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II.7. Muli Duo et Latrones


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 491.


Muli gravati sarcinis ibant duo:

unus ferebat fiscos cum pecunia,

alter tumentis multo saccos hordeo.

ille onere dives celsa cervice eminens,

clarumque collo iactans tintinabulum;

comes quieto sequitur et placido gradu.

subito latrones ex insidiis advolant,

interque caedem ferro ditem sauciant:

diripiunt nummos, neglegunt vile hordeum.

spoliatus igitur casus cum fleret suos,

"Equidem" inquit alter "me contemptum gaudeo;

nam nil amisi, nec sum laesus vulnere".

Hoc argumento tuta est hominum tenuitas,

magnae periclo sunt opes obnoxiae.


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


Duo muli ibant

gravati sarcinis:

unus ferebat fiscos cum pecunia,

alter ferebat saccos tumentis multo hordeo.

Ille dives onere

eminens celsa cervice

et iactans collo clarum tintinabulum;

comes sequitur quieto et placido gradu.

Latrones advolant subito ex insidiis

et inter caedem sauciant ferro ditem:

diripiunt nummos,

neglegunt vile hordeum.


cum spoliatus fleret casus suos,

alter inquit

"Equidem gaudeo me contemptum;

nam amisi nil,

et non sum laesus vulnere."

Hoc argumento

tenuitas hominum est tuta,

opes sunt obnoxiae magnae periclo.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Muli ~ grava~ti sar~cinis ~ ibant ~ duo:

unus ~ fere~bat fis~cos cum ~ pecu~nia,

alter ~ tumen~tis mul~to sac~cos hor~deo.

ill(e) on'~re di~ves cel~sa cer~vic(e) e~minens,

clarum~que col~lo iac~tans tin~tina~bulum;

comes ~ quie~to seq'~tur et ~ plac'do ~ gradu.

sub'to ~ latro~nes ex ~ insid~jis ad~volant,

inter~que cae~dem fer~ro di~tem sau~ciant:

diripj~unt num~mos, neg~legunt ~ vil(e h)or~deum.

spolja~tus ig'~tur ca~sus cum ~ fleret ~ suos,

"Eq'd(em)" in~quit al~ter "me ~ contemp~tum gau~deo;

nam nil ~ ami~si, nec ~ sum lae~sus vul~nere".

Hoc ar~gumen~to tu~t(a) est hom'~num ten~vitas,

magnae ~ peri~clo sunt ~ opes ~ obnox~iae.




Two mules were walking along, weighed down by bundles: one mule was carrying bags with money, while the other mule was carrying sacks stuffed with lots of barley. The mule who was rich with his load proudly lifted his head, tossing the little bell on his neck, while his companion followed along at a calm and quiet pace. Robbers suddenly swooped down on them from an ambush and in the slaughter they wounded the rich mule with a sword: they grabbed the money, and ignored the worthless barley. Therefore when the mule who had been stripped was bewailing his fate, the other mule said: "Indeed, I am glad that I was treated with contempt; for I lost nothing and I have not suffered a wound." With this fable you can see that people's poverty is safe, while riches are exposed to great danger.


[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 Mules and Robbers (trans. C. Smart)

Two laden Mules were on the road-

A charge of money was bestowed

Upon the one, the other bore

Some sacks of barley. He before.

Proud of his freight, begun to swell,

Stretch'd out his neck, and shook his bell

The poor one, with an easy pace,

Came on behind a little space,

When on a sudden, from the wood

A gang of thieves before them stood;

And, while the muleteers engage,

Wound the poor creature in their rage

Eager they seize the golden prize,

But the vile barley-bags despise.

The plunder'd mule was all forlorn,

The other thank'd them for their scorn:

" 'Tis now my turn the head to toss,

Sustaining neither wound nor loss."

The low estate's from peril clear,

But wealthy men have much to fear.




Here is an image of two mules:



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