him in
upon the greensward. Here, filled with wonder,
he gazes upon the features of the nymph: it
seems to him that from her lovely face and eyes
a new sweetness showers into his heart.


Even so an enraged tigress, from whose rocky
den a hunter has stolen her cherished young, fol-
lows him through the Hyrcanian woods, think-
ing soon to bloody her claws; then pauses before
the vain reflection of a mirroring water, before
the reflection that resembles her children; and
while the fool is enamored of that sight, the
hunter flies away.


Quickly, Cupid, hidden in those beautiful eyes,
adjusts the notch of his arrow to his bowstring,
then he draws back with his powerful arm so
that the two ends of his bow meet; his left
hand is touched by the point of fiery gold, his
right breast by the string: the arrow does not be-
gin to hiss through the air before Julio has felt
it inside his heart.


Ah, what a change came over him! Ah, how the
fire rushed all through the young man’s marrow!
What a trembling shook the heart within his
breast! He was soaked with an icy sweat; made
avid for her sweet face, not once can he remove
his eyes from hers; utterly captured by their
charming splendor, the wretch does not per-
ceive that therein is Love.


He does not perceive that Love therein is armed
solely to disturb his long peace; he does not per-
ceive the knot by which he is already tied, he
does not recognize his still secret wounds: he is
lime-snared entirely by pleasure and desire, and
thus the hunter is taken in the net. He inwardly
praises her arms, her face, and her hair, and in
her he discerns something divine.


She is fair-skinned, unblemished white, and
white is her garment, though ornamented with
roses, flowers, and grass; the ringlets of her gold-
en hair descend on a forehead humbly proud.
The whole forest smiles about her, and, as it
may, lightens her cares; in her movement she is
regally mild, her glance alone could quiet a tem-


From her eyes there flashes a honeyed calm in
which Cupid hides his torch; wherever she turns
those amorous eyes, the air about her becomes
serene. Her face, sweetly painted with privet and
roses, is filled with heavenly joy; every breeze is
hushed before her divine speech, and every little
bird sings out in its own language.


Beside her goes humble, gentle Chastity, who
turns the key to every locked heart; with her
goes Nobility with kindly appearance and imi-
tates her sweet graceful step. No base soul can
regard her face without first representing of its
faults; Love captures, wounds, and kills all those
hearts with whom she sweetly speaks or sweetly


She would resemble Thalia if she took lyre in
hand, Minerva, if she held a spear; if she had a
bow in hand and quiver at her side, you would
swear she was chaste Diana. Anger, grieving,
withdraws from before her countenance, Pride
avails little in her presence; every sweet virtue is
in her company, Beauty and Grace point her out.


She was seated upon the grass, and, lighthearted,
had woven a garland out of as many flowers as
nature ever created, the flowers with which her
garment was decorated. As first she noticed the
youth, she somewhat timidly raised her head;
then having gathered up the hem of her skirt
with her white hand, she rose to her feet, her lap
filled with flowers.


Now the nymph was slowly making her way
across the grass, leaving the youth in great pain,
for he desired nothing else but her. The wretch,
unable to endure her parting, sough to stay her
with some plea; whereupon, all trembling and
burning, he humbly began to speak:


“Whatever you are, o sovereign virgin, nymph or
goddess, but certainly you seem a goddess to
me; if a goddess, perhaps you are my Diana; if
mortal, tell me who you are, for your appear-
ance surpasses human nature; nor do I yet know
what merit of mine, what grace from heaven,
what friendly star makes me worthy to see
anything so beautiful.”


The nymph turned at the sound of his words,
she flashed a smile so sweet and lovely that it
might have moved mountains or stopped the
sun; for indeed it seemed as if a paradise were
opening. Then, between pearls and violets, she
formed words that might have split marble; so
soft, wise, and full of sweetness, as might have
enamored even a Siren.


“I am not what your mind vainly augers, not
worthy of an altar nor of a pure sacrifice; but I
live upon the Arno in your native Etruria, subject to
the legal bond; my native country is in rugged
Liguria, upon a coaston the maritime shore,
where, outside the great rock masses, proud and
angry Neptune is heard to shudder and groan in


“I often walk in this place, I come here to so-
journ alone; this is a sweet haven for my
thoughts; here the grass and flowers, here the
fresh air attract me; the return from here to my
house is short; here, I, Simonetta, rest happily in
the shade beside some cool and limpid stream,
often in the company of some other nymph.


