The Fables of Phdrus - Literally translated into English prose with notes
by Phaedrus
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Transcriber's Note:

This e-text is intended for users whose text readers can display neither the "real" (Unicode, utf-8) version of the file nor the simplified Latin-1 version. Greek words in the Notes have been transliterated and shown between marks; eta and omega are shown as e: and o:. The "oe" and "ae" ligatures are written as the separate letters "oe" and "ae".

The text is taken from an omnibus volume that also contained Riley's translation of the six surviving plays of Terence. The full title page has been retained for completeness, but the sections of the Preface and Contents that apply only to Terence have been omitted.

In the original text, words and phrases supplied by the translator (Riley only) were printed in italics. In this e-text they are shown in {braces}. Italics in the notes and commentary are shown conventionally with lines, boldface by marks.

Footnotes have been renumbered within each Book, and grouped after their Fables. The name is spelled "Aesop" in Riley, "Esop" in Smart and in the Contents. Inconsistencies in fable numbering are described at the beginning of the Table of Contents.

Typographical errors are listed at the end of the text.]

* * * * * * * * *




Literally Translated into English Prose with Notes,

By HENRY THOMAS RILEY, B.A. Late Scholar Of Clare Hall, Cambridge.


London: George Bell & Sons, York Street, Covent Garden. 1887.


In the Translation of Phaedrus, the Critical Edition by Orellius, 1831, has been used, and in the Aesopian Fables, the text of the Parisian Edition of Gail, 1826. The Notes will, it is believed, be found to embody the little that is known of the contemporary history of the Author.

H. T. R.



[Transcriber's Note:

The Table of Contents refers primarily to the Riley text. Fables I.XXIX, III.III, and several Fables in Book IV are missing in Smart; Riley's Fable IV.I, "The Ass and the Priests of Cybele", is Smart's III.XIX. Where Smart's numbers are different, they have been added in [brackets] after the page reference.

In the text, Book III, Fable XI is "The Eunuch to the Abusive Man"; all following fables in Riley are numbered one higher than in the Table of Contents. This fable is missing from Smart but the number X is skipped, as was number I.XVIII.]


Prose. Verse. Prologue 365 473 Fable I. The Wolf and the Lamb 365 473 II. The Frogs asking for a King 366 474 III. The vain Jackdaw and the Peacock 367 475 IV. The Dog carrying some Meat across a River 368 476 V. The Cow, the She-Goat, the Sheep, and the Lion 368 476 VI. The Frogs' complaint against the Sun 369 476 VII. The Fox and the Tragic Mask 369 477 VIII. The Wolf and the Crane 370 477 IX. The Sparrow and the Hare 370 478 X. The Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape 371 478 XI. The Ass and the Lion hunting 371 478 XII. The Stag at the Stream 372 479 XIII. The Fox and the Raven 372 480 XIV. The Cobbler turned Physician 373 480 XV. The Ass and the Old Shepherd 373 481 XVI. The Stag, the Sheep, and the Wolf 374 481 XVII. The Sheep, the Dog, and the Wolf 374 482 XVIII. The Woman in Labour 375 —- XIX. The Bitch and her Whelps 375 482 XX. The hungry Dogs 376 483 XXI. The aged Lion, the Wild Boar, the Bull, and the Ass 376 483 XXII. The Man and the Weasel 376 483 XXIII. The Faithful Dog 377 484 XXIV. The Frog and the Ox 378 484 XXV. The Dog and the Crocodile 377 485 XXVI. The Fox and the Stork 378 485 XXVII. The Dog, the Treasure, and the Vulture 379 486 XXVIII. The Fox and the Eagle 380 486 XXIX. The Ass deriding the Boar 380 —- XXX. The Frogs frightened at the Battle of the Bulls 380 487 [XXIX] XXXI. The Kite and the Pigeons 381 487 [XXX]


Prologue 382 488 Fable I. The Lion, the Robber, and the Traveller 383 488 II. Two Women of different Ages beloved by the Middle-aged Man 383 489 III. The Man and the Dog 384 489 IV. The Eagle, the Cat, and the Sow 384 490 V. Caesar to the Chamberlain 385 491 VI. The Eagle, the Crow, and the Tortoise 386 492 VII. The Mules and Robbers 387 492 VIII. The Stag and the Oxen 387 493 Epilogue 388 494


Prologue, to Eutychus 390 497 Fable I. The Old Woman and the Cask 393 498 II. The Panther and Shepherd 394 498 III. Esop and the Farmer 395 —- IV. The Butcher and the Ape 395 499 [III] V. Esop and the Insolent Man 395 499 [IV] VI. The Fly and the Mule 396 499 [V] VII. The Dog and the Wolf 397 500 [VI] VIII. The Brother and Sister 398 501 [VII] IX. Socrates to his Friends 398 502 [VIII] X. The Poet on Believing and not Believing 399 502 [IX] [XI. The Eunuch to the Abusive Man 401 —- ] XI. The Cock and the Pearl [XII] 401 504 XII. The Bees and the Drones, the Wasp sitting as judge [XIII] 402 505 XIII. Esop at play [XIV] 402 505 XIV. The Dog to the Lamb [XV] 403 506 XV. The Grasshopper and the Owl [XVI] 404 507 XVI. The Trees under the Protection of the Gods [XVII] 405 508 XVII. The Peacock to Juno [XVIII] 405 509 XVIII. Esop's Answer to the Inquisitive Man [XIX] 406 509 Epilogue 407 —-


Prologue 409 510 Fable I. The Ass and the Priests of Cybele 410 509 [III.XIX in Smart] II. The Weasel and the Mice 411 510 [I] III. The Fox and the Grapes 411 511 [II] IV. The Horse and the Wild Boar 411 511 [III] V. Esop interpreting a Will 412 512 [IV] VI. The Battle of the Mice and the Weasels 413 514 [V] VII. The Poet's Defence against the Censurers of his Fables 414 514 [VI] VIII. The Viper and the File 415 515 [VII] IX. The Fox and the Goat 415 516 [VIII] X. Of the Vices of Men 416 516 [IX] XI. A Thief pillaging the Altar of Jupiter 416 517 [X] XII. Hercules and Plutus 417 517 [XI] XIII. The Lion reigning 417 —- XIV. Prometheus 418 —- XV. The She-Goats and their Beards 418 518 [XII] XVI. The Pilot and the Mariners 419 518 [XIII] XVII. The Embassy of the Dogs to Jupiter 419 —- XVIII. The Man and the Snake 420 519 [XIV] XIX. The Fox and the Dragon 421 519 [XV] XX. Phaedrus 422 520 [XVI] XXI. The Shipwreck of Simonides 422 520 [XVII] XXII. The Mountain in Labour 423 522 [XVIII] XXIII. The Ant and the Fly 424 522 [XIX] XXIV. Simonides preserved by the Gods 425 523 [XX] Epilogue 426 524


Prologue 427 526 Fable I. Demetrius and Menander 427 527 II. The Travellers and the Robber 428 528 III. The Bald Man and the Fly 429 529 IV. The Man and the Ass 429 529 V. The Buffoon and Countryman 429 530 VI. The Two Bald Men 431 532 VII. Princeps the Flute Player 431 532 VIII. The Emblem of Opportunity 433 534 IX. The Bull and the Calf 433 534 X. The Huntsman and the Dog 433 535

THE NEW FABLES—Attributed to Phaedrus.

