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IV.19. Canes Legatos Miserunt ad Iouem


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 517.


Canes legatos olim misere ad Iouem
meliora uitae tempora oratum suae,
ut sese eriperet hominum contumeliis,
furfuribus sibi consparsum quod panem darent
fimoque turpi maxime explerent famem.
Profecti sunt legati non celeri pede;
dum naribus scrutantur escam in stercore,
citati non respondent. Vix tandem inuenit
eos Mercurius et turbatos adtrahit.
Tum uero uultum magni ut uiderunt Iouis,
totam timentes concacarunt regiam.
Vetat dimitti magnus illos Iuppiter;
propulsi uero fustibus uadunt foras.
mirari sibi legatos non reuertier;
turpe aestimantes aliquid commissum a suis,
post aliquod tempus alios ascribi iubent.
Rumor cacatus superiores prodidit;
timentes rursus aliquid ne simile accidat,
odore canibus anum, sed multo, replent.
Mandata dant; legati mittuntur; statim
abeunt; rogantes aditum continuo impetrant.
Consedit genitor tum deorum maximus
quassatque fulmen; tremere coepere omnia.
Canes confusi, subitus quod fuerat fragor,
repente, odore mixto cum merdis, cacant.
Di clamant omnes uindicandam iniuriam.
Sic est locutus ante poenam Iuppiter:
"Non est legatos regis non dimittere,
nec est difficile poenas culpae imponere.
Sed hoc feretur pro ludibrio praemium:
non ueto dimitti, uerum cruciari fame,
ne uentrem continere non possint suum.
Illi autem qui miserunt bis tam futtiles
numquam carebunt hominum contumelia."
Ita nunc legatos expectantes posteri,
nouum ut uenire quis uidet culum olfacit.


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


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Once upon a time, the dogs sent ambassadors to Jupiter to ask him to improve the conditions of their life and to save them from being mistreated by people who fed them nothing but bread that was full of bran, compelling them to satisfy their hunger with unspeakable filth. The ambassadors set out on their mission but were hardly swift of foot: instead they sniffed for food in heaps of manure and did not even come when called. With considerable difficulty Mercury found them at last and dragged them into heaven. The dogs were wild with excitement but when they glimpsed the face of mighty Jupiter, they were stricken with fear and covered the floors of the palace with shit. They were chased out with clubs and went outside, but Jupiter would not let them depart. Meanwhile, the dogs back home were surprised when their ambassadors did not return. After a while they concluded that the mission must have ended in an embarrassing failure, so the dogs ordered that other ambassadors be appointed in their place. Eventually they learned the full story of their predecessors' shitty performance, and they were afraid that something similar might happen once again, so this time they stuffed the dogs' behinds full of perfume. The ambassadors received their orders and were sent on their journey; as soon as they requested an audience in heaven, it was granted. The supreme father of the gods took his seat and as he rattled his thunderbolt, the universe quaked. The dogs were startled by the sudden upheaval and promptly pooped, their shit now mixed with perfume. The gods all demanded that the dogs pay for this outrage so Jupiter issued the following decree before punishing the dogs: 'A king cannot refuse ambassadors leave to depart, and it is hard to decide on a penalty that suits their behaviour, but their insolent prank cannot go unrewarded: accordingly, I will not prevent their departure, but I condemn them to a starvation diet, so that they will be able to keep control of their bowels. Meanwhile, those dogs who twice appointed such incontinent incompetents as their ambassadors will forever be humiliated by mankind.' As a result, dogs of this later age are still on the look-out for their ambassadors, so whenever a strange dog crosses their path, they take a whiff of his behind.




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