“In the leisurely holidays, when our work is sus-
pended, I am accustomed, with the usual cere-
monies, to go among the other women to the
sacred altars of your temples; but in order to
satisfy in full your great desire, to remove the
doubt that disturbs your mind, do not marvel at
my young beauty, for I was born in the lap of


“Now that the sun bends down its chariot
wheels, and the shade stretches farther from
these trees, the tired cicada already yields to the
cricket, already the rustic spadesman leaves the
field, and now the smoke rises from the towering
cities, while the countrywoman loads a table
for her man; now I will take my shortest way
home, and you may joyfully return to your


Then with happier laughing eyes, such that the
sky grew fair around her, she slowly moved her
steps over the grass, an action adorned with am-
orous grace. Then the woods made sweet lament,
the birds began to weep; but the green grass be-
neath her sweet steps flowered white, yellow,
red, and blue.


What should Julio do? Alas, he still desires to
follow his star, yet fear holds him back: he
stands like a man out of his senses, his heart is
chilled, his blood turns to ice inside his veins;
he stands like fixed marble, and still he watches
her as she departs unaware of his pains, he
praises to himself the sweet celestial manner of
her walk and the way the wind catches her an-
gelic dress.


And it seems to him that his heart is being torn
from its breast, and that his soul is fleeing his
body, and that, like a frost before the sun, he is
melting and being consumed in tears. Already he
feels himself one among other lovers, and it
seems to him that Love drinks from all his veins;
now he fears, now he still longs to follow her;
Love draws him one way, shame withdraws him


Where now, Julio, are your grave pronounce-
ments, the magnificent words and the precepts
with which you used to offend miserable lovers?
Why don’t you enjoy the hunt? Behold now,
wretch, a woman holds all the keys to your de-
sires, and confines all your sweet thoughts to her;
mark who you are now, and who you were before.


Before you were the hunter of a wild creature;
now a more beautiful creature has entangled you
in her snares; before you were your own man,
now you belong to Love, now you are bound,
before you were unfettered. Where is your lib-
erty? where is your heart? Love and a woman
have taken them from you. Alas, how little must
man trust to himself! for Love imposes laws on
virtue and fortune.


Night that hides the world from us was return-
ing, covered by a starry mantle, and the night-
ingale, singing under her beloved branches,
repeated her old lament; but only Echo answered
her weeping, for by now every other bird had
stilled its song: the swarms of black Dreams
came out of the Cimmerian valley in their dif-
ferent forms.


The youths who had remained in the forest, see-
ing heaven light up its stars, hearing the signal,
put an end to the hunt; each hastens to gather
in the traps and nets; then they group them-
selves in one path with their prey; they think on-
ly about exchanging boasts: lies are cheaply
bought and sold; then, all search among them-
selves for fair Julio.


Not seeing his dear companion, each freezes in
sudden fear lest some fierce beast or another
cruel accident should hinder his return. One
lights torches, one trumpets his horn, one calls
him loudly through the dark wood; the far-
striking voices multiply and the valleys answer:
“Julio, Julio.”


Each stands uncertain in fear, frozen complete-
ly, except that he keeps calling; they see the sky
covered with shadows; despite their desire, they
do not know where to search. Still the great
wilderness resounds with “Julio, Julio”; the
wretched folk do not know what else to do. But,
after spending much of the night in vain, they
mournfully take the return path.


They go quietly, and some comfort their doubt-
ful hope with the truth that he has returned by
another path to their destination. Now this
thought and now that surges like a wave in
their breasts, their hearts waver between fear
and hope: as a ray of light striking a moving mir-
ror plays now here, now there about a great hall.


But the youth, who had now felt the bow that
removes all other care from the breast, laden
with far other hopes and fears and thoughts, had
arrived all alone at his house. There, contemplat-
ing his new burden, he stood wrapped in heavy
thought, when his company, filled with distress
and concern, crossed the threshold.


There, overcome with shame, each slowly went
up the high steps: as shepherds, from whom the
fierce wolf has taken the most beautiful bull of
their horned herd, return to their lord with a
downcast face, nor dare to enter inside the door;
they stand sighing and confused with grief, and
each thinks how to excuse himself.


