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III.15. Canis ad Agnum


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 506.


Inter capellas agno palanti canis

"Stulte" inquit "erras; non est hic mater tua."

Ovesque segregatas ostendit procul.

"Non illam quaero quae cum libitum est concipit,

dein portat onus ignotum certis mensibus,

novissime prolapsam effundit sarcinam;

verum illam quae me nutrit admoto ubere,

fraudatque natos lacte ne desit mihi."

"Tamen illa est potior quae te peperit." "Non ita.

Beneficium sane magnum natali dedit,

ut expectarem lanium in horas singulas!

Unde illa scivit niger an albus nascerer?

Age porro, parere si voluisset feminam,

quid profecisset cum crearer masculus?

Cuius potestas nulla in gignendo fuit,

cur hac sit potior quae iacentis miserita est,

dulcemque sponte praestat benevolentiam?

Facit parentes bonitas, non necessitas."


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


Canis inquit agno

palanti inter capellas

"Stulte, erras; tua mater non est hic."

Et ostendit segregatas oves procul.

"Non quaero illam

quae concipit cum libitum est,

dein portat ignotum onus certis mensibus,

novissime effundit prolapsam sarcinam;

verum quaero illam

quae nutrit me

admoto ubere,

et fraudat natos lacte

ne desit mihi."

"Tamen illa quae peperit te

est potior."

"Non ita.

Sane dedit magnum beneficium


ut expectarem lanium in singulas horas!

Unde illa scivit

nascerer niger an albus?

Age porro, si voluisset parere feminam,

quid profecisset cum crearer masculus?

Ei fuit nulla potestas in gignendo:

cur potior sit hac

quae miserita est iacentis

et sponte praestat dulcem benevolentiam?

Bonitas facit parentes, non necessitas."


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Inter ~ capel~las ag~no pa~lanti ~ canis

"Stult(e)" in~quit "er~ras; non ~ est hic ~ mater ~ tua."

Oves~que se~grega~tas os~tendit ~ procul.

"Non il~lam quae~ro quae ~ cum lib'~t(um) est con~cipit,

dein por~tat on'~s igno~tum cer~tis men~sibus,

novis~sime ~ prolap~s(am) effun~dit sar~cinam;

ver(um) il~lam quae ~ me nu~trit ad~mot(o) u~bere,

fraudat~que na~tos lac~te ne ~ desit ~ mihi."

"Tam'n il~l(a) est pot~jor quae ~ te pep'~rit." "Non ~ ita.

Ben'fic~jum sa~ne mag~num na~tali ~ dedit,

ut ex~pecta~rem lan~j(um) in ho~ras sin~gulas!

Und(e) il~la sci~vit nig'~r an al~bus nas~cerer?

Ag' por~ro, pa~rer' si ~ volvis~set fe~minam,

quid pro~fecis~set cum ~ crea~rer mas~culus?

Cuius ~ potes~tas nul~l(a) in gig~nendo ~ fuit,

cur hac ~ sit pot~jor quae ~ iacen~tis mis'~rit(a) est,

dulcem~que spon~te prae~stat ben'~volen~tiam?

Facit ~ paren~tes bon'~tas, non ~ neces~sitas."




A dog said to a lamb who was bleating among the goats: "You fool, you are mistaken: your mother is not here." And the dog pointed out the separate flock of sheep in the distance. The lamb said: "I am not looking for the one who conceived when she felt like it, then carried her unknown burden for a certain number of months, and in the end simply let go and plopped her bundle on the ground. The fact is that I am looking for the one who offers me her udder and feeds me, and even cheats her own children of milk so that I do not lack milk." The dog said: "But the one who gave birth to you is more important." The lamb said: "Not so. As if she did some great favor with my birth, so that I have to be watching out for the butcher at any moment! How did she even know whether I would be born black or white? So tell me: if she had wanted to give birth to a girl, what good could it have done her since I'm a boy? She had no say at all in my being born: why then should she be more important than the one who took pity on me as I was lying there and freely gives me her sweet affection?" Goodness makes parents, not duress.


[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 Dog and the Lamb (trans. C. Smart)

A Dog bespoke a sucking Lamb,

That used a she-goat as her dam,

" You little fool, why, how you baa!

This goat is not your own mamma :"

Then pointed to a distant mead,

Where several sheep were put to feed.

" I ask not," says the Lamb, "for her

Who had me first at Nature's spur,

And bore me for a time about,

Then, like a fardel, threw me out;

But her that is content to bilk

Her own dear kids, to give me milk."

" Yet she that yean'd you sure," says Tray,

" Should be preferr'd"-- I tell thee nay---

Whence could she know that what she hid

Was black or white ?-but grant she did--

I being thus a male begot

'Twas no great favor, since my lot

Was hour by hour, throughout my life,

To dread the butcher and his knife.

Why should I therefore give my voice

For her who had no pow'r or choice

In my production, and not cleave

To her so ready to relieve,

When she beheld me left alone,

And has such sweet indulgence shown ?"

Kind deeds parental love proclaim

Not mere necessity and name.




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




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