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IV.9. Vulpis et Caper


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 9.


Homo in periclum simul ac venit callidus,

reperire effugium quaerit alterius malo.

Cum decidisset vulpes in puteum inscia

et altiore clauderetur margine,

devenit hircus sitiens in eundem locum.

Simul rogavit, esset an dulcis liquor

et copiosus, illa fraudem moliens:

"Descende, amice; tanta bonitas est aquae,

voluptas ut satiari non possit mea."

Immisit se barbatus. Tum vulpecula

evasit puteo, nixa celsis cornibus,

hircumque clauso liquit haerentem vado.


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


Homo callidus simul ac venit in periclum,

quaerit reperire effugium

malo alterius.

Cum vulpes inscia decidisset in puteum

et clauderetur altiore margine,

hircus sitiens devenit in eundem locum.

Simul rogavit,

an liquor esset dulcis et copiosus,

illa dixit

moliens fraudem:

"Descende, amice;

tanta est bonitas aquae,

ut mea voluptas non possit satiari."

Barbatus se immisit.

Tum vulpecula

nixa celsis cornibus

evasit puteo

et liquit hircum haerentem clauso vado.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Hom(o) in ~ peri~clum sim'l ~ ac ve~nit cal~lidus,

rep'ri~r(e) effug~jum quae~rit al~terjus ~ malo.

Cum de~cidis~set vul~pes in ~ pute(um) in~scia

et al~tio~re clau~dere~tur mar~gine,

deve~nit hir~cus sit~jens in ~ eundem ~ locum.

Simul ~ roga~vit, es~set an ~ dulcis ~ liquor

et co~pio~sus, il~la frau~dem mo~liens:

"Descen~d(e), ami~ce; tan~ta bon'~tas est ~ aquae,

volup~tas ut ~ satja~ri non ~ possit ~ mea."

Immi~sit se ~ barba~tus. Tum ~ vulpe~cula

eva~sit pu~teo, ni~xa cel~sis cor~nibus,

hircum~que clau~so li~quit hae~rentem ~ vado.




As soon as someone clever gets into trouble, he tries to find a way out at someone else's expense. A fox had unwittingly fallen down a well and found herself trapped inside its quite high walls. Meanwhile, a thirsty goat had made his way to that same place and asked the fox whether the water was fresh and plentiful. The fox laid her trap: "Come down, my friend. The water is so good that I cannot get enough of it myself!" The bearded billy-goat lowered himself into the well, whereupon that little vixen leaped up on his lofty horns and emerged from the hole, leaving the goat stuck inside the watery prison.


[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 Goat (trans. C. Smart)

A crafty knave will make escape,

When once he gets into a scrape,

Still meditating self-defence,

At any other man's expense.

A Fox by some disaster fell

Into a deep and fenced well:

A thirsty Goat came down in haste,

And ask'd about the water's taste,

If it was plentiful and sweet ?

At which the Fox, in rank deceit,

" So great the solace of the run,

I thought I never should have done.

Be quick, my friend, your sorrows drown,"

This said, the silly Goat comes down.

The subtle Fox herself avails,

And by his horns the mound she scales,

And leaves the Goat in all the mire,

To gratify his heart's desire.




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




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