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IV.3. Vulpis et Uva


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 15.


Fame coacta vulpes alta in vinea

uvam adpetebat, summis saliens viribus.

Quam tangere ut non potuit, discedens ait:

"Nondum matura es; nolo acerbam sumere."

Qui, facere quae non possunt, verbis elevant,

adscribere hoc debebunt exemplum sibi.


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


Vulpes coacta fame

adpetebat uvam in alta vinea,

saliens summis viribus.

Ut non potuit tangere uvam,

discedens ait:

"Nondum matura es; nolo sumere acerbam."

Debebunt adscribere hoc exemplum sibi

qui verbis elevant haec,

quae non possunt facere.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Fame ~ coac~ta vul~pes al~t(a) in vi~nea

uv(am) ad~pete~bat, sum~mis sal~jens vi~ribus.

Quam tan~ger(e) ut ~ non pot~vit, dis~cedens ~ ait:

"Nondum ~ matu~r(a) es; no~l(o) acer~bam su~mere."

Qui, fac'~re quae ~ non pos~sunt, ver~bis e~levant,

adscri~ber(e h)oc ~ debe~bunt ex~emplum ~ sibi.




Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine, leaping with all her strength. As she couldn't manage to reach the grapes, she went away and said: "You aren't even ripe yet! I don't eat sour grapes."

People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain should apply this instructive little story to their own lives.


[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 Fox and the Grapes (trans. C. Smart)

An hungry Fox with fierce attack

Sprang on a Vine, but tumbled back,

Nor could attain the point in view,

So near the sky the bunches grew.

As he went off, "They're scurvy stuff,"

Says he, "and not half ripe enough--

And I 've more rev'rence for my tripes

Than to torment them with the gripes."

For those this tale is very pat

Who lessen what they can't come at.




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




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