But soon each raised his brow in gladness, seeing
safe so dear a charge: so Ceres appeared, after
she had found her sweet daughter below in the
realm of Death. The glad household rejoices
with them and Julio seems to rejoice, pressing
down the pain inside his heart as best he can, he
makes his face serene with happiness.


But Love, having accomplished his fair venge-
ance, flew happily through the black air and
went in haste to the realm of his mother, the
home of his thronging little brothers: to the
realm where every Grace delights, where Beauty
weaves a garland of flowers about her hair,
where lascivious Zephyr flies behind Flora and
decks the green grass with flowers.


Now fair Erato, you that take your name from
love, sing awhile with me of the sweet kingdom;
you alone, although chaste, may safely enter the
realm of Venus and Love; you alone rule over
love poetry; often Love himself comes to sing
with you; having put down the quiver from his
shoulder, he tries the strings of your beautiful


A delightful mountain lords over the isle of Cy-
prus, it faces the seven mouths of the Nile and
the first reddening of the horizon; there no mor-
tal foot is allowed to tread. Between its shoulders
a green hill raises its forehead, a sunny and hap-
py meadow lies below, where gentle breezes,
playing among the flowers, make the grass sweet-
ly tremble.


On the outer edges, a golden wall encircles a
valley shady with slender bushes, in whose
branches gentle birds sing of their loves among
fresh leaves. A welcome murmuring of waves
is heard, made by two cool and clear-flowing
streams, pouring out their sweet and bitter liq-
uid, into which Love dips the golden points of
his arrows.


Cold snow or tender frost never whitens the
locks of the eternal garden; icy winter dares not
enter there, nor does a wind ever wear against its
bushes or grass; here the years do not turn over
their calendar, but joyful Spring is never absent:
she unfolds her blonde and curling hair to the
breeze and ties a thousand flowers in a garland.


Along the banks, Cupid’s brothers, who only
wound the obscure common people, sharpen
their arrows on a whetstone with loud voices
and childish cries. Seated on the bank, Charm
and Intrigues turn the axle of the bloody wheel,
and false Hope with vain Desire spill the water
of the lovely stream upon the stone.


Sweet Fear and timid Delight, sweet Angers and
sweet Peace walk together; Tears wash their own
breasts with tears, making the bitter rivulet swell;
wan Pallor and fearful Affection mourn with
Leanness and Trouble; vigilant Suspicion spies
every path, Gaiety dances in the middle of the


Pleasure revels with Beauty; Contentment flies
away and Anguish reigns; blind Error flutters
back and forth, Frenzy beats his thigh with his
hand; wretched Penitence, who too late has real-
ized her past error, falls down prostrate, Cruelty
happily immerses herself in blood; and Despair
hangs herself.


Silent Deception, simulated Laughter, Signals,
the astute messengers of hearts, and fixed Gazes,
with their piteous countenance, spread a trap
among the flowers for Youth. Weeping, accom-
panied by his Griefs, sits with his face in his
palm; and License, unrestrained by any ties, flies
about without direction.


This army accompanies your sons, fair Venus,
mother of the cupids. Zephyr bathes the mead-
ow with dew, spreading a thousand lovely fra-
grances: wherever he flies he clothes the coun-
tryside in roses, lilies, violets, and other flowers;
the grass marvels at its own beauties, white
blue, pale, and red.


Chaste and modest, the virgin violet trembles
with downcast eyes; but the rose, many times
happier, laughing and lovely, dares to open her
breast to the sun: this one wears a jeweled hat
of green, that one, flirting, peeps out the win-
dow, another, that even now burned with sweet
fire, falls languid and flowers the beautiful


With an amorous mist the dawn nourishes white,
crimson, and yellow violets; Hyacinth has writ-
ten his sorrow upon his breast; as usual, Narcis-
sus mirrors himself in the stream; in a white
gown hemmed with purple, pallid Clytia turns
with the sun; Adonis renews his weeping to Ven-
us, Crocus shows three tongues, and Acanthus


The new season which brings life to earth never
reclothed the grass with all these gems. Above,
the green hill proudly raises its shady treeses,
where the sun never enters; beneath a veil of
thick branches is a living fountain, icy and cold,
that runs so pure, tranquil, and clear that the
eye unimpeded may reach its bottom.