Fable I. The Ape and the Fox 435 II. The Author 436 III. Mercury and the two Women 436 IV. Prometheus and Cunning 437 V. The Author 438 VI. The signification of the Punishments of Tartarus 438 VII. The Author 439 VIII. Aesop and the Author 439 IX. Pompeius Magnus and his Soldier 440 X. Juno, Venus, and the Hen 441 XI. The Father of a Family and Aesop 442 XII. The Philosopher and the Victor in the Gymnastic Games 442 XIII. The Ass and the Lyre 443 XIV. The Widow and the Soldier 443 XV. The Rich Suitor and the Poor One 444 XVI. Aesop and his Mistress 445 XVII. A Cock carried in a Litter by Cats 446 XVIII. The Sow bringing forth and the Wolf 446 XIX. The Runaway Slave and Aesop 447 XX. The Chariot Horse sold for the Mill 447 XXI. The Hungry Bear 448 XXII. The Traveller and the Raven 449 XXIII. The Shepherd and the She-Goat 449 XXIV. The Serpent and the Lizard 449 XXV. The Crow and the Sheep 450 XXVI. The Servant and the Master 450 XXVII. The Hare and the Herdsman 450 XXVIII. The Young Man and the Courtesan 451 XXIX. The Beaver 451 XXX. The Butterfly and the Wasp 452 XXXI. The Ground-Swallow and the Fox 453 Epilogue 453

AESOPIAN FABLES—The Authors of Which Are Not Known.

Fable I. The Sick Kite 454 II. The Hares tired of Life 454 III. Jupiter and the Fox 455 IV. The Lion and the Mouse 455 V. The Man and the Trees 456 VI. The Mouse and the Frog 456 VII. The Two Cocks and the Hawk 456 VIII. The Snail and the Ape 457 IX. The City Mouse and the Country Mouse 457 X. The Ass fawning upon his Master 458 XI. The Crane, the Crow, and the Countryman 459 XII. The Birds and the Swallow 459 XIII. The Partridge and the Fox 460 XIV. The Ass, the Ox, and the Birds 461 XV. The Lion and the Shepherd 461 XVI. The Goat and the Bull 462 XVII. The Horse and the Ass 462 XVIII. The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat 463 XIX. The Nightingale, the Hawk, and the Fowler 463 XX. The Wolf, the Fox, and the Shepherd 464 XXI. The Sheep and the Wolves 464 XXII. The Ape and the Fox 465 XXIII. The Wolf, the Huntsman, and the Shepherd 465 XXIV. The Truthful Man, the Liar, and the Apes 466 XXV. The Man and the Lion 467 XXVI. The Stork, the Goose, and the Hawk 467 XXVII. The Sheep and the Crow 468 XXVIII. The Ant and the Grasshopper 468 XXIX. The Horse and the Ass 469 XXX. The Old Lion and the Fox 469 XXXI. The Camel and the Flea 469 XXXII. The Kid and the Wolf 470 XXXIII. The Poor Man and the Serpent 470 XXXIV. The Eagle and the Kite 471




The matter which Aesop, the inventor {of Fables}, has provided, I have polished in Iambic verse. The advantages of {this} little work are twofold—that it excites laughter, and by counsel guides the life {of man}. But if any one shall think fit to cavil, because not only wild beasts, but even trees speak, let him remember that we are disporting in fables.



Driven by thirst, a Wolf and a Lamb had come to the same stream; the Wolf stood above, and the Lamb at a distance below. Then, the spoiler, prompted by a ravenous maw, alleged a pretext for a quarrel. "Why," said he, "have you made the water muddy for me {while I am} drinking?" The Fleece-bearer, trembling, {answered}: "Prithee, Wolf, how can I do what you complain of? The water is flowing downwards from you to where I am drinking." The other, disconcerted by the force of truth, {exclaimed}: "Six months ago, you slandered me." "Indeed," answered the Lamb, "I was not born {then}." "By Hercules," said {the Wolf}, "{then 'twas} your father slandered me;" and so, snatching him up, he tore him to pieces, killing him unjustly.

This Fable is applicable to those men who, under false pretences, oppress the innocent.



When Athens[1] was flourishing under just laws, liberty grown wanton embroiled the city, and license relaxed the reins of ancient discipline. Upon this, the partisans of factions conspiring, Pisistratus the Tyrant[2] seized the citadel. When the Athenians were lamenting their sad servitude (not that he was cruel, but because every burden is grievous to those who are unused to it), and began to complain, Aesop related a Fable to the following effect:—

"The Frogs, roaming at large in their marshy fens, with loud clamour demanded of Jupiter a king, who, by {his} authority, might check their dissolute manners. The Father of the Gods smiled, and gave them a little Log, which, on being thrown {among them} startled the timorous race by the noise and sudden commotion in the bog. When it had lain for some time immersed in the mud, one {of them} by chance silently lifted his head above the water, and having taken a peep at the king, called up all the rest. Having got the better of their fears, vying with each other, they swim towards him, and the insolent mob leap upon the Log. After defiling it with every kind of insult, they sent to Jupiter, requesting another king, because the one that had been given them was useless. Upon this, he sent them a Water Snake,[3] who with his sharp teeth began to gobble them up one after another. Helpless they strive in vain to escape death; terror deprives them of voice. By stealth, therefore, they send through Mercury a request to Jupiter, to succour them in their distress. Then said the God in reply: 'Since you would not be content with your good fortune, continue to endure your bad fortune.'"

"Do you also, O fellow-citizens," said {Aesop}, "submit to the present evil, lest a greater one befall you."

[Footnote I.1: When Athens)—Ver. 1. This probably alludes to the government of Solon, when Archon of Athens.]

[Footnote I.2: Pisistratus the Tyrant)—Ver. 5. From Suidas and Eusebius we learn that Aesop died in the fifty-fourth Olympiad, while Pisistratus did not seize the supreme power at Athens till the first year of the fifty-fifth. These dates, however, have been disputed by many, and partly on the strength of the present passage.]

[Footnote I.3: A Water-Snake)—Ver. 24. Pliny tells us that the "hydrus" lives in the water, and is exceedingly venomous. Some Commentators think that Phaedrus, like Aesop, intends to conceal a political meaning under this Fable, and that by the Water-Snake he means Caligula, and by the Log, Tiberius. Others, perhaps with more probability, think that the cruelty of Tiberius alone is alluded to in the mention of the snake. Indeed, it is doubtful whether Phaedrus survived to the time of Caligula: and it is more generally believed that the First and Second Books were written in the time of Augustus and Tiberius.]



That one ought not to plume oneself on the merits which belong to another, but ought rather to pass his life in his own proper guise, Aesop has given us this illustration:—

A Jackdaw, swelling[4] with empty pride, picked up some feathers which had fallen from a Peacock, and decked himself out {therewith}; upon which, despising his own {kind}, he mingled with a beauteous flock of Peacocks. They tore his feathers from off the impudent bird, and put him to flight with their beaks. The Jackdaw, {thus} roughly handled, in grief hastened to return to his own kind; repulsed by whom, he had to submit to sad disgrace. Then said one of those whom he had formerly despised: "If you had been content with our station, and had been ready to put up with what nature had given, you would neither have experienced the former affront, nor would your ill fortune have had to feel {the additional pang} of this repulse."

