Similitudo, is a forme of speech by which the Orator compareth one thing with the other by a similitude fit to his purpose Cicero: Even as the light of a candle, is opprest with the brightnesse of the Sunne, so the estimation of corporall things must needs be darkened, drowned, and destroyed by the glorie and greatnesse of vertue. As in daungerous sayling the helme is not committed to him that is richest or noblest in birth, but to him that hath the best knowledge in guiding the ship: even so is it requisite and behovefull not to give the principalitie of government to him that is of more wealth then others, or of nobler blood, but to him that excelleth other men in wisedome and loyaltie.
It is even Judges, as if you should give a sharpe sword to a
litle childe, or to a feeble olde man, who by his owne strength can hurt no mans person, but yet if he come to a naked mans bodie, he may be the sharpnesse of the point and wight of the weapon wound it: even so was the consulship as a sword given to weake and fearful men, who could never by their own might, have bene able to do so much as pricke a man, but being armed with the name of the honourable Empire, they have cruelly murthered the common wealth.
As if maketh no matter whether you laie a sicke man in a bed
made of plaine wood, or in a bed gilt and garnished with gold, for whither soever you remove him, he carrieth his disease with him: even so is it all one whether the mind which is sicke with insaciable avarice, be placed in riches or in povertie, for while the disease hang still upon it, it findeth no rest.
As the lion become sometime a praie to smal birds, and as thin rust consumes thicke yron, lo is there nothing so sure, what is
not subject to his inferiour.
The use of this figure.
The use of Similitudes is verie great, yelding both
and pleasure, profit by
their perspicuitie, and pleasure by
2 The value of
their proportion. They serve to many and sundry
endes, as to praise, dispraise, teach, to exhort, move, perswade, and
to many other such like effects: of all formes of speech, they are
best conceived, most praised, and longest remembered.
The principal care in making similitudes, ought to be in foreseeing
that the things compared, be not unlike in that part
wherein they be compared.
Secondly, that they be not straunge and unknowne, by the one there is an absurditie, by the other obscuritie.