The water gushes from an arch of living pumice
which supports the lovely mountain; and, paint-
ing its every track, it calmly descends in a flow-
ery wake to the fountain: from whose lips is dis-
tilled a welcome humor that rewards the trees
for their shade; each feeds from a not ungener-
ous table, and one seems to grow in competition
with the other.


Smooth and without knots grows the fir, fit to
spread out winglike sails to Boreas in the middle
of the sea; the holm-oak which appears to over-
flow with honey, and the laurel which causes
its leaves to be so greatly desired; the Cypress,
with locks now harsh, once long and blonde,
still weeps for Apollo’s stag; but the tree that
once so pleased Hercules takes delight with the
plane tree beside the water.


The turkey-oak rises robust, lofty the beech,
knotty the cornel berry, wet and pliant the wil-
low; leafy the elm, and ever wild the ash; the
pine entices the wind with its whistling. The
flowering ash weaves garlands to May, but the
maple is not content with one color; the bend-
ing palm serves as a reward for the brave, the
ivy crawls on malformed feet.


The new vines show themselves adorned with
various clothing and in different aspects: this
one, swelling, cracks its skin, this one reacquires
lost arms; that one, weaving a lovely and happy
awning, drives out Apollo with grape leaves; one
that is yet maimed weeps with a bowed head,
shedding water now in order later to pour forth


The dense and curling box-tree waves in the
wind, and adorns the shore with greenery; the
myrtle that forever yearns for its goddess adorns
its green tresses with white flowers. Here every
creature raves with love, the rams arm them-
selves with horns against the other: one
butts another, one hammers another, in the pres-
ence of the amorous ewe.


At the foot of the hill, bellowing young bulls
wage a much more brutal and pitiless war, with
breast and neck wet and bloody, their hooves
scattering the grassy earth to the sky. The boar
boils with bloody foam, grinds his huge tusks,
and shuts his snout; he roars and rasps, and, to
arm himself further, he chafes his calloused hide
against rough bark.


The timid deer do battle and become bold for
their beloved paramour; with striped hides,
the fierce, raging tigers furiously rush to wound
each other; proud, roaring lions lash their tails
and fight face to face with fiery eyes; the ser-
pent hisses and pants for his mate, while she
licks herself in the sun with her triple tongues.


Beside the Libyan lion, the stag raises its hooves
to embrace its mate; in the meadows where
spring smiles most, one rabbit nestles with an-
other; safe from hounds, the simple hares go in
groups on their amorous chase; so does Love,
when he desires, abate ancient hatred and natu-
ral fear inside their breasts.


Schools of silent fish swim within the gentle
flowing crystal, and circling about the fountain,
they often lead a happy and delightful dance;
sometimes, as one follows another, lightly dart-
ing, they rise to the surface: their every action
seems a festive game, the cold waters do not ex-
tinguish love’s sweet flame.


The bright-colored little birds among the leaves
sweeten the air with new rhymes, and from
many voices a harmony gathers, such blessed
and sublime music that minds wrapped in these
human vestments could not rise to its sublimity;
and wherever Love guides them in the wood,
they flutter at their pleasure from branch to


Echo resounds with the song of the forest, while
beneath a shade interwoven by all the branches,
the sparrow chatters and clamors about; the pea-
cock spreads his jeweled tail, the dove kisses her
sweet husband, the white swans make the shore
resound; and the parrot squeaks and chatters be-
side his pretty turtledove.


There Cupid and his winged brothers, weary
now of wounding men and gods, take sport,
and with their golden arrows draw forth from
the beasts cruel cries of woe; the Cyprian god-
dess often draws near her sweet sons with Pasi-
thea beside her, the two of them soothe their
lovely eyes in light sleep among the grass, flow-
ers, and young bushes.


The spine of the beautiful mountain rises sweet-
ly and gently from the hill, and atop its leafy
hair supports a great palace of gold and gems,
once sweated over in the furnaces of Sicily.
The three Hours, who are the gardeners of the
peak, sprinkle the divine and sacred flowers with
ambrosia: the moment one is gathered from its
stem, another, happier, opens its petals to heaven.


