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Edited by Maxwell Lewis Latham, Thursday, 4 July 2013, 16:46
Typhon the rebel.

Juno being vexed, say the poets, that Jupiter had begotten Pallas by himself without her, earnestly pressed all the other gods and goddesses, that she might also bring forth of herself alone without him; and having by violence and importunity obtained a grant thereof, she smote the earth, and forthwith sprang up Typhon, a huge and horrific monster.

This strange birth she committed to a serpent, as a foster-father to nourish it, who no sooner came to ripeness of years, but he provoked Jupiter to battle. In the conflict, the giant, getting the upper hand, carried Jupiter upon his shoulders, carried him to a remote and obscure country, and, cutting out the sinews of his hands and feet, took them away, leaving him miserably mangled and maimed.

But Mercury, recovering these appendages from Typhon by way of stealth, restored them to Jupiter. Being whole again by means of graft, Jupiter corroborated, assaults the monster afresh, and at the first, strikes him with a thunderbolt: from whose blood serpents are engendered. The monster feints and then flees, Jupiter casts the weight of mount Ætna, and the weight thereof crushes him.

The allegory of this fable seems to point at the variable fortune of princes, and the rebellious insurrection of traitors to the State. For princes may well be said to be married to their dominions, as Jupiter was to Juno; but it happens now and then, that being debauched by the long custom of imperialism, and leaning towards tyranny, they endeavour to draw all to themselves, by condemning common freedoms, and, the counsel of their nobles and senators, hatch draconian laws. That is, to dispose of things by their own fancy and absolute authority.

The people, repining at this, study how to create and set up a chief of their own choice. This project, by the secret instigation of the peers and nobles, doth for the most part take his at the beginning; by whose connivance the Commons, being set on edge, there follows a kind of murmuring or discontent in the State, shadowed by the infancy of Typhon, which being nursed by the natural pravity and vulgar malignity, unto princes as infestuous as serpents, is again repaired by renewed strength, and it finally breaks out into open rebellion.

It is because this brings infinite suffering upon the Prince and the people, is it represented by the monstrous deformity of Typhon. His hundred heads signify their internal division. His fiery mouths are their inflamed intents. His serpentine circles signify their pestilent malice in besieging. His iron hands: their merciless slaughters. His eagle's talons: their gluttonous greed. His plumēd body: their continual rumours, and fears...

Sometimes these rebellions grow so potent that princes are enforced - transported, as it were, by the rebels, and forsake the chief seats and cities of the Kingdom - to contract their authority, and, being deprivēd of the sinews of money and majesty, take themselves to some remote and obscure corner within their dominions.

But in the passing of time, if they bear their misfortunes with moderation, they may recover their strength by the virtue of Mercury; that is, they may, by becoming affable, and by reconciling the minds and wills of their subjects, with grave edicts and gracious speeches, excite an alacrity to grant help and subsidies whereby to strengthen their authority anew.

Nevertheless, having learned to be wise and wary, they will refrain to try the chances of fortune by way of war. Yet study how to suppress the reputation of the rebels by some famous action, which, if it fall out answerable to their expectation, the rebels, finding themselves weakened, and fearing for the success of their broken projects, betake themselves to some sleight and vain bravadoes, like the hissing of serpents, at length, take flight in despair. When they begin to break, it is safe and timely for kings to pursue and oppress them with force and the weight of the Kingdom, as heavy a wrath as Ætna.

Cassandra: Divination.

The poets fable that Apollo, being enamoured of Cassandra, was by her myriad shifting flights and cunning, still deluded in his desires; but yet fed on with hope until such time as she had drawn from him the gift of prophesying. Having attained that which from the beginning she sought after, she finally rejected his suit. Finding himself unable to revoke his gift, by any means, and yet inflamed with desire of revenge, highly disdaining to be the scorn of a crafty wench, annexed a penalty to his promise. To wit, that she should ever foretell the truth, but never be believed...

This fable seems to be an allegory signifying unprofitable liberty of untimely admonitions and counsels. For they that are so overwhelmed by their own sharpness and wit, they disdain to submit to the documents of Apollo, the god of harmony. Whereby to learn and observe the method and measure of affairs, the grace and gravity of discourse... in abjuring they avail nothing, have no advantage, and manage not matters; but rather do hasten the ruin of all those they do adhere...

Cato optime sentit, sed nocet interdum... et etcetera. (Cato saith “judgeth profoundly, but in the meantime damnifies...”)

Bacon, F. (1609 [1886]) De Sapentia Veterum Liber “Wisdom of the Ancients”, Cassell, London, pp.23-27. [abridged]

For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of all knowledge) is an impression of a pleasure in itself.”

Bacon, F. (1605) Advancement of Learning [Book 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 3]

Maximus Fleximus.

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