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abstemius007

Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 12 years, 6 months ago

 

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DE CUCULO ET ACCIPITRE

 

Source: Abstemius 7 (You can see a 1499 edition of Abstemius online, but I am doing my transcription from the 1568 edition of Aesopi fabulae in the EEBO catalog.)

 

Latin Text:

 

Irrisus ab accipitre cuculus, quod, cum sibi et corpore par et colore non absimilis esset, prae angustia animi potius vermibus terrenis quam suavibus aliarum avium carnibus vesceretur, vidit paucis post diebus accipitrem a rustico, cuius columbas insectabatur, captum, ad metum ceterorum exalta rupe pendere. Cui cuculus "Quam melius tibi (inquit), amice, fuisset vermes venari, quam alienas aves impetere." Haec fabula indicat eorum vitam tutiorem esse et magis probatam, qui suis rebus sine periculo contenti, quam illorum, qui aliena appetentes, adeunt magna vitae discrimina.

 

Here is a segmented version to help you see the grammatical patterns:

 

Irrisus ab accipitre

cuculus,

quod,

cum sibi

et corpore par

et colore non absimilis esset,

prae angustia animi

potius vermibus terrenis

quam suavibus aliarum avium carnibus

vesceretur,

vidit paucis post diebus accipitrem

a rustico, cuius columbas insectabatur, captum,

ad metum ceterorum

exalta rupe pendere.

Cui cuculus

"Quam melius tibi (inquit), amice,

fuisset vermes venari,

quam alienas aves impetere."

Haec fabula indicat

eorum vitam

tutiorem esse

et magis probatam,

qui suis rebus

sine periculo contenti,

quam illorum,

qui aliena appetentes,

adeunt magna vitae discrimina.

 

Translation: A cuckoo was made fun of by a hawk because, while the cuckoo was equal to the hawk in bodily form and not unlike the hawk in its plumage, the cuckoo - because of its limited courage - preferred to eat earth worms rather than the sweet flesh of other birds. A few days later, the cuckoo saw the hawk had been captured by a farmer (whose pigeons the hawk had been chasing) and hung up on a high rock in order to provoke fear in other birds. The cuckoo said, "How much better it would have been for you, friend, to have hunted worms rather than to attack other birds." This fable shows that those who are contented by their own things without taking risks have lives that are safer and more commendable than the lives of those who chase after other people's goods and thus enter into serious life crises.

 

[This translation is meant as a help in understanding the story, not as a "crib" for the Latin. I have not hesitated to change the syntax to make it flow more smoothly in English, altering the verb tense consistently to narrative past tense, etc.]

 

Sir Roger L'Estrange

 

Sir Roger L'Estrange included the fables of Abstemius in his amazing 17th-century edition of Aesop's fables. Here is L'Estrange's translation:

 

By the Beak and the Claws of a Cuckow, one would take her for a kind of Hawk, only One lives upon Worms, and the other upon Flesh: Insomuch that a Hawk twitted a Cuckow one Day with her coarse way of Feeding. If you'll look like a Hawk, why don't you live like Hawk? The Cuckow took this a little in dudgeon; but passing by a Pigeon-House some short time after, what should she see but the Skin of this very Hawk upon a Pole on the Top of the Dove-House: Well! says the Cuckow (Abstemius in conceit) to the Hawk, and had not you as good have been eating Worms now, as Pigeons? Pride is an Abomination in the Sight of God, and the Judgment is Just upon us, when the Subject of our Vanity becomes the Occasion of our Ruin.

 

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