A great plant shines before the gate, its branches
of emerald and its apples of gold: the apples
which made Atalanta stop, that gave Hippomen-
es the green laurel of victory. Above it Philomela
always sings, beneath it is always a chorus of
nymphs; often Hymen, seeking out marriages,
leads their dances to the sound of his reed pipe.


The royal house cleaves to the cloudless air, flam-
ing with jewels and fine gold that kindle bright
day at midnight; but the material is surpassed by
the workmanship. On adamantine pillars is sus-
pended a platform of emeralds, which once
made Sterops and Brontes, with all their ham-
mers, tired and breathless in Mongibello.


By marvelous artifice a lovely lucid beryl forms
the surrounding walls; pure and tranquil daylight
passes through sweet oriental sapphire into the
spacious house; the roof of gold which closes in
the uppermost floor forms a canopy against the
sun; the pleasing pavement adorns its breast with
various stones in wonderful design.


Thousands and thousands of colors form the
doors, splendid with gems and with such vivid
carvings that all other works would be crude and
lifeless in comparison, and the nature itself is put to
shame: on one is sculpted the unhappy fate of
old Celius; his son appears, angry in counte-
nance, and with a curved scythe seems to cut
away the fertile members of his father.


There the Earth with her outstretched mantles
seems to gather up every drop of that blood,
whence are born the Furies and fierce Giants,
who show desire in their faces for bloodshed;
from the same seed, in various shapes, the
Nymphs appear to emerge unclothed: slim hunt-
resses in the woods, they run, shooting arrows at
now one, now another beast.


In the stormy Aegean, the genital member is
seen to be received in the lap of Tethys, to drift
across the waves, wrapped in white foam, be-
neath the various turnings of the planets; and
within, both with lovely and happy gestures, a
young woman with nonhuman countenance, is
carried on a conch shell, wafted to shore by
playful zephyrs; and it seems that heaven re-
joices in her birth.


You would call the foam real, the sea real, real
the conch shell and real the blowing wind; you
would see the lightning in the goddess’s eyes,
the sky and the elements laughing about her; the
Hours treading the beach in white garments, the
breeze curling their loosened and flowing hair;
their faces not one, not different, as befits sisters.


You could swear that the goddess had emerged
from the waves, pressing her hair with her right
hand, covering with the other her sweet mound
of flesh; and where the strand was imprinted by
her sacred and divine step, it had clothed itself
in flowers and grass; then with happy, more than
mortal features, she was received in the bosom
of the three nymphs and cloaked in a starry gar-


With both hands one nymph holds above the
spray-wet tresses a garland, burning with gold
and oriental gems, another adjusts pearls in her
ears; the third, intent upon those beautiful
breasts and white shoulders, appears to strew
round them the rich necklaces with which they
three girded their own necks when they used to
dance in a ring in heaven.


Thence they seem to be raised toward heav-
enly spheres, seated upon a silver cloud: in the
hard stone you would seem to see the air trem-
bling and all of heaven contented; every god
takes pleasure in her beauty and desires her hap-
py bed: each face seems to marvel, with raised
eyebrows and wrinkled forehead.


Finally the divine artisan formed his self-portrait,
happy with such a sweet prize, still bristly and
scabrous from his furnace, as if forgetting every
labor for her, joining his lips with desire to hers,
as if his soul burned completely with love: and
there seems to be a much greater fire kindled
within him than the one that he had left in


On the other side of the door, Jove, transformed
for love into a handsome white bull, is seen car-
rying off his sweet rich treasure, and she turns
her face toward the lost shore with a terrified
gesture; in the contrary wind her lovely golden
hair plays over her breasts; her garment waves in
the wind and blows behind her, one hand grasps
his back, the other his horn.


She gathers in her bare feet as if fearing lest the
sea wash over her: in such a pose of fear and
grief, she seems to call in vain to her dear com-
panions; they, left behind among flowers and
leaves, each mournfully cry for Europa. “Euro-
pa,” the shore resounds, “Europa, come back,”
the bull swims on, and now and then kisses her


Now Jove becomes a swan and now a shower of
gold, now he pretends to be a serpent or a shep-
herd to accomplish his amorous work; now, as
Love wills, he is seen to transform himself into
an eagle and to carry off into the celestial choir
the fair dangling Ganymede, whose blonde head
is bound with cypress, otherwise naked, girded
only with ivy.


