Sacred Anchors

Erasmus, Adagia 1.24:

“Joined to this is that saying which is famous among the Greeks: Ἱερὰν ἄγκυραν χαλάζειν, that is, to loose the sacred anchor, said whenever one must flee to some extreme refuge. It is derived from sailors, who call the greatest and strongest anchor the sacred one, and only set it down when they are laboring in the most critical point. Lucian, in his tragedy JupiterἌκουσον δὴ ἱεράν, φασίν, ἄγκυραν καὶ ἣν οὐδεμιᾷ μηχανῇ ἀπορρήξεις, that is, Hear now the sacred anchor which you will break by no contrivance. Thus he labels an incontrovertible claim. Again, in the Drapetae Ἔδοξεν οὖν σκοπουμένους τὴν ὑστάτην ἄγκυραν, ἣν ἱερὰν οἱ ναυτιλλόμενοί φασι, καθιέναι, that is, It seemed best therefore, when the matter was considered, to send down the last anchor, which the sailors call the Sacred Anchor. Again, in the Apology, Μία μοι ἴσως ἐκείνη ἄγκυρα ἔτι ἄβροχος, that is, That one anchor is perhaps the only sound one left to me, that is, that still remains as the one thing to which I might flee. Euripides, in his Helen, has

Ἄγκυρα δή μου τὰς τύχας ὀχεῖ μόνη

that is,

My fortune depends upon one anchor.

which is to say as long as hope remains to me. Aristides in Themistocles says: Καὶ ὥσπερ τῆς ἱερᾶς ἀγκύρας τῆς ἐκείνου φωνῆς ἐχόμενοι, that is, They were hanging on to his voice as if to the sacred anchor. The Divine Chrysostom, in About Lazarus section 4, calls conscience the sacred anchor, because it never permits a person to be seized by the violence of desire as by a windy storm without offering some resistance.”

Image result for anchor aldus manutius
The sign of Aldus Manutius’ printing press.

Sacram ancoram solvere.xxiv

Huic finitum est illud, quod apud Graecos celebratur : Ἱερὰν ἄγκυραν χαλάζειν, id est Sacram solvere ancoram, quoties ad extrema praesidia confugitur. Translatum a nautis, qui maximam ac validissimam ancoram vocant eamque tum demum mittunt, cum extremo laborant discrimine. Lucianus in Jove tragoedo : Ἄκουσον δὴ ἱεράν, φασίν, ἄγκυραν καὶ ἣν οὐδεμιᾷ μηχανῇ ἀπορρήξεις, id est Audi jam sacram, ut aiunt, ancoram quamque nulla vi queas abrumpere. Sic enim appellat argumentum insolubile. Rursum in Drapetis : Ἔδοξεν οὖν σκοπουμένους τὴν ὑστάτην ἄγκυραν, ἣν ἱερὰν οἱ ναυτιλλόμενοί φασι, καθιέναι, id est Visum est igitur re perpensa extremam ancoram, quam nautae sacram nominant, demittere. Rursum in Apologia : Μία μοι ἴσως ἐκείνη ἄγκυρα ἔτι ἄβροχος, id est Mihi fortassis una illa ancora adhuc superest integra, id est illud mihi adhuc superest quo possim confugere. Euripides in Helena :

Ἄγκυρα δή μου τὰς τύχας ὀχεῖ μόνη,

id est

Mihi ab unica fortuna pendet ancora,

hoc est dumtaxat spes mihi superest. Aristides in Themistocle : Καὶ ὥσπερ τῆς ἱερᾶς ἀγκύρας τῆς ἐκείνου φωνῆς ἐχόμενοι, id est Ac velut a sacra ancora de illius voce pendentes. Divus Chrysostomus de Lazaro contione 4. conscientiam appellat ἱεραν ἄγκυραν, quod illa nunquam patiatur hominem abripi vi cupiditatum veluti ventorum procella, quin obnitatur.

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