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II.6. Aquila et Cornix


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 490.


Contra potentes nemo est munitus satis;

si vero accessit consiliator maleficus,

vis et nequitia quicquid oppugnant, ruit.

Aquila in sublime sustulit testudinem:

quae cum abdidisset cornea corpus domo,

nec ullo pacto laedi posset condita,

venit per auras cornix, et propter volans

"Opimam sane praedam rapuisti unguibus;

sed, nisi monstraro quid sit faciendum tibi,

gravi nequiquam te lassabit pondere."

promissa parte suadet ut scopulum super

altis ab astris duram inlidat corticem,

qua comminuta facile vescatur cibo.

inducta vafris aquila monitis paruit,

simul et magistrae large divisit dapem.

sic tuta quae naturae fuerat munere,

impar duabus, occidit tristi nece.


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


Nemo munitus est satis

contra potentes;

si vero consiliator maleficus accessit,

ruit quicquid

vis et nequitia oppugnant.

Aquila sustulit testudinem in sublime.

Cum testudo abdidisset corpus cornea domo,

et condita

non posset laedi

ullo pacto,

cornix venit per auras

et volans propter:

"Sane rapuisti unguibus

opimam praedam;

sed, nisi monstraro

quid tibi faciendum sit,

nequiquam lassabit te gravi pondere."

Promissa parte


ut aquila inlidat duram corticem

ab altis astris

super scopulum;

cortice comminuta

facile vescatur cibo.

Aquila paruit,

inducta vafris monitis,

simul et large divisit dapem


Sic testudo,

quae fuerat tuta

munere naturae,

impar duabus,

occidit tristi nece.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Contra ~ poten~tes ne~m(o) est mu~nitus ~ satis;

si ve~r(o) acces~sit con~sijia~tor mal'~ficus,

vis et ~ nequi~tja quic~quid op~pugnant, ~ ruit.

Aq'l(a) in ~ subli~me sus~tulit ~ testu~dinem:

quae c(um) ab~didis~set cor~nea ~ corpus ~ domo,

nec ul~lo pac~to lae~di pos~set con~dita,

venit ~ per au~ras cor~nix, et ~ propter ~ volans

"Opi~mam sa~ne prae~dam rap~vist(i) un~guibus;

sed, nis' ~ monstra~ro quid ~ sit fac~jendum ~ tibi,

gravi ~ nequi~quam te ~ lassa~bit pon~dere."

promis~sa par~te sua~det ut ~ scop'lum ~ super

altis ~ ab as~tris du~r(am) inli~dat cor~ticem,

qua com~minu~ta fac'~le ves~catur ~ cibo.

induc~ta va~fris aq'~la mon~'tis par~uit,

sim'l et ~ magis~trae lar~ge di~visit ~ dapem.

sic tu~ta quae ~ natu~rae fve~rat mu~nere,

impar ~ dua~bus, oc~cidit ~ tristi ~ nece.




No one is sufficiently well armed against powerful people; if in fact a malicious adviser is involved, anything rushes to ruin that their power and wickedness besieges. An eagle carried a tortoise into the air. When the tortoise hid its body in its home of horn and was thus hidden and could not be harmed in any strategy, a crow came through the air and flew near the eagle: "You have nicely grabbed with your talons this excellent prize, but unless I show you what you have to do, it will wear you out in vain with its heavy weight." Having been promised a share, the crow urges the eagle to strike the hard shell from the high stars upon a rocky crag; with the shell smashed, the eagle would easily be able to feed on the flesh. The eagle obeyed, persuaded by this crafty advice, and at the same time she also freely shared the feast with her instructor. Thus the tortoise, who had been protected by a gift of nature, was unequal to the two of them, and died a piteous death.


[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, Carrion Crow, and Tortoise (trans. C. Smart)

No soul can warrant life or right,

Secure from men of lawless might;

But if a knave's advice assist,

'Gainst fraud and force what can exist ?

An Eagle on a Tortoise fell,

And mounting bore him by the shell:

She with her house her body screens,

Nor can be hurt by any means.

A Carrion Crow came by that way,

" You've got," says she, " a luscious prey;

But soon its weight will make you rue,

Unless I show you what to do."

The captor promising a share,

She bids her from the upper air

To dash the shell against a rock,

Which would be sever'd by the shock.

The Eagle follows her behest,

Then feasts on turtle with his guest.

Thus she, whom Nature made so strong,

And safe against external wrong,

No match for force, and its allies,

To cruel death a victim dies.




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




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