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III.18. Pavo ad Iunonem


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 509.


Pavo ad Iunonem venit, indigne ferens

cantus luscinii quod sibi non tribuerit;

illum esse cunctis auribus mirabilem,

se derideri simul ac vocem miserit.

Tunc consolandi gratia dixit dea:

"Sed forma vincis, vincis magnitudine;

nitor smaragdi collo praefulget tuo,

pictisque plumis gemmeam caudam explicas."

"Quo mi" inquit "mutam speciem si vincor sono?"

"Fatorum arbitrio partes sunt vobis datae;

tibi forma, vires aquilae, luscinio melos,

augurium corvo, laeva cornici omina;

omnesque propriis sunt contentae dotibus.

Noli adfectare quod tibi non est datum,

delusa ne spes ad querelam reccidat."


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


Pavo venit ad Iunonem,

ferens indigne

quod non tribuerit sibi cantus luscinii;

illum esse mirabilem cunctis auribus,

se derideri

simul ac miserit vocem.

Tunc dea dixit

gratia consolandi:

"Sed vincis forma, vincis magnitudine;

nitor smaragdi praefulget tuo collo,

et explicas gemmeam caudam pictis plumis."

Pavo inquit:

"Quo mi mutam speciem, si vincor sono?"

"Partes datae sunt vobis arbitrio fatorum;

forma data est tibi,

vires aquilae, melos luscinio,

augurium corvo, laeva omina cornici;

et omnes contentae sunt propriis dotibus.

Noli adfectare quod non datum est tibi,

ne delusa spes reccidat ad querelam."


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Pav(o) ad ~ Iuno~nem ve~nit, in~digne ~ ferens

cantus ~ luscin~ii ~ quod sib' ~ non trib~verit;

ill(um) es~se cunc~tis au~ribus ~ mira~bilem,

se de~ride~ri sim'~l ac vo~cem mi~serit.

Tunc con~solan~di gra~tia ~ dixit ~ dea:

"Sed for~ma vin~cis, vin~cis mag~nitu~dine;

nitor ~ smarag~di col~lo prae~fulget ~ tuo,

pictis~que plu~mis gem~meam ~ caud(am) ex~plicas."

"Quo m(i)" in~quit "mu~tam spec~jem si ~ vincor ~ sono?"

"Fato~r(um) arbitr~jo par~tes sunt ~ vobis ~ datae;

tib' for~ma, vi~res aq'~lae, lus~cinjo ~ melos,

augur~jum cor~vo, lae~va cor~nic(i) o~mina;

omnes~que pro~prijs sunt ~ conten~tae do~tibus.

Nol(i) ad~fecta~re quod ~ tibi ~ non est ~ datum,

delu~sa ne ~ spes ad ~ quere~lam rec~cidat."




The peacock came to Juno, because he could not accept with equanimity the fact that the goddess had not given him the songs of the nightingale. The peacock complained that the nightingale was marvelous to every ear, while he, the peacock, was laughed at as soon as he made a sound. In order to console the peacock, Juno said: "You are superior in beauty and superior in size; there is an emerald splendor that shines about your neck, and you unfold a bejeweled tail with your painted feathers." The peacock said: "What good does this mute beauty do me, if I am inferior in voice?" Juno said: "The lots are given to you by the decision of the fates; beauty has been given to you, strength to the eagle, singing to the nightingale, prophecy to the raven, ominous signs to the crow and they are all contented with their gifts." Do not strive for something that was not given to you, lest your disappointed expectations lapse into discontent.


[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.]


Juno and the Peacock (trans. C. Smart)

Her favorite bird to Juno came,

And was in dudgeon at the dame,

That she had not attuned her throat

With Philomela's matchless note;

" She is the wonder of all ears;

But when I speak the audience sneers

The goddess to the bird replied,

(Willing to have him pacified,)

" You are above the rest endued

With beauty and with magnitude;

Your neck the emerald's gloss outvie?,

And what a blaze of gemmeous dies

Shines from the plumage of your tail!"

" All this dumb show will not avail,"

Cries he, "if I'm surpass'd in voice."

" The fates entirely have the choice

Of all the lots-fair form is yours;

The eagle's strength his prey secures;

The nightingale can sing an ode;

The crow and raven may forebode:

All these in sheer contentment crave

No other voice than Nature gave."

By affectation be not sway'd,

Where Nature has not lent her aid;

Nor to that flattering hope attend,

Which must in disappointment end.




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




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