[Footnote I.4: A Jackdaw, swelling)—Ver. 4. Scheffer thinks that Sejanus is alluded to under this image.]



He who covets what belongs to another, deservedly loses his own.

As a Dog, swimming[5] through a river, was carrying a piece of meat, he saw his own shadow in the watery mirror; and, thinking that it was another booty carried by another {dog}, attempted to snatch it away; but his greediness {was} disappointed, he both dropped the food which he was holding in his mouth, and was after all unable to reach that at which he grasped.

[Footnote I.5: As a Dog swimming)—Ver. 9. Lessing finds some fault with the way in which this Fable is related, and with fair reason. The Dog swimming would be likely to disturb the water to such a degree, that it would be impossible for him to see with any distinctness the reflection of the meat. The version which represents him as crossing a bridge is certainly more consistent with nature.]



An alliance with the powerful is never to be relied upon: the present Fable testifies the truth of my maxim.

A Cow, a She-Goat, and a Sheep[6] patient under injuries, were partners in the forests with a Lion. When they had captured a Stag of vast bulk, thus spoke the Lion, after it had been divided into shares: "Because my name is Lion, I take the first; the second you will yield to me because I am courageous; then, because I am the strongest,[7] the third will fall to my lot; if anyone touches the fourth, woe betide him."

Thus did unscrupulousness seize upon the whole prey for itself.

[Footnote I.6: And a Sheep)—Ver. 3. Lessing also censures this Fable on the ground of the partnership being contrary to nature; neither the cow, the goat, nor the sheep feed on flesh.]

[Footnote I.7: I am the strongest)—Ver. 9. Some critics profess to see no difference between "sum fortis" in the eighth line, and "plus valeo" here; but the former expression appears to refer to his courage, and the latter to his strength. However, the second and third reasons are nothing but reiterations of the first one, under another form. Davidson remarks on this passage: "I am not certain that the Poet meant any distinction; nay, there is, perhaps, a propriety in supposing that he industriously makes the Lion plead twice upon the same title, to represent more strongly by what unjust claims men in power often invade the property of another."]



Aesop, on seeing the pompous wedding of a thief, who was his neighbour, immediately began to relate the following story:

Once on a time, when the Sun was thinking of taking a wife,[8] the Frogs sent forth their clamour to the stars. Disturbed by their croakings, Jupiter asked the cause of their complaints. Then {said} one of the inhabitants of the pool: "As it is, by himself he parches up all the standing waters, and compels us unfortunates to languish and die in {our} scorched abode. What is to become of us, if he beget children?"

[Footnote I.8: Taking a wife)—Ver. 3. It has been suggested by Brotier and Desbillons, that in this Fable Phaedrus covertly alludes to the marriage which was contemplated by Livia, or Livilla, the daughter of the elder Drusus and Antonia, and the wife of her first-cousin, the younger Drusus, with the infamous Sejanus, the minister and favourite of Tiberius, after having, with his assistance, removed her husband by poison. In such case, the Frogs will represent the Roman people, the Sun Sejanus, who had greatly oppressed them, and by Jupiter, Tiberius will be meant.]



A Fox, by chance, casting his eyes on a Tragic Mask: "Ah," said she, "great as is its beauty, still it has no brains."[9]

This is meant for those to whom fortune has granted honor and renown, leaving them void of common sense.

[Footnote I.9: Has no brains)—Ver. 2. To make the sense of this remark of the Fox the more intelligible, we must bear in mind that the ancient masks covered the whole head, and sometimes extended down to the shoulders; consequently, their resemblance to the human head was much more striking than in the masks of the present day.]



He who expects a recompense for his services from the dishonest commits a twofold mistake; first, because he assists the undeserving, and in the next place, because he cannot be gone while he is yet safe.

A bone that he had swallowed stuck in the jaws of a Wolf. Thereupon, overcome by extreme pain, he began to tempt all and sundry by great rewards to extract the cause of misery. At length, on his taking an oath, a Crane was prevailed on, and, trusting the length of her neck to his throat, she wrought, with danger to herself, a cure for the Wolf. When she demanded the promised reward for this {service}, "You are an ungrateful one," replied {the Wolf}, "to have taken your head in safety out of my mouth, and {then} to ask for a reward."



Let us show, in a few lines, that it is unwise to be heedless[10] of ourselves, while we are giving advice to others.

A Sparrow upbraided a Hare that had been pounced upon by an Eagle, and was sending forth piercing cries. "Where now," said he, "is that fleetness for which you are so remarkable? Why were your feet {thus} tardy?" While he was speaking, a Hawk seizes him unawares, and kills him, shrieking aloud with vain complaints. The Hare, almost dead, as a consolation in his agony, {exclaimed}: "You, who so lately, free from care, were ridiculing my misfortunes, have now to deplore your own fate with as woful cause."

[Footnote I.10: To be heedless)—Ver. 1. "Cavere" is a word of legal signification, meaning to give advice to a person by way of assistance or precaution, as a patron to his client.]



Whoever has once become notorious by base fraud, even if he speaks the truth, gains no belief. To this, a short Fable of Aesop bears witness.

A Wolf indicted a Fox upon a charge of theft; the latter denied that she was amenable to the charge. Upon this, the Ape sat as judge between them; and when each of them had pleaded his cause, the Ape is said to have pronounced {this} sentence: "You, {Wolf}, appear not to have lost what you demand; I believe that you, {Fox}, have stolen what you so speciously deny."



A dastard, who in his talk brags of his prowess, and is devoid of courage,[11] imposes upon strangers, but is the jest of all who know him.

A Lion having resolved to hunt in company with an Ass, concealed him in a thicket, and at the same time enjoined him to frighten the wild beasts with his voice, to which they were unused, while he himself was to catch them as they fled. Upon this, Long-ears, with all his might, suddenly raised a cry, and terrified the beasts with {this} new cause of astonishment.[12] While, in their alarm, they are flying to the well-known outlets, they are overpowered by the dread onset of the Lion; who, after he was wearied with slaughter, called forth the Ass {from his retreat}, and bade him cease his clamour. On this the other, in his insolence, {inquired}: "What think you of the assistance given by my voice?" "Excellent!" said {the Lion}, "so much so, that if I had not been acquainted with your spirit and your race, I should have fled in alarm like {the rest}."

[Footnote I.11: Devoid of courage)—Ver. 1. Burmann suggests, with great probability, that Phaedrus had here in mind those braggart warriors, who have been so well described by Plautus and Terence, under the characters of Pyrgopolynices and Thraso.]

[Footnote I.12: This new cause of astonishment)—Ver. 8. Never having heard the voice of an ass in the forests before.]



This story shows that what you contemn is often found of more utility than what you load with praises.

A Stag, when he had drunk at a stream, stood still, and gazed upon his likeness in the water. While there, in admiration, he was praising his branching horns, and finding fault with the extreme thinness of his legs, suddenly roused by the cries of the huntsmen, he took to flight over the plain, and with nimble course escaped the dogs. Then a wood received the beast; in which, being entangled and caught by his horns, the dogs began to tear him to pieces with savage bites. While dying, he is said to have uttered these words: "Oh, how unhappy am I, who now too late find out how useful to me were the things that I despised; and what sorrow the things I used to praise, have caused me."



