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Appendix 22. Ursus Esuriens


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 550.


Si quando in silvis urso desunt copiae,

scopulosum ad litus currit et prendens petram

pilosa crura sensim demittit vado;

quorum inter villos haeserunt cancri simul,

in terram adsiliens excutit praedam maris,

escaque fruitur passim collecta vafer.

Ergo etiam stultis acuit ingenium fames.


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


Si quando copiae desunt urso in silvis,

currit ad scopulosum litus

et prendens petram

sensim demittit vado pilosa crura;

cancri simul haeserunt inter villos crurum

adsiliens in terram

excutit praedam maris,

et vafer fruitur esca collecta passim.

Ergo fames acuit ingenium etiam stultis.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Si quan~d(o) in sil~vis ur~so de~sunt co~piae,

scop'lo~s(um) ad li~tus cur~rit et ~ prendens ~ petram

pilo~sa cru~ra sen~sim de~mittit ~ vado;

quor(um) in~ter vil~los hae~serunt ~ cancri ~ simul,

in ter~r(am) adsil~jens ex~cutit ~ praedam ~ maris,

esca~que frui~tur pas~sim col~lecta ~ vafer.

Erg(o) et~jam stul~tis ac~vit in~genjum ~ fames.




If the food supply ever runs low for the bear in the woods, he runs down to the rocky shore and, grabbing onto a rock, he gradually lowers his bristly legs into the stream; as soon as crabs have grabbed onto the hairs of his shanks, he leaps up onto the land and shakes off the prizes of the sea, and he cleverly enjoys the food he has collected all over his legs. So it is that hunger sharpens the wits of even foolish people.


[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.]




Here is an illustration from an early printed edition (this shows bears, but not this particular story); click on the image for a larger view.




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