"'Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,..."
See in text (Text of the Poem)
The image of a royal collared deer, which Petrarch employs in his Sonnet 190, comes from the ancient Roman records of Pliny and Solinus, who remark on Alexander the Great’s long-lived deer. In Petrarch’s poem, the word “Cesare” means “king” more broadly. Wyatt’s version employs the more historically specific title of “Caesar.” In his version, there is also the implicit conflation of “Caesar” with King Henry VIII, the reigning king of England and the husband of Wyatt’s beloved. The Latin phrase “Noli me tangere” means “touch me not.” The phrase, which Petrarch uses in the vernacular Italian in his poem, alludes to John 20:17 of the Vulgate Bible, in which Jesus Christ tells Mary Magdalene, “‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.’” The message engraved into the hind’s collar suggests both Christ-like purity and ownership by a much more powerful figure.
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