The Eagle: Greediness Deceives Wisdom

Book Title: De bykorf des gemoeds : honing zaamelende uit allerly bloemen / vervattende over de honderd konstige figuuren ; met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen, door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Eagle: Greediness Deceives Wisdom

Scripture Reference:

Description: An Eagle which has grabbed a large fish with his talons is about to be dragged by the fish to the bottom of the sea. Two ships sail in the distance. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem, as well as for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant Scripture text is Job 5:12-13.

He who trusts in his fortune,
Is often cruelly deceived.

He who wants to catch another, is himself caught by the other;
While he intends the bait to be prey for his bill,
To hang fast in his curved talon,
So must he himself be dragged to a deep bottom.
So it goes for all who grasp for earthly riches,
In order to take these in their violent greed,
And grip them firmly and fiercely with a strong hand,
To be put into their service.
But the same object that they intend to rule,
They will serve in submission,
And it holds on to them by the talon of greediness,
So that in the realm of Struggle the Predator is led away captive.
He intends to fly upwards, as wished, with such a morsel,
But instead sinks down with its weight,
So wisdom lets itself be deceived by avarice, And became for him a miserable plague.
The Eagle has indeed fast wings and sharp eyes,
To grasp what he finds for his food,
Yet finds himself cheated by the object he holds,
When undertaking to fish in the waves.
Let go of the bait of earthly treasures,
Be satisfied with what feeds and covers thee,
So that thou might embrace the eternal good in the upward flight,
And the worldly good doesn’t pull thee into the abyss.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker)

Click here for additional images available from this book.

Request a high-resolution file (fees apply)

Rights Statement: The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Rights Status: No Copyright - United States
Pitts Theology Library provides copyright information as a courtesy and makes no representation about copyright or other legal status of materials in the Digital Image Archive.