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IV.18. De Fortunis Hominum


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 78.


Cum de fortunis quidam quereretur suis,

Aesopus finxit consolandi hoc gratia.

"Vexata saevis navis tempestatibus

inter vectorum lacrimas et mortis metum,

faciem ad serenam ut subito mutatur dies,

ferri secundis tuta coepit flatibus

nimiaque nautas hilaritate extollere.

Factus periclo sic gubernator sophus:

"Parce gaudere oportet et sensim queri,

totam quia uvitam miscet dolor et gaudium."


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


Cum quidam quereretur de suis fortunis,

Aesopus finxit hoc

gratia consolandi:


vexata saevis tempestatibus

inter lacrimas vectorum et metum mortis,

ut subito dies mutatur ad serenam faciem,

coepit tuta ferri secundis flatibus

et extollere nautas nimia hilaritate.


sic factus sophus periclo:


gaudere parce et queri sensim,

quia dolor et gaudium miscet totam vitam."


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Cum de ~ fortu~nis qui~dam quer'~retur ~ suis,

Aeso~pus fin~xit con~solan~d(i) hoc gra~tia.

"Vexa~ta sae~vis na~vis tem~pesta~tibus

inter ~ vecto~rum lacr'~mas et ~ mortis ~ metum,

facj(em) ad ~ sere~n(am) ut sub'~to mu~tatur ~ dies,

ferri ~ secun~dis tu~ta coe~pit fla~tibus

nimja~que nau~tas hil'~rita~t(e) extol~lere.

Factus ~ peri~clo sic ~ guber~nator ~ sophus:

"Parce ~ gaude~r(e) opor~tet et ~ sensim ~ queri,

totam ~ quia vi~tam mis~cet do~lor 't gau~dium."




When a man was complaining about his luck, Aesop invented this story in order to console him: 'As a ship was being tossed by relentless waves, amidst the tears of the passengers and their fear of death, all of a sudden the day took on a tranquil appearance and as it did so, the ship surged ahead, safe, borne by favourable winds, lifting the spirits of the sailors excessively. Then the ship's pilot (a man made wise by the dangers he had faced) said to them, "It is better to be restrained in your rejoicing and to despair not too much, because both grief and joy color all of life."'


[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 Pilot and Sailors (trans. C. Smart)

On hearing a poor man lament

His worldly thoughts in discontent,

Esop this tale began to write,

For consolation and delight.

The ship by furious tempests tossed,

The Mariners gave all for lost;

But midst their tears and dread, the scene

Is changed at once, and all serene.

The wind is fair, the vessel speeds,

The Sailors' boisterous joy exceeds:

The Pilot then, by peril wise,

Was prompted to philosophise.

"'Tis right to put a due restraint

On joy, and to retard complaint,

Because alternate hope and fright

Make up our lives of black and white."




Here is an image of the mythological first ship, the Argo; click on the image for a larger view.




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