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Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 15 years, 11 months ago


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Agricola et Filii


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 42.


Languentem senio cum mors vicina maneret

Agricolam, soboles cui numerosa fuit:

Et vexare frequens hanc mutua rixa soleret,

Ipse modo tali conciliare parat:

Vimine connexas in fascem frangere virgas

Praecipit, at vis has frangere nulla potest.

Ille datam cuivis unam tum frangere virgam

Iussit, at haec nullo fracta labore fuit.

Firma docens hoc quam res sit concordia facto,

Distractosque iuvent robora parva viros.

Praebet ut humanis vires concordia rebus,

Sic horum discors robore vita caret.


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


Cum mors vicina maneret

Agricolam languentem senio,

cui numerosa soboles fuit,

et mutua rixa frequens

soleret vexare hanc sobolem,

ipse parat conciliare modo tali:

praecipit frangere

virgas connexas vimine in fascem

at vis nulla potest frangere has.

Ille tum iussit frangere unam virgam

datam cuivis,

at haec fracta fuit nullo labore.

Hoc facto docens quam firma res sit concordia,

et robora parva iuvent distractos viros.

Ut concordia praebet vires humanis rebus,

sic discors vita horum caret robore.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Languen~tem seni~o cum ~ mors vi~cina ma~neret

Agrico~lam, sobo~les = cui nume~rosa fu~it:

Et vex~are fre~quens hanc ~ mutua ~ rixa so~leret,

Ipse mo~do ta~li = concili~are pa~rat:

Vimine ~ connex~as in ~ fascem ~ frangere ~ virgas

Praecipit, ~ at vis ~ has = frangere ~ nulla po~test.

Ille da~tam cui~vis u~nam tum ~ frangere ~ virgam

Iussit, at ~ haec nul~lo = fracta la~bore fu~it.

Firma do~cens hoc ~ quam res ~ sit con~cordia ~ facto,

Distrac~tosque iu~vent = robora ~ parva vi~ros.

Praebet ut ~ huma~nis vi~res con~cordia ~ rebus,

Sic ho~rum dis~cors = robore ~ vita ca~ret.




When approaching death awaited a Farmer who was weak with old age and who had numerous offspring, and since repeated mutual quarrels regularly afflicted these children, the Farmer prepared to reconcile them in this way. He ordered them to break some sticks that had been bound together in a bundle with a willow twig, and no power was able to break the sticks. Then he ordered them to break a single stick given to any of them, and this stick could be broken with no effort at all, showing by means of this deed how strong a thing concord is, and how when men are at odds with each other, a tiny bit of strength is all it takes. Just as concord supplies potency in human affairs, so a quarrelsome life deprives people of their strength.


[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. (The same image appears, more appropriately, for Fable 205.)


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