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Saved by Laura Gibbs
on June 27, 2008 at 8:56:22 pm


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I.7. Vulpis ad Personam


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 27.


Personam tragicam forte vulpes viderat;

quam postquam huc illuc semel atque iterum verterat,

'O quanta species' inquit 'cerebrum non habet!'

Hoc illis dictum est quibus honorem et gloriam

Fortuna tribuit, sensum communem abstulit.


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


Forte vulpes viderat personam tragicam.

Postquam verterat personam huc illuc semel atque iterum

inquit: "O quanta species! Non habet cerebrum!"

Hoc dictum est illis,

quibus Fortuna tribuit honorem et gloriam,

abstulit sensum communem.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Perso~nam tragj~cam for~te vul~pes vi~derat;

quam post~qu(am h)uc il~luc sem~'l atqu(e) it'~rum ver~terat,

'O quan~ta spec~jes' in~quit 'c're~brum non ~ habet!'

Hoc il~lis dic~t(um) est qui~b's hono~r(em) et glo~riam

Fortu~na trib~vit, sen~sum com~mun(em) ab~stulit.




By chance a fox saw a tragic actor's mask. After he had turned the mask this way and that over and over again, the fox said: "O such beauty: but it has no brains!" This is said for those to whom Fortune has given glory and honor, while depriving them of common sense.


[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.]


The Fox and the Tragic Mask (trans. C. Smart)

A Fox beheld a Mask- "0 rare

The headpiece, if but brains were there !"

This holds-whene'er the Fates dispense

Pomp, pow'r, and everything but sense.




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



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