Dedicatory epistle Sir Robert Kerr, first Earl of Ancram [1579 - 1655] a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King Charles, and himself a poet of considerable ability.
1 Quem neque quae fuerant The second line of an epigram by our author’s father, David Hume of Godscroft, entitled Laurea Poetarum Corona, destined to be anthologized in Delitiae Poetarum Scotarum 1.431.
2 ex Diogeneo poculo I. e., in his hands. See Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VI.37: “One day, observing a child drinking out of his hands, he cast away the cup from his wallet with the words, ‘A child has beaten me in plainness of living’” (trans. R. D. Hicks).
7 Chrysophili His name means “lover of gold.”
19 Ignatiani sphyngis “Ignatian” would seem to refer to the Jesuits, but I do not see how this suits the context. Possibly it has to do with the Jesuit device of using riddles as teaching aids, such as the “painted enigmas” discussed by Montagu 1968.
27 quia ingenio Uticensis Literally “was such a Cato of Utica by nature,” Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger [d. 46 B. C.] was the model Stoic, killing himself at Utica in N. Africa to forestall capture by Julius Caesar. His ancestor, M. Porcius Cato the Elder was known as a censor, but the two Catos are often conflated.
27 Procul ite Catones When Hume published a collection of his poems in 1639 (Hume 1639 151 - 2), he included a longer version of this first line and titled the poem “De Felicitate Barbarorum”: “While we sing of these delights, begone, all you foul Catos…”
35 transmontanum bellum patratum The (temporarily) successful conclusion of the Valtelline affair in 1625 (this was a squabble over French right of access to a route over the Alps which provided the original impetus for the Thirty Years War).
35 Macedonis arma The Macedonian is King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who was subsidized by the French king. The Macedonians lived in northern Greece, hence the name is used for other northerners, the Swedes. The Water-drinkers are either the Dutch or Protestants in general.
42 AD NOBILISSIMUM VIRUM DN. IACOBUM GRAHMIUM James Graham, fifth Earl of Montrose [1612 - 1650], shortly after coming of age, traveled in France and Italy for three years, 1633 - 36. Perhaps he met Hume in Paris, as seems to be implied by these two poems, but nothing is known of the matter. His later career during the English Civil War was unhappy. While attempting to assert his authority as lieutenant-governor of Scotland under the exiled Charles II, his forces were defeated and he was hanged in May 1650.
43 AD IUDICEM This poem “Ad Iudicem" is called “Ad N. pro Amico” in Hume 1639, p. 152.
43 Geryonem indomitum See the note on §17.
52 pinguissimis pyramidalibus The Latin word pyramidales, translated here as “groins” is a Renaissance medical term for 1.) lower abdominal muscles; 2.) organs which produce semen. Cf. Steven Blankaart’s 1679 Lexicon Medicum s.v. pyramidales: musculi, in abdomine locantur, et rectorum infimis tendinibus incumbunt, nec sunt rectorum partes, ut putant Vesalius et Columbus, sed distincti musculi, ut probat Fallopius: membrana peculiaris, qua investiuntur, et fibrarum cursus, diversos a rectis esse musculos ostendit. Ortum ab externo pubis osse sortiuntur, et quanto longius ascendunt, tanto fiunt angustiores, circa umbilicum in alba linea terminum consequuntur. Aliquando desunt, vel sinister dextro minor est, vel dexter sinistro.