He who is delighted at being flattered with artful words, {generally} pays the ignominious penalty of a late repentance.

As a Raven, perched in a lofty tree, was about to eat a piece of cheese, stolen from a window,[13] a Fox espied him, {and} thereupon began thus to speak: "O Raven, what a glossiness there is upon those feathers of yours! What grace you carry in your shape and air! If you had a voice, no bird whatever would be superior to you." On this, the other, while, in his folly, attempting to show off his voice, let fall the cheese from his mouth, which the crafty Fox with greedy teeth instantly snatched up. Then, too late, the Raven, thus, in his stupidity overreached, heaved a bitter sigh.

By this story[14] it is shown, how much ingenuity avails, {and} how wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.

[Footnote I.13: From a window)—Ver. 3. Burmann suggests that the window of a house in which articles of food were exposed for sale, is probably meant.]

[Footnote I.14: By this story)—Ver. 13. Heinsius thinks this line and the next to be spurious; because, though Phaedrus sometimes at the beginning mentions the design of his Fable, he seldom does so at the end. In this conjecture he is followed by Bentley, Sanadon, and many others of the learned.]



A bungling Cobbler, broken down by want, having begun to practise physic in a strange place, and selling his antidote[15] under a feigned name, gained some reputation for himself by his delusive speeches.

Upon this, the King of the city, who lay ill, being afflicted with a severe malady, asked for a cup, for the purpose of trying him; and then pouring water into it, and pretending that he was mixing poison with the fellow's antidote, ordered him to drink it off, {in consideration of} a stated reward. Through fear of death, the cobbler then confessed that not by any skill in the medical art, but through the stupidity of the public, he had gained his reputation. The King, having summoned a council, thus remarked: "What think you of the extent of your madness, when you do not hesitate to trust your lives[16] to one to whom no one would trust his feet to be fitted with shoes?"

This, I should say with good reason, is aimed at those through whose folly impudence makes a profit.

[Footnote I.15: Selling his antidote)—Ver. 3. "Antidotum" probably means a universal remedy, capable of curing all natural diseases, as well as neutralizing the effects of poison.]

[Footnote I.16: Trust your lives)—Ver. 15. He seems to pun upon the word "capita," as meaning not only "the life," but "the head," in contradistinction to "the feet," mentioned in the next line. As in l. 2 we find that he came to a place where he was not known, we must suppose that the Cobbler confessed to the King his former calling.]



In a change of government, the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master. That this is the fact this little Fable shows.

A timorous Old Man was feeding an Ass in a meadow. Frightened by a sudden alarm of the enemy, he tried to persuade the Ass to fly, lest they should be taken prisoners. But he leisurely replied: "Pray, do you suppose that the conqueror will place double panniers upon me?" The Old Man said, "No." "Then what matters it to me, so long as I have to carry my panniers, whom I serve?"



When a rogue offers his name as surety in a doubtful case, he has no design to act straight-forwardly, but is looking to mischief.

A Stag asked a Sheep for a measure[17] of wheat, a Wolf being his surety. The other, however, suspecting fraud, {replied}: "The Wolf has always been in the habit of plundering and absconding; you, of rushing out of sight with rapid flight: where am I to look for you both when the day comes?"[18]

[Footnote I.17: For a measure)—Ver. 3. Properly "modius;" the principal dry measure of the Romans. It was equal to one-third of the amphora, and therefore to nearly two gallons English.]

[Footnote I.18: Day comes)—Ver. 6. "Quum dies adveniat," a law term, signifying "when the day of payment comes."]



Liars generally[19] pay the penalty of their guilt.

A Dog, who was a false accuser, having demanded of a Sheep a loaf of bread, which he affirmed he had entrusted to her charge; a Wolf, summoned as a witness, affirmed that not only one was owing but ten. Condemned on false testimony, the Sheep had to pay what she did not owe. A few days after, the Sheep saw the Wolf lying in a pit. "This," said she, "is the reward of villany, sent by the Gods."

[Footnote I.19: Liars generally)—Ver. 1. It is supposed by some that this Fable is levelled against the informers who infested Rome in the days of Tiberius.]



No one returns with good will to the place which has done him a mischief.

Her months completed,[20] a Woman in labour lay upon the ground, uttering woful moans. Her Husband entreated her to lay her body on the bed, where she might with more ease deposit her ripe burden. "I feel far from confident," said she, "that my pains can end in the place where they originated."

[Footnote I.20: Her months completed)—Ver. 2. Plutarch relates this, not as a Fable, but as a true narrative.]



The fair words of a wicked man are fraught with treachery, and the subjoined lines warn us to shun them.

A Bitch, ready to whelp,[21] having entreated another that she might give birth to her offspring in her kennel, easily obtained the favour. Afterwards, on the other asking for her place back again, she renewed her entreaties, earnestly begging for a short time, until she might be enabled to lead forth her whelps when they had gained sufficient strength. This time being also expired, {the other} began more urgently to press for her abode: "If" said {the tenant}, "you can be a match for me and my litter, I will depart from the place."

[Footnote I.21: Ready to whelp)—Ver. 3. Justin, B. I., c. 3, mentions this Fable with some little variation, as being related by a Ligurian to Comanus, the son of King Nannus, who had granted (about B.C. 540) some land to the Phocaeans for the foundation of the city of Massilia; signifying thereby that the natives would be quickly dispossessed by the newcomers.]



An ill-judged project is not only without effect, but also lures mortals to their destruction.

Some Dogs espied a raw hide sunk in a river. In order that they might more easily get it out and devour it, they fell to drinking up the water; they burst, however, and perished before they could reach what they sought.



Whoever has fallen from a previous high estate, is in his calamity the butt even of cowards.

As a Lion, worn out with years, and deserted by his strength, lay drawing his last breath, a Wild Boar came up to him, with flashing tusks,[22] and with a blow revenged an old affront. Next, with hostile horns, a Bull pierced the body of his foe. An Ass, on seeing the wild beast maltreated with impunity, tore up his forehead with his heels. On this, expiring, he {said}: "I have borne, with indignation, the insults of the brave; but in being inevitably forced to bear with you, disgrace to nature! I seem to die a double death."

[Footnote I.22: With flashing tusks)—Ver. 5. "Fulmineus," "lightning-like," is an epithet given by Ovid and Statius also, to the tusks of the wild boar; probably by reason of their sharpness and the impetuosity of the blow inflicted thereby. Scheffer suggests that they were so called from their white appearance among the black hair of the boar's head.]



A Weasel, on being caught by a Man, wishing to escape impending death: "Pray," said she, "do spare me, for 'tis I who keep your house clear of troublesome mice." The Man made answer: "If you did so for my sake, it would be a reason for thanking you, {and} I should have granted you the pardon you entreat. But, inasmuch as you do your best that you may enjoy the scraps which they would have gnawed, and devour the mice as well, don't think of placing your pretended services to my account;" and so saying, he put the wicked {creature} to death.

