The Old Drink and Slink

Erasmus, Adagia 383

“Like a dog from the Nile…”

This adage is apparently taken from the apophthegm which Macrobius recalls in the first book of his Saturnalia, and it’s of this sort: after the flight at Mutina, as people asked what Marc Antony was doing, one of his close associates said that he was doing what a dog in Egypt does: drinking and running away. For it’s understood that the dogs in Egypt, being terrified of getting caught by crocodiles, drink and run off. One can use it this way: if we want to indicate that someone has dabbled in poetry by-the-by and in a trifling way, we say that they have at some time drunk from the poets, but in the manner of dogs drinking from the Nile.

Dogs, Mereruka 2C - G. Dagli Orti.jpg

Hoc adagium ex eo apophthegmate• natum apparet, cuius meminit Macrobius in primo Saturnalium, id est huiusmodi: Post fugam Mutinensem quaerentibus, quid ageret Anthonius, quidam familiaris eius respondit ‘quod canis in Aegipto: bibit et fugit’. Nam in illis regionibus constat canes raptu crocodilorum exterritos bibere et fugere. Eo hunc in modum vti licebit, vt si quem poeticam cursim et leuiter attigisse significemus, eum olim e poetis hausisse dicamus, sed ita vt canes e Nilo.

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