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Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 14 years ago


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Asinus et Equus


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 357.


Corporis eximii felix est visus Asello,

Quod parce domino non aleretur Equus.

Cum viles paleas sibi vix alimenta ministret,

Qui tamen assiduo more fatiget, herus,

At cum bella novis exorta tumultibus essent,

Ad fera ab armato est proelia ductus Equus.

Post varios pugnae qui laesus ab hoste labores,

Exitio tandem flebiliore perit.

Ista videns Asinus, quam duxerat ante beatum,

Tam miserum re nunc indice sentit Equum.

Splendida saepe gravi discrimine vita laborat,

Optima sors igitur, quae mediocris, erit.


Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:


Equus corporis eximii

visus est felix Asello

quod Equus non parce domino aleretur.

Cum herus ministret Asello viles paleas,

vix alimenta,

tamen fatiget assiduo more.

At cum bella exorta essent novis tumultibus,

Equus ductus est ab armato ad fera proelia.

Post varios labores pugnae

Equus laesus ab hoste

tandem perit exitio flebiliore.

Asinus videns ista,

re indice

nunc sentit

Equum esse tam miserum

quam ante duxerat esse beatum.

Saepe splendida vita laborat gravi discrimine;

optima sors igitur erit quae mediocris.



Here is the poem with meter marks:


Corporis ~ eximi~i fe~lix est ~ visus A~sello,

Quod par~ce domi~no = non ale~retur E~quus.

Cum vi~les pale~as sibi ~ vix ali~menta mi~nistret,

Qui tamen ~ assidu~o = more fa~tiget, he~rus,

At cum ~ bella no~vis ex~orta tu~multibus ~ essent,

Ad fer(a) ab ~ arma~t(o) est = proelia ~ ductus E~quus.

Post vari~os pug~nae qui ~ laesus ab ~ hoste la~bores,

Exiti~o tan~dem = flebili~ore per~it.

Ista vi~dens Asi~nus, quam ~ duxerat ~ ante be~atum,

Tam mise~rum re ~ nunc = indice ~ sentit E~quum.

Splendida ~ saepe gra~vi dis~crimine ~ vita la~borat,

Optima ~ sors igi~tur, = quae medi~ocris, e~rit.




A horse with an exceptional physique seemed very lucky to the Donkey, because the Horse was fed abundantly by his owner, while the master gave the Donkey nasty chaff which was scarcely edible, yet he nevertheless wore the Donkey out with constant use. But when wars sprang up with new disorders, the Horse was led off by a soldier in arms to the fierce battles. After a series of exertions in the fighting, the Horse was wounded by the enemy and finally died a most lamentable death. The Donkey, seeing these things, now thought, based on the evidence, that the Horse was just as wretched as the Donkey had previously considered him lucky. Often a glamorous life suffers a serious reversal of fortune; the best lot therefore could be being average.


[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.]




Here is an illustration from the 1575 edition; click on the image for a larger view.


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