Those persons ought to recognize this as applicable to themselves, whose object is private advantage, and who boast to the unthinking of an unreal merit.



The man who becomes liberal all of a sudden, gratifies the foolish, but for the wary spreads his toils in vain.

A Thief one night threw a crust of bread to a Dog, to try whether he could be gained by the proffered victuals: "Hark you," said the Dog, "do you think to stop my tongue so that I may not bark for my master's property? You are greatly mistaken. For this sudden liberality bids me be on the watch, that you may not profit by my neglect."



The needy man, while affecting to imitate the powerful, comes to ruin.

Once on a time, a Frog espied an Ox in a meadow, and moved with envy at his vast bulk, puffed out her wrinkled skin, {and} then asked her young ones whether she was bigger than the Ox. They said "No." Again, with still greater efforts, she distended her skin, and in like manner enquired which was the bigger:[23] they said: "The Ox." At last, while, full of indignation, she tried, with all her might, to puff herself out, she burst her body on the spot.

[Footnote I.23: Which was the bigger)—Ver. 8. "Quis major esset. Illi dixerunt Bovem." Bentley censures this line, and thinks it spurious. In good Latin, he says "uter" would occupy the place of "quis," and "bovem" would be replaced by "bos."]



Those who give bad advice to discreet persons, both lose their pains, and are laughed to scorn.

It has been related,[24] that Dogs drink at the river Nile running along, that they may not be seized by the Crocodiles. Accordingly, a Dog having begun to drink while running along, a Crocodile thus addressed him: "Lap as leisurely as you like; drink on; come nearer, and don't be afraid," said he. The other {replied}: "Egad, I would do so with all my heart, did I not know that you are eager for my flesh."

[Footnote I.24: It has been related)—Ver. 3. Pliny, in his Natural History, B. viii. c. 40, and Aelian, in his Various and Natural Histories, relate the same fact as to the dogs drinking of the Nile. "To treat a thing, as the dogs do the Nile," was a common proverb with the ancients, signifying to do it superficially; corresponding with our homely saying, "To give it a lick and a promise." Macrobius, in the Saturnalia, B. i. c. 2, mentions a story, that after the defeat at Mutina, when enquiry was made as to what had become of Antony, one of his servants made answer: "He has done what the dogs do in Egypt, he drank and ran away."



Harm should be done to no man; but if any one do an injury, this Fable shows that he may be visited with a like return.

A Fox is said to have given a Stork the first invitation to a banquet, and to have placed before her some thin broth in a flat dish, of which the hungry Stork could in no way get a taste. Having invited the Fox in return, she set {before him} a narrow-mouthed jar,[25] full of minced meat:[26] and, thrusting her beak into it, satisfied herself, {while} she tormented her guest with hunger; who, after having in vain licked the neck of the jar, as we have heard, thus addressed the foreign bird:[27] "Every one is bound to bear patiently the results of his own example."

[Footnote I.25: Of minced meat)—Ver. 7. "Intritus cibus," is thought here to signify a peculiar dish, consisting of bread soaked in milk, cheese, garlic, and other herbs.]

[Footnote I.26: Narrow-mouthed jar)—Ver. 8. The "lagena," or "lagona," was a long-necked bottle or flagon, made of earth, and much used for keeping wine or fruit.]

[Footnote I.27: The foreign bird)—Ver. 11. Alluding probably to the migratory habits of the stork, or the fact of her being especially a native of Egypt.]



This Fable may be applied to the avaricious, and to those, who, born to a humble lot, affect to be called rich.

Grubbing up human bones,[28] a Dog met with a Treasure; and, because he had offended the Gods the Manes,[29] a desire for riches was inspired in him, that so he might pay the penalty {due} to the holy character of the place. Accordingly, while he was watching over the gold, forgetful of food, he was starved to death; on which a Vulture, standing over him, is reported to have said: "O Dog, you justly meet your death, who, begotten at a cross-road, and bred up on a dunghill, have suddenly coveted regal wealth."

[Footnote I.28: Human bones)—Ver. 3. This plainly refers to the custom which prevailed among the ancients, of burying golden ornaments, and even money, with the dead; which at length was practised to such an excess, that at Rome the custom was forbidden by law. It was probably practised to a great extent by the people of Etruria; if we may judge from the discoveries of golden ornaments frequently made in their tombs.]

[Footnote I.29: Gods the Manes)—Ver. 4. Perhaps by "Deos Manes" are meant the good and bad Genii of the deceased.]



Men, however high in station, ought to be on their guard against the lowly; because, to ready address, revenge lies near at hand.

An Eagle one day carried off the whelps of a Fox, and placed them in {her} nest before her young ones, for them to tear in pieces as food. The mother, following her, began to entreat that she would not cause such sorrow to her miserable {suppliant}. The other despised her, as being safe in the very situation of the spot. The Fox snatched from an altar a burning torch, and surrounded the whole tree with flames, intending to mingle anguish to her foe with the loss of her offspring. The Eagle, that she might rescue her young ones from the peril of death, in a suppliant manner restored to the Fox her whelps in safety.



Fools often, while trying to raise a silly laugh, provoke others by gross affronts, and cause serious danger to themselves.

An Ass meeting a Boar: "Good morrow to you, brother," says he. The other indignantly rejects the salutation, and enquires why he thinks proper to utter such an untruth. The Ass, with legs[30] crouching down, replies: "If you deny that you are like me, at all events I have something very like your snout." The Boar, just on the point of making a fierce attack, suppressed his rage, and {said}: "Revenge were easy for me, but I decline to be defiled with {such} dastardly blood."

[Footnote I.30: The ass, with legs)—Ver. 7. This line is somewhat modified in the translation.]



When the powerful[31] are at variance, the lowly are the sufferers.

A Frog, viewing from a marsh, a combat of some Bulls: "Alas!" said she, "what terrible destruction is threatening us." Being asked by another why she said so, as the Bulls were contending for the sovereignty of the herd, and passed their lives afar from them: "Their habitation is at a distance," {said she}, "and they are of a different kind; still, he who {is} expelled from the sovereignty of the meadow, will take to flight, {and} come to the secret hiding-places in the fens, and trample and crush us with his hard hoof. Thus does their fury concern our safety."

[Footnote I.31: When the powerful)—Ver. 1. This is similar to the line of Horace, "Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi."]



He who entrusts himself to the protection of a wicked man, while he seeks assistance, meets with destruction.

Some Pigeons, having often escaped from a Kite, and by their swiftness of wing avoided death, the spoiler had recourse to stratagem, and by a crafty device of this nature, deceived the harmless race. "Why do you prefer to live a life of anxiety, rather than conclude a treaty, and make me {your} king, who can ensure your safety from every injury?" They, putting confidence in him, entrusted themselves to the Kite, who, on obtaining the sovereignty, began to devour them one by one, and to exercise authority with his cruel talons. Then said one of those that were left: "Deservedly are we smitten."



The plan of Aesop is confined to instruction by examples; nor by Fables is anything else[1] aimed at than that the errors of mortals may be corrected, and persevering industry[2] exert itself. Whatever the playful invention, therefore, of the narrator, so long as it pleases the ear, and answers its purpose, it is recommended by its merits, not by the Author's name.

