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II.4. Aquila, Feles et Aper


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 488.


Aquila in sublimi quercu nidum fecerat;

feles, cavernam nancta in media, pepererat;

sus nemoris cultrix fetum ad imam posuerat.

tum fortuitum feles contubernium

fraude et scelesta sic evertit malitia.

ad nidum scandit volucris: "Pernicies" ait

tibi paratur, forsan et miserae mihi.

nam, fodere terram quod vides cotidie

aprum insidiosum, quercum vult evertere,

ut nostram in plano facile progeniem opprimat.

terrore offuso et perturbatis sensibus

derepit ad cubile saetosae suis;

"Magno" inquit "in periclo sunt nati tui.

nam, simul exieris pastum cum tenero grege,

aquila est parata rapere porcellos tibi".

hunc quoque timore postquam complevit locum,

dolosa tuto condidit sese cavo:

inde evagata noctu suspenso pede,

ubi esca sese explevit et prolem suam,

pavorem simulans prospicit toto die.

ruinam metuens aquila ramis desidet:

aper rapinam vitans non prodit foras.

quid multa? inedia sunt consumpti cum suis,

felisque catulis largam praebuerat dapem.

Quantum homo bilinguis saepe concinnet mali,

documentum habere hinc stulta credulitas potest.


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


Aquila fecerat nidum in sublimi quercu;

feles, nancta cavernam in media, pepererat;

sus, cultrix nemoris, posuerat fetum ad imam.

tum feles sic evertit fortuitum contubernium

fraude et scelesta malitia.

scandit ad nidum volucris,

ait: "Pernicies tibi paratur,

forsan et mihi miserae.

Nam vides quod

insidiosum aprum fodere terram cotidie;

vult evertere quercum,

ut facile opprimat nostram progeniem in plano.

terrore offuso

et sensibus perturbatis

derepit ad cubile saetosae suis;

inquit: "Tui nati sunt in magno periclo.

Nam, simul exieris pastum

cum tenero grege,

aquila parata est

rapere tibi porcellos."

Postquam complevit

hunc locum quoque


dolosa condidit sese tuto cavo:

inde evagata noctu

suspenso pede,

ubi explevit esca sese et prolem suam,

simulans pavorem

prospicit toto die.


metuens ruinam

desidet ramis:


vitans rapinam

non prodit foras.

quid multa?

consumpti sunt inedia

cum suis,

et felis praebuerat catulis largam dapem.

hinc stulta credulitas potest habere documentum

quantum mali homo bilinguis saepe concinnet.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Aq'l(a) in ~ subli~mi quer~cu ni~dum fe~cerat;

feles, ~ caver~nam nanc~t(a) in med~ja, pep'~rerat;

sus nem'~ris cul~trix fe~t(um) ad i~mam pos~verat.

tum for~tui~tum fe~les con~tuber~nium

fraud(e) et ~ sceles~ta sic ~ ever~tit mal'~tia.

ad ni~dum scan~dit vol'~cris: "Per~nicjes" ~ ait

tibi ~ para~tur, for~san 't mi~serae ~ mihi.

nam, fod'~re ter~ram quod ~ vides ~ coti~die

apr(um) in~sidjo~sum, quer~cum vult ~ ever~tere,

ut nos~tr(am) in pla~no fac'~le pro~genj(em) op~primat.

terro~r(e) offu~s(o) et per~turba~tis sen~sibus

dere~pit ad ~ cubi~le sae~tosae ~ suis;

"Magn(o)" in~quit "in ~ peri~clo sunt ~ nati ~ tui.

nam, sim'~l exi'~ris pas~tum cum ~ ten'ro ~ grege,

aq'l(a) est ~ para~ta rap'~re por~cellos ~ tibi".

hunc quoq~' timo~re post~quam com~plevit ~ locum,

dolo~sa tu~to con~didit ~ sese ~ cavo:

ind(e) e~vaga~ta noc~tu sus~penso ~ pede,

ub(i) es~ca se~s(e) exple~vit et ~ prolem ~ suam,

pavo~rem sim'~lans pro~spicit ~ toto ~ die.

rui~nam met~vens aq'~la ra~mis de~sidet:

aper ~ rapi~nam vi~tans non ~ prodit ~ foras.

quid mul~t(a)? ined~ja sunt ~ consump~ti cum ~ suis,

felis~que cat'~lis lar~gam prae~bverat ~ dapem.

Quant(um h)om' ~ bilin~guis sae~pe con~cinnet ~ mali,

doc'men~t(um h)abe~r(e h)inc stul~ta cred'~litas ~ potest.




An eagle had made her nest up high in an oak tree; meanwhile, a cat, having found a hollow halfway up the tree, had given birth to kittens; finally, at the foot of the tree a forest-dwelling sow had deposited her litter of piglets. Then the cat destroyed this chance company with trickery and criminal mischief as follows: she went up to the bird's nest and said: "Destruction is being prepared for you, and perhaps for poor little old me too. For you see the fact that the treacherous boar keeps digging in the dirt day after day; she wants to knock down the oak tree so that she can easily attack our offspring down there on the ground." Having spread fear and disturbed the eagle's mind, the cat crept down to the lair of the bristly sow and said: "Your children are in great danger, for as soon as you go out to feed with the gentle flock, the eagle is ready to seize your little piglets." Having filled the boar's house too with fear, the tricky cat hid herself in the safety of her cave, creeping out from there at night on tiptoe, she filled herself and her offspring with food, while pretending fear as she peeped out all day long. The eagle, fearing destruction, sat on the branches; the boar, fearing attack, did not venture outdoors. Why say more? They both died of hunger, together with their children, and the cat offered her kittens an enormous feast. From this fable foolish gullibility can learn a lesson about how much wickedness a fork-tongued person frequently composes.


[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 Eagle, the Cat, and the Sow (trans. C. Smart)

An Eagle built upon an oak

A Cat and kittens had bespoke

A hole about the middle bough;

And underneath a woodland Sow

Had placed her pigs upon the ground.

Then treacherous Puss a method found

To overthrow, for her own good,

The peace of this chance neighbourhood

First to the Eagle she ascends-

" Perdition on your head impends,

And, far too probable, on mine;

For you observe that grubbing Swine

Still works the tree to overset,

Us and our young with ease to get."

Thus having filled the Eagle's pate

With consternation very great,

Down creeps she to the Sow below;

" The Eagle is your deadly foe,

And is determined not to spare

Your pigs, when you shall take the air.

Here too a terror being spread,

By what this tattling gossip said,

She slily to her kittens stole,

And rested snug within her hole.

Sneaking from thence with silent treai

By night her family she fed,

But look'd out sharply all the day,

Affecting terror and dismay.

The Eagle lest the tree should fall,

Keeps to the boughs, nor stirs at all;

And anxious for her grunting race,

The Sow is loth to quit her place.

In short, they and their young ones starve

And leave a prey for Puss to carve.

Hence warn'd ye credulous and young,

Be cautious of a double tongue.




Here is an illustration of a cat from a medieval manuscript:



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