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III.19. Aesopus Respondet Garrulo


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 510.


Aesopus domino solus cum esset familia,

parare cenam iussus est maturius.

Ignem ergo quaerens aliquot lustravit domus,

tandemque invenit ubi lacernam accenderet,

tum circumeunti fuerat quod iter longius

effecit brevius: namque recta per forum

coepit redire. Et quidam e turba garrulus:

"Aesope, medio sole quid tu lumine?"

"Hominem" inquit "quaero." Et abiit festinans domum.

Hoc si molestus ille ad animum rettulit,

sensit profecto se hominem non visum seni,

intempestive qui occupato adluserit.


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



cum esset solus domino familia,

iussus est parare cenam maturius.

Ergo quaerens ignem

lustravit aliquot domus,

et tandem invenit

ubi accenderet lacernam,

tum quod fuerat iter longius


effecit iter brevius:

namque coepit redire recta per forum.

Et quidam garrulus e turba:

"Aesope, quid tu lumine

medio sole?"


"Quaero hominem."

Et festinans abiit domum.

Si ille molestus rettulit hoc ad animum,

profecto sensit

se non visum seni hominem,

qui intempestive adluserit occupato.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Aeso~pus dom'~no so~lus c(um) es~set fam~lia,

para~re ce~nam ius~sus est ~ matu~rius.

Ign(em) er~go quae~rens al'~quot lus~travit ~ domus,

tandem~qu(e) inve~nit ub' ~ lacer~n(am) accen~deret,

tum cir~c(um)eun~t' fverat ~ quod i~ter lon~gius

effe~cit brev~jus: nam~que rec~ta per ~ forum

coepit ~ redi~r(e). Et qui~d(am) e tur~ba gar~rulus:

"Aeso~pe, med~jo so~le quid ~ tu lu~mine?"

"Hom'n(em)" in~quit "quae~r(o)." Et ab~ijt fes~tinans ~ domum.

Hoc si ~ moles~tus il~l(e) ad an'~mum ret~tulit,

sensit ~ profec~to s(e h)om'~nem non ~ visum ~ seni,

intem~pesti~ve qu(i) oc~cupa~t(o) adlu~serit.




When Aesop was on his own his master's entire household, he was ordered to get dinner ready earlier than usual. Therefore, while looking for fire he went around several houses and at last he found a place where he could light his lamp. Then, because the journey had been rather long as he had taken a round-about way, Aesop made a short-cut and thus started on his way back directly through the marketplace. And there a chatterbox amidst the crowd said: "Aesop, what are you doing with a light at high noon?" Aesop said: "I'm looking for a real man." If that public nuisance had given this any thought, he would have immediately realized that as far as old Aesop was concerned, he wasn't a man at all, since he was making inept jokes with a busy person.


[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.]


Esop and the Importunate Fellow (trans. C. Smart)

Esop (no other slave at hand)

Received himself his lord's command

An early supper to provide.

From house to house he therefore tried

To beg the favor of a light;

At length he hit upon the right.

But as when first he sallied out

He made his tour quite round about,

On his return he took a race

Directly, cross the market-place:

When thus a talkative buffoon,

" Esop, what means this light at noon ?'

He answer'd briefly, as he ran,

"Fellow, I'm looking for a man."

Now if this jackanapes had weighed

The true intent of what was said,

He'd found that Esop had no sense

Of manhood in impertinence.




Since this story is also told about the philosopher Diogenes, I thought I would include an image of Diogenes here, as painted by Waterhouse:




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