For my part, I will with all care follow the method of the sage;[3] but if I should think fit to insert something[4] {of my own}, that variety of subjects may gratify the taste, I trust, Reader, you will take it in good part; provided that my brevity be a fair return for such a favour: of which, that {my} praises may not be verbose, listen to the reason why you ought to deny the covetous, {and} even to offer to the modest that for which they have not asked.

[Footnote II.1: Is anything else)—Ver. 2. Burmann thinks that the object of the Author in this Prologue is to defend himself against the censures of those who might blame him for not keeping to his purpose, mentioned in the Prologue of the First Book, of adhering to the fabulous matter used by Aesop, but mixing up with such stories narratives of events that had happened in his own time.]

[Footnote II.2: Persevering industry)—Ver. 5. "Diligens industria." An industry or ingenuity that exerts itself in trying to discover the meaning of his Fables.]

[Footnote II.3: Of the sage)—Ver. 8. Meaning Aesop.]

[Footnote II.4: To insert something)—Ver. 9. He probably alludes to such contemporary narratives as are found in Fable v. of the present Book; in Fable x. of the Third; in B. IV., Fables v., xxi., xxiv.; and B. V., Fables i., v., vii.]



While a Lion was standing over a Bullock, which he had brought to the ground, a Robber came up, and demanded a share. "I would give it you," said {the Lion}, "were you not in the habit of taking without leave;" and {so} repulsed the rogue. By chance, a harmless Traveller was led to the same spot, and on seeing the wild beast, retraced his steps; on which the Lion kindly said to him: "You have nothing to fear; boldly take the share which is due to your modesty." Then having divided the carcase, he sought the woods, that he might make room for the Man.

A very excellent example, and worthy of all praise; but covetousness is rich and modesty in want.[5]

[Footnote II.5: Modesty in want)—Ver. 12. Martial has a similar passage, B. iv., Epig. 9:—

"Semper eris pauper, si pauper es, Aemiliane, Dantur opes nulli nunc nisi divitibus."]



That the men, under all circumstances, are preyed upon by the women, whether they love or are beloved, {this} truly we learn from examples.

A Woman, not devoid of grace, held enthralled a certain Man of middle age,[6] concealing her years by the arts of the toilet: a lovely Young creature, too, had captivated the heart of the same person. Both, as they were desirous to appear of the same age with him, began, each in her turn, to pluck out the hair of the Man. While he imagined that he was made trim by the care of the women, he suddenly found himself bald; for the Young Woman had entirely pulled out the white hairs, the Old Woman the black ones.

[Footnote II.6: Of middle age)—Ver 8. It has been a matter of doubt among Commentators to which "aetatis mediae" applies—the man or the woman. But as she is called "anus," "an Old Woman," in the last line, it is most probable that the man is meant.]



A Man, torn by the bite of a savage Dog, threw a piece of bread, dipt in his blood, to the offender; a thing that he had heard was a remedy for the wound. Then said Aesop: "Don't do this before many dogs, lest they devour us alive, when they know that such is the reward of guilt."

The success of the wicked is a temptation to many.



An Eagle had made her nest at the top of an oak; a Cat who had found a hole in the middle, had kittened {there}; a Sow, a dweller in the woods, had laid her offspring at the bottom. Then thus does the Cat with deceit and wicked malice, destroy the community so formed by accident. She mounts up to the nest of the Bird: "Destruction," says she, "is preparing for you, perhaps, too, for wretched me; for as you see, the Sow, digging up the earth every day, is insidiously trying to overthrow the oak, that she may easily seize our progeny on the ground." Having {thus} spread terror, and bewildered {the Eagle's} senses, the Cat creeps down to the lair of the bristly Sow: "In great danger," says she, "are your offspring; for as soon as you go out to forage with your young litter, the Eagle is ready to snatch away from you your little pigs." Having filled this place likewise with alarm, she cunningly hides herself in her safe hole. Thence she wanders forth on tiptoe by night, and having filled herself and her offspring with food, she looks out all day long, pretending alarm. Fearing the downfall, the Eagle sits still in the branches; to avoid the attack of the spoiler, the Sow stirs not abroad. Why make a long story? They perished through hunger, with their young ones, and afforded the Cat and her kittens an ample repast.

Silly credulity may take this as a proof how much evil a double-tongued man may often contrive.



There is a certain set of busybodies at Rome, hurriedly running to and fro, busily engaged in idleness, out of breath about nothing at all, with much ado doing nothing, a trouble to themselves, and most annoying to others. It is my object, by a true story, to reform this race, if indeed I can: it is worth your while to attend.

Tiberius Caesar, when on his way to Naples, came to his country-seat at Misenum,[7] which, placed by the hand of Lucullus on the summit of the heights, beholds the Sicilian sea in the distance, and that of Etruria close at hand. One of the highly girt Chamberlains,[8] whose tunic of Pelusian linen was nicely smoothed from his shoulders downwards, with hanging fringes, while his master was walking through the pleasant shrubberies, began with bustling officiousness to sprinkle[9] the parched ground with a wooden watering-pot; but {only} got laughed at. Thence, by short cuts {to him} well known, he runs before into another walk,[10] laying the dust. Caesar takes notice of the fellow, and discerns his object. Just as he is supposing that there is some extraordinary good fortune in store for him: "Come hither," says his master; on which he skips up to him, quickened by the joyous hope of a sure reward. Then, in a jesting tone, thus spoke the mighty majesty of the prince: "You have not profited much; your labour is all in vain; manumission stands at a much higher price with me."[11]

[Footnote II.7: Country-seat at Misenum)—Ver. 8. This villa was situate on Cape Misenum, a promontory of Campania, near Baiae and Cumae, so called from Misenus, the trumpeter of Aeneas, who was said to have been buried there. The villa was originally built by C. Marius, and was bought by Cornelia, and then by Lucullus, who either rebuilt it or added extensively to it.]

[Footnote II.8: Of the chamberlains)—Ver. 11. The "atrienses" were a superior class of the domestic slaves. It was their duty to take charge of the "atrium," or hall; to escort visitors or clients, and to explain to strangers all matters connected with the pictures, statues, and other decorations of the house.]

[Footnote II.9: To sprinkle)—Ver. 16. Burmann suggests that this duty did not belong to the "atriensis," who would consequently think that his courteous politeness would on that account be still more pleasing to the Emperor.]

[Footnote II.10: Another walk)—Ver. 18. The "xystus" was a level piece of ground, in front of a portico, divided into flower-beds of various shapes by borders of box.]

[Footnote II.11: Much higher price)—Ver. 25. He alludes to the Roman mode of manumission, or setting the slaves at liberty. Before the master presented the slave to the Quaestor, to have the "vindicta," or lictor's rod, laid on him, he turned him round and gave him a blow on the face. In the word "veneunt," "sell," there is a reference to the purchase of their liberty by the slaves, which was often effected by means of their "peculium," or savings.]