For love, Neptune turns himself into a woolly
ram, then into a sullen young bull; the father of
Chiron turns into a horse, Phoebus becomes a
shepherd in Thessaly: he who gives light to all
the world lives in the obscurity of a small hut,
nor does his knowledge of the virtues of herbs
help him cure his own bitter wounds.


Then he chases Daphne, his face complaining, as
if he were saying: “O nymph, do not run away,
hold your step in the field, nymph, I do not pur-
sue to give you death; the deer from the lion,
the lamb from the wolf, each is thus accustomed
to flee its enemy: but why do you flee, o lady of
my heart, when love is the only reason for my


On the other side, beautiful Ariadne complains
to the deaf waters of Theseus and of the breeze
and sleep which deceived her; trembling with
fear, like swamp cane in a slight wind, she seems
by her gesture to have spoken these words:
“Any beast is less cruel than you, anyone would
be more faithful to me.”


Bacchus, covered with ivy and vine leaves, ap-
proaches on a chariot drawn by two tigers, and
beside him satyrs and bacchantes seem to im-
print the deep sand and shout with loud voices:
this one seems to waver, those to stumble, there
one drinks from a cymbal, those others laugh;
one uses a horn, another his own hands, as a
drinking bowl; one has captured a nymph, an-
other wallows.


On his donkey, Silenus, always eager to drink,
seems drunk, sleepy, and heavy, his large veins
black and wet with new vintage, his eyes puffed
out red and smoky with wine; and the bold
nymphs spur his frightened little donkey with
wands; with his swollen hands he clings to its
mane; while they push on, he falls on its neck,
and the satyrs staighten him up.


Proserpina appears, almost in a moment, to be
seen, loved, and carried away by fierce Pluto in
his great chariot; her loosened hair is blown
about by the amorous breezes; her white gar-
ment gathered into a fair lap seems to pour
down the flowers she has picked: she beats her
breast and appears to weep, now calling her
mother, now her companions.


Hercules puts aside the wild lion hide and clothes
himself in a woman’s skirt, he who has rescued
the world from grave perils is now a lady’s serv-
ant; and he is willing to suffer the unworthy
pride of Love, he who once made his shoulders
the column of heaven; and that hand accustomed
to the ponderous club now turns a spindle.


The bristling locks of Polyphemus cover his
hairy shoulders and fall onto his huge chest,
fresh acorns wreathe his harsh temples: his sheep
feed about him, nor can the bittersweet cares
that are born of love be ever removed from his
heart, but rather, weakened by weeping and
grief, he sits on a cold stone at the foot of a


His hairy brow makes an arch six spans long
from ear to ear; beneath his brow lies a broad
nose, his fanglike teeth seem white with foam;
his dog rests between his feet, and under his arm
a shepherd’s pipe of over a hundred reeds lies
silent: he regards the waving sea, he seems to
sing a mountain tune, as he moves his woolly


saying that she is whiter than milk, but even
prouder than a heifer, that he has made her
many garlands, that he keeps for her a very beau-
tiful doe and a bear-cub that already can fight
with dogs; that he mortifies and torments him-
self for her, and that he has a great desire to
know how to swim in order to go forth and find
her even in the sea.


Two shapely dolphins pull a chariot: on it sits
Galatea and wields the reins; as they swim, they
breath in unison; a more wanton flock circles
around them: one spews forth salt waves, others
swim in circles, one seems to cavort and play for
love; with her faithful sisters, the fair nymph
charmingly laughs at such a crude singer.


Acanthus interlaced with roses, myrtle, and gay
flowers, entwines about the lovely work; with
various birds so sculpted that one seems to hear
their song plainly in one’s ears: Vulcan never es-
teemed any other of his works so highly, truth it-
self has not more truth than this; whatever the
art in itself does not contain, the mind, imagin-
ing, clearly understands.


This is the place that pleased Venus so greatly,
beautiful Venus, the mother of Love; here was
born the fraudulent archer who often changes
lovers’ will and hue, he who subjugates the sky,
the earth, and waters, who spreads nets for the
eyes and captures the heart, sweet in appear-
ance, in action harsh and cruel, a naked youth, a
quivered bird.


Now, when he had arrived on outstretched wings,
he shook them strongly and plummeted down,
all enclosed in his sacred feathers, as a happy
dove swoops to its nest; for some time the beat-
en air retained the thunder of his feathered track;
there, quieting his triumphant wings, he went up
proudly toward his mother.


