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I.16. Ovis, Cervus et Lupus


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 477.


Fraudator homines cum advocat sponsum improbos,

non rem expedire, sed malum ordiri expetit.

Ovem rogabat cervus modium tritici,

lupo sponsore. At illa, praemetuens dolum,

'Rapere atque abire semper adsuevit lupus;

tu de conspectu fugere veloci impetu.

Ubi vos requiram, cum dies advenerit?'


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


Cum fraudator advocat sponsum homines improbos,

non expetit expedire rem, sed ordiri malum.

Cervus rogabat ovem modium tritici,

lupo sponsore.

At illa, praemetuens dolum:

"Lupus semper adsuevit rapere atque abire;

tu fugere de conspectu veloci impetu.

Ubi requiram vos, cum dies advenerit?"


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Frauda~tor hom'~nes c(um) ad~vocat ~ spons(um) im~probos,

non r(em) ex~pedi~re, sed ~ mal(um) or~dir(i) ex~petit.

Ovem ~ roga~bat cer~vus mod~jum tri~tici,

lupo ~ sponso~r(e). At il~la, prae~metvens ~ dolum,

'Rap'r(e) at~qu(e) abi~re sem~per ad~suevit ~ lupus;

tu de ~ conspec~tu fug'~re ve~loc(i) im~petu.

Ubi ~ vos re~quiram, ~ cum djes ~ adven~erit?'




When a liar names dishonest men as his guarantee, he is not seeking to do business but to plot evil. The stag asked the sheep for a measure of wheat, with the wolf as his co-signer. But the sheep, foreseeing a trick, said: "The wolf has always been in the habit of grabbing things and running away, and you have always been in the habit of escaping out of sight with a burst of speed. Where will I find you both when the day of reckoning arrives?"


[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 Sheep, the Stag, and the Wolf (trans. C. Smart)

When one rogue would another get

For surety in a case of debt,

'Tis not the thing t' accept the terms,

But dread th' event-the tale affirms.

A Stag approached the Sheep, to treat

For one good bushel of her wheat.

"The honest Wolf will give his bond."

At which, beginning to despond,

"The Wolf (cries she) 's a vagrant bite,

And you are quickly out of sight;

Where shall I find or him or you

Upon the day the debt is due ?"




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



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