Serendipity trails: Emblematic evergreens, from the weeping crocodile to the vigilant crane

Some emblematic themes are based on stories or beliefs dating back to Antiquity and are still understood by a wide audience. The hypocrisy of the crocodile that weeps after having eaten a man, the patient perseverance of the turtle outrunning the hare, and the mature eloquence of the dying but still musical swan are archetypes that have found their way into proverbs.

Proverbial associations like stupidity (and stubbornness) with a donkey or blindness with a mole, and impossibility with attempts to wash off the blackness of 'Ethiopians' are also illustrated in the Arkyves collection. Washing an Ethiopian is the theme of one of best known emblems by Andreas Alciatus. As we have 33 editions of Alciatus' emblem book in Arkyves, the majority of which are from Glasgow University Library's collection, you may want to study how to include or exclude this collection from a query result.

Vigilance is an important theme too. It may be expressed by lions, who always sleep with one eye open, hares (or rabbits) who do the same, and cranes who count on being alerted should the stone they are holding fall to the ground.

Others animals may also be associated with the concept of vigilance, but these you may want to discover for yourself.

A rabbit sleeping at the edge of its hole, with its eyes open

dpd_0161: Crane, with a banderole in its beak, holding a stone in its claw, standing on a skull; simple frame

A crane holding a stone in its claw, guarding a flock of cranes at night

A crane holding a stone

While weeping a crocodile attacks a man

A boy on a river bank; a weeping crocodile with its mouth open

Two white men washing a black man

A female servant of a bathhouse tries to wash off the colour of a black man's skin

Erasmus, Adagiorum chiliades
I ii 55

Cygnea cantio


A dying swan singing its last song

dpd_1312: Emblematical representation of the concepts 'Slowness' and 'Haste': Turtle with wings

A remora wrapped around an arrow

Quintus Sertorius orders two men to pull the hair from a horse's tail: one tries to pull all the hairs in one time, and fails, the other pulls the hairs one by one and succeeds (defeating otherwise undefeatable concord)

A cupid with a tortoise and a hare

The tortoise and the hare
(Les Fables d'Esope en Ryme Fran├žoise)