background image
The moral-political interpretation does, however, not do justice to the content:
Die Unterthanen müssen gemeiniglich viele beschwärnüssen leiden / wenn ihr
Landes Herr weit von ihnen residiret.
[The subjects must endure many difficulties, when their lord resides far from them.]
The relationship between image and meaning appears simpler in Woyt's emblem 329, which
shows a cupid next to a plant (ill. 9):
34
Ein schöner frischer und grosser Nessel=Strauch auf dem Felde; woran ein Genius, sie
abbrechenwollende / die Hände dermassen verbrennt / daß er mit den Füssen strampft /
und die Hände vor Schmertzen schlenckert.
[A lovely, fresh and large nettle bush in the field; where a little cupid wanting to pluck it,
burns his hand to such a degree that he stamps his feet and shakes his hands because of
the pain.]
The distich - "Man sieht es keiner an / wie sie verletzen kan" (One does not see how it can
do harm) - and the motto - "Mit gantz geheimen Tücken" (With completely hidden peril) -
appear to be imminently reasonable, but only if one knows what one is seeing: a stinging nettle.
I doubt that this pictura would be suitable as an illustration in a biology text.
35
The examples of such dilemmas are numerous and I must break off the discussion of this prob-
lem here and be satisfied with a summary dictum. In emblem studies I must know what I am see-
ing when the pictura contains images of objects which are not immediately identifiable, such as
exotic plants whose characteristics are not representable, such as, for example the color of a flower;
although European trees and flowers are also not necessarily identifiable in every pictura. Also,
internal characteristics such as the reported imperviousness of the diamond to fire and mechan-
ical violence (for example, emblems of the hammer and diamond) must be known before they
can be recognized within the pictura.
34
See footnote 32,Woyt (1730), 58.
35
By using such an image,Woyt
goes against the advice of earlier
emblematists, as formulated, for
example, by Georg Philipp Harsdörf-
fer in his Frauenzimmer Gesprächspie-
len. In the Gesprächspiel about "Der
Sinnbilder Figuren" Harsdörffer pro-
poses the following rule:"The pic-
tures should not be completely
unknown and misshapen." Harsdörf-
fer is aware of the fact that "Indian
animals and plants" are not recom-
mended as the bearers of emblematic
meaning without further explana-
tion. On the contrary he claims:
"Without an explanatory text almost
all the medicinal plants in the picture
can not be recognized, as well as the
trees and the birds, which should not
be used in emblems..." However,
Harsdörffer's arsenal of items which
require further explanation is not
exhausted with these examples:
"Among the number of things
which are barely known or generally
have hidden meanings are artificial
tools and objects (...) just as all
things with symbolic effects which
can not be recognized from the pic-
ture, such as the mercurial nature of
quicksilver, the attraction of magnets,
and the virtuous properties of
bezoars and "Paradißholtz," and so
on. See Georg Philipp Harsdörffer,
Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiel (1644;
Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1968) Vol. 4,
233-245.
Illustration 9: Laurentius Wolfgang Woyt, Emblematischer
Parnassus. Part 3, Augsburg: J.Wolff, 1730, emblem no
329. p. 59 (detail, enlarged; ZIKG: SB 327/6 R).
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