He found her seated on the edge of her couch,
just then released from the embrace of Mars,
eyes on her face: a cloud of roses showered
down upon them to renew them for their amor-
ous pursuits; but Venus with ready desires was
giving him a thousand kisses on his eyes and


And little naked cupids played above and about,
flying here and there: and one with wings of a
thousand colors fanned about the scattered
roses, one filled his quiver with the fresh flow-
ers, then poured it out over the bed, one stopped
the falling cloud upon his wings, and then pro-
ceeded to shake it down.


As he shook his feathers, the fall of roses was re-
sumed: no one was sated with the dalliance;
when, panting heavily, Cupid appeared with
wings extended, and threw himself on his moth-
er’s neck, and even with the beating of his wings
he inflamed her heart, happy in countenance,
and so weary he could hardly catch his breath
to speak.


“Where do you come from, my son? What news
do you bring?” Venus asked him and kissed his
face: “Whence comes this sweat of yours? What
deeds have you done? What god, what man have
you caught in your snares? Do you make Jove
bellow again in Tyre? or Saturn neigh on thick-
eted Pelion? Whatever it is, it does not seem to
me an unimportant thing, my son, my only
power and arms.”

Book 2


Now attentive to his response were all the little
putti about the golden couch, when Cupid, his
eyes laughing, his demeanor petulant and wan-
ton, embraced Mars and again pierced his breast
with burning arrows of his quiver, and kissed
him with lips tinged with venom, planting his
fire in the other’s breast.


Then he answered his mother: “No fruitless
reason brings me so happy unto you: for I have
taken from the chorus of Diana its foremost
leader and guide, he in whom you see Tuscany
rejoice, whom Fame already shouts to the heav-
ens unto the Indies, unto the aged Moor: Julio,
the younger brother of our Laurel.


“Who is not aware of the ancient glory and re-
nowned honor of the Medici family, and of great
Cosimo, the splendor of Italy, whose city calls
herself his daughter? And how much esteem has
Piero added to his father’s worth, with what mir-
aculous means has he removed evil hands and
cruel discord from the body of the state?


“From Piero and the noble Lucrezia, Julio was
born and, before him, Laurel: Laurel, who still
burns for a beautiful Lucrezia, while she still
shows herself hardhearted to Laurel, more un-
bending that the Lucretia once of Rome or than
she who became a laurel in Thessaly; nor has she
ever deigned, unless haughtily, to show her beau-
tiful eyes to the eyes of Laurel.


“Neither prayer nor lament avails the wretch,
for she stands fixed as a tower before the wind:
I pierced her with a leaden arrow while I wound-
ed him with one of gold, deeds I now repent:
but I will so shake these wings, mother, that I
will kindle a fire inside her breast. The long-suf-
fering faith of noble Laurel merits some reward
from us,


“for I seem to see him in the field just now, he
and his steed are armed; like a fierce dragon
spewing flames, he beats down this man and that
one with great fury, his brilliant armour flashes
and makes the air tremble with light; then, hav-
ing set an example of valor for all, he carries his
triumph to our temple.


“What laments the Muses made, how much has
Apollo grieved to me, that I should hold their
poet in such disdain! And with what pity I listen
to his verses! For in starkest winter I have seen
him, his hair, shoulders, and face full of frost,
complain to the stars and moon of her, of us, of
his cruel fortune.


“He has spread our praises throughout the world,
never, never does he speak of anything else but
love; while he could tell of your labors, Mars,
the trumpets, arms, and fury of Bellona; yet he
has wished to pen his paper only of us and of
that noble she who spurs him on to write:
wherefore, Mother, I shall make her take pity on
her lover, for I am your son, not born of hard


“I am not born of rough bark, but from you, my
beautiful mother, and I am your son; I should
not be cruel, and he constrains me to regard him
with a merciful eye. He has long experienced the
force of love, long has he lain beneath our talon;
now it is just that he make a truce with sighs and
attain the reward of good service.


“But handsome Julio, who has been a rebel unto
us, and followed only Delia’s triumph, now, fol-
lowing his good brother’s steps, comes chained
in the foremost of my triumph; I will not show
any pity to him until he carries off a new tri-
umph for us: for I have shot an arrow into his
heart from the eyes of the fair Simonetta.


