Ad Iosephum Scaligerum, cum sphaerae machina (c.1579)

Rollock struck up more than a passing friendship with the philologist and chronologer Joseph Juste Scaliger (who was also a friend of Andrew Melville) while the latter was based at Touffou, an estate approximately 14 miles outside Poitiers, between June 1576 and December 1579 (for more on Scaliger, see d2_MelA_037, d2_MelA_038). During this time Scaliger wrote several letters from the town of Poitiers itself (Lettres Françaises inédites de Joseph Scaliger, ed. Phillipe Tamizey de Larroque (Agen/Paris, 1881), pp. 50-102; see letters of 25 Sept and 18 December 1576, 2 June 1578, and 27 May and 9 December 1579), but it was at Touffou that he worked, between summer 1577 and early spring 1578, on an edition of Manilius' Astronomicon, which was published at Paris in 1579. This is the first of two poems by Rollock to Scaliger. The first was presented with the gift of a globe, and makes clear reference to Scaliger as a new Manilius for the modern age. The second poem (d2_RolH_014), presented with 12 combs of beeswax for making candles, puns on the idea that like a honeycomb Scaliger is able to produce both honey (in his words) and light (in his wisdom). In the closing lines of the first poem (l.20-1) Rollock also notes that he is about to return to the British isles, thus ending his time in Poitiers. Metre: hexameter.

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Ad Iosephum Scaligerum, cum sphaerae machina.

1Aemula Naturae simulatum hunc, Scaliger, orbem
ars ubi compegit, tacite secum anxia volvit:
'cuinam hominum proprios merito concedat in usus 1
tantae molis opus?' Verum hoc tu solus honore,
5certatim soboles naturae, atque artis alumnus,
qui mactere inventus eras. Tibi machina mentis
orbis ad effigiem, teres atque rotunda, nec ausis
turgida famosis, nec fraudum pressa lacunis.

Adde quod aetherei te nemo peritior orbis
10metator, non astra notat vigilantius alter
(hic te asserte situ, testem mihi, laudo Manili,
induviis venerande novis, teque amplior ipso):
iamque patri, aeternis famae talaribus auras
sulcanti, soboles instas ita praepete penna: 2
15ut tibi sola domus vivo, sola urna sepulto
apta sit, immensus quam se late explicat orbis.

Ergo tuis cedant meritis cum caetera, vastus
quaecunque orbis habet: cum quae tibi dona ferantur
Scaliger orbis apex, dempto nihil orbe supersit.
20Ecce tuus, reliquo divulsos orbe Britannos 3
21visurus, memorem tibi donat Rollocus orbem.

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To Joseph Scaliger, with a model of the globe

Scaliger, when art rivalling nature composed this simulated world, silently and carefully it turns over in its mind: 'to whom may the burden of such a great task by right fall for the specific use of men?' Truly, you alone, without doubt the offspring of nature, and the disciple of art, are the man who has been selected to be rewarded. The model of the globe, smooth and well-rounded, is like your mind, neither distended by renowned deeds, nor punctured with holes of deceit.

9 Add to this the fact that no measurer of the heavenly sphere marks out the stars more expertly than you, no other more carefully (here I praise you, Manilius, my expert, now freed from this life, and who ought now to be revered in your new clothes, even more fully than you were): and now you, the offspring, draw near to your father, a whose fame ploughs the airs forever with winged sandals, b with your wings outstretched in a similar way: so widely does the vast universe extend itself that its one abode was big enough for you in life, and its one urn ample in death.

17Therefore, Scaliger, peak of the world, since those other things yield to your merits, which the vast world possesses, and since they are gifts borne to you, may nothing in a empty world remain. Behold your Rollock, about to see the Britons who are separated from the rest of the world, c gives you a globe in remembrance of him.



1: Buchanan, Psalms CIV.33-4; 55

2: Virgil, Aeneid VI.15

3: Virgil, Eclogues I.66


a: The equally famous humanist and Latin scholar Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558).

b: In the manner of the messenger-god Mercury. This passage, though, surely owes it imagery and terminology to Virgil, Aeneid VI.15. The Daedalus/Icarus myth is the rather unfortunate comparision that Rollock is trying to make between both sets of father and son.

c: Another example of Rollock's fondness for Virgil, Eclogues I.66.