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I.17. Ovis, Canis et Lupus


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 478.


Solent mendaces luere poenas malefici.

Calumniator ab ove cum peteret canis,

quem commendasse panem se contenderet,

lupus, citatus testis, non unum modo

deberi dixit, verum adfirmavit decem.

Ovis, damnata falso testimonio,

quod non debebat, solvit. Post paucos dies

bidens iacentem in fovea prospexit lupum.

'Haec' inquit 'merces fraudis a superis datur'.


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


Malefici mendaces solent luere poenas.

Cum calumniator canis

peteret ab ove panem

quem contenderet se commendasse,

lupus, citatus testis, dixit

non unum modo deberi;

verum adfirmavit decem.

Ovis, damnata falso testimonio,

solvit quod non debebat.

Post paucos dies

bidens prospexit lupum iacentem in fovea.

Inquit: "Haec merces fraudis datur a superis."


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Solent ~ menda~ces lu'~re poe~nas mal'~fici.

Calum~njator ~ ab o~ve cum ~ pet'ret ~ canis,

quem com~mendas~se pa~nem se ~ conten~deret,

lupus, ~ cita~tus tes~tis, non ~ unum ~ modo

debe~ri dix~it, ve~r(um) adfir~mavit ~ decem.

Ovis, ~ damna~ta fal~so tes~timo~nio,

quod non ~ debe~bat, sol~vit. Post ~ paucos ~ dies

bidens ~ iacen~t(em) in foev~a pro~spexit ~ lupum.

'Haec' in~quit 'me~rces frau~dis a ~ sup'ris ~ datur'.




Evil con men generally pay the price. When a lying dog demanded from the sheep a loaf of bread which the dog contended he had loaned to the sheep, the wolf, summoned as a witness, said that not just one loaf was owed; in fact, he said the sheep owed ten loaves. The sheep, convicted by false evidence, had to pay back what she did not owe. After a few days, the sheep saw the wolf lying in a ditch. She said: "These are the wages of deceit granted by the gods."


[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 Dog, and the Wolf (trans. C. Smart)

Liars are liable to rue

The mischief they 're so prone to do.

The Sheep a Dog unjustly dunn'd

One loaf directly to refund,

Which he the Dog to the said Sheep

Had given in confidence to keep.

The Wolf was summoned, and he swore

It was not one, but ten or more.

The Sheep was therefore cast at law

To pay for things she never saw.

But, lo! ere many days ensued,

Dead in a ditch the Wolf she view'd:

"This, this," she cried, "is Heaven's decree

Of justice on a wretch like thee."




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



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