No one is sufficiently armed against the powerful; but if a wicked adviser joins them, nothing can withstand such a combination of violence and unscrupulousness.[12]

An Eagle carried a Tortoise aloft, who had hidden her body in her horny abode, and in her concealment could not, while thus sheltered, be injured in any way. A Crow came through the air, and flying near, exclaimed: "You really have carried off a rich prize in your talons; but if I don't instruct you what you must do, in vain will you tire yourself with the heavy weight." A share being promised her, she persuades the Eagle to dash the hard shell from the lofty stars upon a rock, that, it being broken to pieces, she may easily feed upon the meat. Induced by her words, the Eagle attends to her suggestion, and at the same time gives a large share of the banquet to her instructress.

Thus she who had been protected by the bounty of nature, being an unequal match for the two, perished by an unhappy fate.

[Footnote II.12: Literally: Whatever violence and unscrupulousness attack, comes.]



Laden with burdens, two Mules were travelling along; the one was carrying baskets[13] with money, the other sacks distended with store of barley. The former, rich with his burden, goes exulting along, with neck erect, and tossing to-and-fro upon his throat {his} clear-toned bell:[14] his companion follows, with quiet and easy step. Suddenly some Robbers rush from ambush upon them, and amid the slaughter[15] pierce the Mule with a sword, and carry off the money; the valueless barley they neglect. While, then, the one despoiled was bewailing their mishaps: "For my part," says the other, "I am glad I was thought so little of; for I have lost nothing, nor have I received hurt by a wound."

According to the moral of this Fable, poverty is safe; great riches are liable to danger.

[Footnote II.13: Carrying baskets)—Ver. 2. "Fisci" were baskets made of twigs, or panniers, in which the Romans kept and carried about sums of money. Being used especially in the Roman treasury, the word in time came to signify the money itself. Hence our word "fiscal."]

[Footnote II.14: Clear-toned bell)—Ver. 5. Scheffer and Gronovius think that the bell was used, as in some countries at the present day, for the purpose of warning those who came in an opposite direction to make room where the path was narrow.]

[Footnote II.15: Amid the slaughter)—Ver. 8. He alludes no doubt to the murder of the men conducting the mules by the Robbers.]



A Stag, aroused from his woodland lair, to avoid impending death threatened by huntsmen, repaired with blind fear to the nearest farm-house, and hid himself in an ox-stall close at hand. Upon this, an Ox said to him, as he concealed himself: "Why, what do you mean, unhappy one, in thus rushing of your own accord upon destruction, and trusting your life to the abode of man?" To this he suppliantly replied: "Do you only spare me; the moment an opportunity is given I will again rush forth." Night in her turn takes the place of day; the Neat-herd brings fodder, but yet sees him not. All the farm servants pass and repass every now and then; no one perceives him; even the Steward passes by, nor does he observe anything. Upon this, the stag, in his joy, began to return thanks to the Oxen who had kept so still, because they had afforded him hospitality in the hour of adversity. One of them made answer: "We really do wish you well; but if he, who has a hundred eyes, should come, your life will be placed in great peril." In the meanwhile the Master himself comes back from dinner; and having lately seen the Oxen in bad condition, comes up to the rack: "Why," says he, "is there so little fodder? Is litter scarce? What great trouble is it to remove those spiders' webs?"[16] While he is prying into every corner, he perceives too the branching horns of the Stag, and having summoned the household, he orders him to be killed, and carries off the prize.

This Fable signifies that the master sees better than any one else in his own affairs.

[Footnote II.16: Those spiders' webs)—Ver. 23. The mode of clearing away the spider webs may be seen described in the beginning of the "Stichus" of Plautus.]


The Athenians erected a statue to the genius of Aesop, and placed him, though a slave, upon an everlasting pedestal, that all might know that the way to fame is open to all, and that glory is not awarded to birth but to merit. Since another[17] has prevented me from being the first, I have made it my object, a thing which still lay in my power, that he should not be the only one. Nor is this envy, but emulation; and if Latium shall favour my efforts, she will have still more {authors} whom she may match with Greece. {But} if jealousy shall attempt to detract from my labours, still it shall not deprive me of the consciousness of deserving praise. If my attempts reach your ears, and {your} taste relishes {these} Fables, as being composed with skill, {my} success {then} banishes every complaint. But if, on the contrary, my learned labours fall into the hands of those whom a perverse nature has brought to the light of day, and {who} are unable to do anything except carp at their betters, I shall endure my unhappy destiny[18] with strength of mind, until Fortune is ashamed of her own injustice.

[Footnote II.17: Since another)—Ver. 5. He probably refers to Aesop: though Heinsius thinks that he refers to C. Mecaenas Melissus, mentioned by Ovid, in his Pontic Epistles, B. iv., El. xvi., l. 30, a freedman of Mecaenas, who compiled a book of jests partly from the works of Aesop. Burmann, however, ridicules this supposition.]

[Footnote II.18: Unhappy destiny)—Ver. 17. The words "fatale exitium" have been considered as being here inappropriately used. It is very doubtful whether the last part of this Epilogue is genuine.]




If you have a desire, Eutychus, to read the little books of Phaedrus, you must keep yourself disengaged from business, that your mind, at liberty, may relish the meaning of the lines. "But," you say, "my genius is not of such great value, that a moment of time should be lost {for it} to my own pursuits." There is no reason then why that should be touched by your hands which is not suited for ears so engaged. Perhaps you will say, "some holidays will come,[2] which will invite me to study with mind unbent." Will you {rather}, I ask you, read worthless ditties,[3] than bestow attention upon your domestic concerns, give moments to your friends, your leisure to your wife, relax your mind, and refresh your body, in order that you may return more efficiently to your wonted duties? You must change your purpose and your mode of life, if you have thoughts of crossing the threshold of the Muses. I, whom my mother brought forth on the Pierian hill,[4] upon which hallowed Mnemosyne, nine times fruitful, bore the choir of Muses to thundering Jove: although I was born almost in the very school itself, and have entirely erased {all} care for acquiring wealth from my breast, and with the approval of many have applied myself to these pursuits, am still with difficulty received into the choir {of the Poets}. What do you imagine must be the lot of him who seeks, with ceaseless vigilance, to amass great wealth, preferring the sweets of gain to the labours of learning?

But now, come of it what may (as Sinon said[5] when he was brought before the King of Dardania), I will trace a third book with the pen of Aesop, and dedicate it to you, in acknowledgment of your honor and your goodness.[6] If you read it, I shall rejoice; but if otherwise, at least posterity will have something with which to amuse themselves.

Now will I explain in a few words why Fabulous narrative was invented. Slavery,[7] subject to the will of another, because it did not dare to say what it wished, couched its sentiments in Fables, and by pleasing fictions eluded censure. In place of its foot-path I have made a road, and have invented more than it left, selecting some points to my own misfortune.[8] But if any other than Sejanus[9] had been the informer, if any other the witness, if any other the judge, in fine, I should confess myself deserving of such severe woes; nor should I soothe my sorrow with these expedients. If any one shall make erroneous surmises, and apply to himself what is applicable to all in common, he will absurdly expose the secret convictions of his mind. And still, to him I would hold myself excused; for it is no intention of mine to point at individuals, but to describe life itself and the manners of mankind. Perhaps some one will say, that I undertake a weighty task. If Aesop of Phrygia, if Anacharsis of Scythia[10] could, by their genius, found a lasting fame, why should I who am more nearly related to learned Greece, forsake in sluggish indolence the glories of my country? especially as the Thracian race numbers its own authors, and Apollo was the parent of Linus, a Muse of Orpheus, who with his song moved rocks and tamed wild beasts, and held the current of Hebrus in sweet suspense. Away then, envy! nor lament in vain, because to me the customary fame is due.