“And you know what his arms and shoulders
are, how powerful he is on horseback: even now
I saw him so ferocious in the hunt that the
woods seemed afraid of him; his comely face
had become all harsh, irate, and fiery. Such were
you, Mars, when I saw you riding along the
Thermodon, not as you are now.


“This, noble Mother, is my victory; this has been
my toil and my sweat; for which our glory, our
reputation, our ancient honor will rise above the
heavens; for which your memory, Mother, and
that of your son, Love, will never be erased; for
which verses and lyres will forever sing of our
arrows, flames, bows, and quivers.”


She, then, with a happier face, blushed so that a
vermilion glow flashed about, such as to make a
stone in love, not only you, Mars; her eyes
burned like the lovely flaming dawn; then she
presses her son to her breast, fondling his golden
locks with her hand, she makes much of him,
and joyfully answers:


“Much, my fair son, does your desire please me,
that our glory should spread its wings ever far-
ther; let the errant one return to the true path:
Still it befits Laurel to go into the field once
more and crown himself with a new wreath,
for virtue proves itself greater in trials, as gold
shines the more in fire.


“But first Julio should arm himself, so that he
may fill the world with our fame; and one is
now singing the arms of strong Achilles and with
his style is renewing ancient times, who will be-
come the maker of our hymns, ever singing the
examples of love: whence we shall see our glory,
my fair son, rise in flight above the stars.


“And you, my other sons, happily turn your tri-
umphant wings toward the Tuscan people, go,
break through the night air; each of you quickly
take a bow and arrow, let the sweet ardor of
Mars go with you. Now I shall see, my sons,
which among you is most worthy: go, all of you,
and wound the Tuscan ranks; I shall five a gold-
en bow to the foremost.”


Promptly, at her command, each takes his bow
and arrows and places his quiver at his side, as,
at the whistling of the boatswain, the naked
crew unships oars and starts rowing. Now the
swift flock goes through the air; now they fall
upon the city in a rush: as vapors descend
through the fair calm air, that seem to be stars
as they pierce the sky.


They go, searching out noble minds, that are the
sweet tinder for the flames of love; they strike
their flints against them and little by little make
them catch fire. The ardor of Mars catches in
those young hearts and inflames them for his
games; while they are wrapped in sleep, it seems
to the youths that they are waging war for Love.


As in the season when the sun lights up the
Fishes, the entire earth teems with his vitality,
to later unfold in Spring, displaying to the sky
its green and flowery insignia; so in the breasts
where their fire descends, a desire takes root
which rules within, a desire only for eternal
glory and fame, which incites minds thus in-
flamed to virtue.


Banished, Baseness leaves every soul, and Sloth
flees, although lazy; the cupids tie the hands of
Liberty and she roars enraged. Desiring only the
glorious palm, every young breast burns and
languishes; within a heart captured in sleep, the
little spirits of love can find no rest.


And thus, while one languishes as he sleeps, he
is trapped by snares from which he will never es-
cape; but as a little snake wanders silently
through the grass, or a fish under water, so the
ardent spirits run through blood and marrow,
and the fire grows. But Venus, as she saw her
winged messengers depart, pondered other


She called Pasithea, the wife of Sleep, Pasithea,
one of the sister Graces, Pasithea, more amorous
than the others, the most beautiful of all; and
said to her: “Go, o gracious nymph, swift and
nimble, find your husband: have him show Julio
such an image as will make him yearn to show
his valor on the field.”


Thus she spoke; and already the clever nymph
ran suspended through the clear air; she carries
her wings quietly without a sound, and finds
him in less time that a flash of lightning. He was
escorting the chariot of Night and the surround-
ing air was filled with Dreams of various forms
and strange bearing, and he was quieting the riv-
ers and winds.


As the nymph appeared before his heavy eyes,
she opened them with the lightning of a smile:
unable to endure the force of that light, every
cloud disappeared from his eyelids. Each of the
Dreams inside its ghostlike form confronted her
and showed its face; but she, after choosing Mor-
pheus and some others, requested them of Sleep,
and quickly moved away.

onvoltooid gebleven vanwege de dood van de
opdrachtgever Giuliano de’ Medici.