I have urged you to read {these lines}; I beg that you will give me your sincere opinion[11] of them with {your} well-known candour.

[Footnote III.1: Eutychus)—Ver. 2. It is not known with certainty who this Eutychus was to whom he addresses himself. It has been suggested that he is the same person who is mentioned by Josephus, Antiq. B. xix., c. 4, as flourishing at the Court of Caligula, and who had previously been a charioteer and inspector of buildings at the stables of Claudius. He is also supposed, from the words of the Epilogue of this Book, line 20-26, to have held more than one public office. It has been suggested that he was the freedman of the Emperor Claudius or Augustus, an inscription having been found in the tomb of the freedmen of the latter to C. Julius Eutychus. But it is hardly probable that he is the person meant; as there is little doubt that Phaedrus wrote the present Book of Fables long after the time of Augustus. Indeed it has been suggested by some that he wrote it as late as the reign of Caligula.]

[Footnote III.2: Some holidays)—Ver. 8. The Romans had three kinds of public "feriae," or holidays, which all belonged to the "dies nefasti," or days on which no public business could be done. These were the "feriae stativae," "conceptivae," and "imperativae." The first were held regularly, and on stated days set forth in the Calendar. To these belonged the Lupercalia, Carmentalia, and Agonalia. The "conceptivae," or "conceptae," were moveable feasts held at certain seasons in every year, but not on fixed days; the times for holding them being annually appointed by the magistrates or priests. Among these were the "feriae Latinae," Sementivae, Paganalia, and Compitalia. The "feriae imperativae" were appointed to be held on certain emergencies by order of the Consuls, Praetors, and Dictators; and were in general held to avert national calamities or to celebrate great victories.]

[Footnote III.3: Worthless ditties)—Ver. 10. "Naenia" were, properly, the improvised songs that were sung at funerals by the hired mourners, who were generally females. From their trivial nature, the word came to be generally applied to all worthless ditties, and under this name Phaedrus, with all humility, alludes to his Fables.]

[Footnote III.4: On the Pierian Hill)—Ver. 17. Judging from this passage it would appear that Phaedrus was a Macedonian by birth, and not, as more generally stated, a Thracian. Pieria was a country on the south-east coast of Macedonia, through which ran a ridge of mountains, a part of which were called Pieria, or the Pierian mountain. The inhabitants are celebrated in the early history of the music and poesy of Greece, as their country was one of the earliest seats of the worship of the Muses, and Orpheus was said to have been buried there. It is most probable that Phaedrus was carried away in slavery to Rome in his early years, and that he remembered but little of his native country.]

[Footnote III.5: As Sinon said)—Ver. 27. He here alludes to the words of Sinon, the Grecian spy, when brought before Priam, in the Second Book of Virgil, 77-78:—

"Cuncta equidem tibi, rex, fuerit quodcumque fatebor Vera, inquit——"

Others, again, suppose that this was a proverbial expression in general use at Rome. It is not improbable that it may have become so on being adopted from the work of Virgil: "Come what may of it, as Sinon said."]

[Footnote III.6: And your goodness)—Ver. 30. "Honori et meritis dedicam illum tuis." We learn from ancient inscriptions that this was a customary formula in dedications.]

[Footnote III.7: Slavery)—Ver. 34. He probably alludes to Aesop's state of slavery, in the service of the philosopher Xanthus.]

[Footnote III.8: To my own misfortune)—Ver. 40. He evidently alludes to some misfortune which has befallen him in consequence of having alluded in his work to the events of his own times. It has been suggested that he fell under the displeasure of Tiberius and his minister Sejanus, in consequence of the covert allusions made to them in Fables II and VI in the First Book. This question is, however, involved in impenetrable obscurity.]

[Footnote III.9: Than Sejanus)—Ver. 41. He means that Aelius Sejanus had acted against him as both informer, witness, and judge; but that had an honest man condemned him to the sufferings he then experienced, he should not have complained. The nature of the punishment here alluded to is not known.]

[Footnote III.10: Anacharsis of Scythia)—Ver. 52. A Scythian philosopher, and supposed contemporary of Aesop. He came to Athens in pursuit of knowledge while Solon was the lawgiver of that city. He is said to have written works on legislation and the art of war.]



An Old Woman espied a Cask,[12] which had been drained to the dregs, lying on the ground, {and} which still spread forth from its ennobled shell a delightful smell of the Falernian lees.[13] After she had greedily snuffed it up her nostrils with all her might; "O delicious fragrance,[14]" said she, "how good I should say were your former contents, when the remains of them are such!"

What this refers to let him say who knows me.[15]

[Footnote III.11: Nearer to learned Greece)—Ver. 54. Alluding to Pieria, the place of his birth. The people of Pieria were supposed to have been of Thracian origin.]

[Footnote III.12: A cask)—Ver. 1. "Amphoram." Properly, the "amphora," or earthen vessel with two handles, in which wine was usually kept.]

[Footnote III.13: Falernian Lees)—Ver. 2. The Falernian wine held the second rank in estimation among the Romans. The territory where it was grown commenced at the "Pons Campanus," and extended from the Massic Hills to the river Vulturnus. Pliny mentions three kinds, the rough, the sweet, and the thin. It is supposed to have been of an amber colour, and of considerable strength. It was the custom to write the age of the wine and the vintage on the "amphora," or cask.]

[Footnote III.14: O, delicious fragrance)—Ver. 5. "Anima," most probably applies to the savour or smell of the wine; though some Commentators have thought that she addresses the cask as "anima," meaning "O dear soul;" others, that she speaks of the wine as being the soul of life; while Walchius seems to think that she is addressing her own soul, which is quite cheered by the fumes.]

[Footnote III.15: Who knows me)—Ver. 7. Burmann thinks that the author covertly hints here at the habits of the Emperor Tiberius in his old age, who still hankered after those vicious indulgences which had been his main pursuits in his former days; or else that the Poet simply refers to human life, in the same spirit in which Seneca, Ep. lvii., calls old age, "faex vitae," "the lees of life." Others again suppose that Phaedrus alludes to his own old age, and means that those who knew him when this Fable was written, may judge from their present acquaintance with him what he must have been in his younger days. Heinsius thinks that it refers to the present state of servitude of Phaedrus, compared with his former liberty; but, if he was manumitted, as generally supposed, by Augustus, and this Fable was not written till after the death of Sejanus, that cannot be the case.]



Repayment in kind is generally made by those who are despised.

A Panther[16] had once inadvertently fallen into a pit. The rustics saw her; some belaboured her with sticks, others pelted her with stones; while some, on the other hand, moved with compassion, seeing that she must die even though no one should hurt her, threw her some bread to sustain existence. Night comes on apace; homeward they go without concern, making sure of finding her dead on the following day. She, however, after having recruited her failing strength, with a swift bound effected her escape from the pit, and with hurried pace hastened to her den. A few days intervening, she sallies forth, slaughters the flocks, kills the shepherds themselves, and laying waste every side, rages with unbridled fury. Upon this those who had shown mercy to the beast, alarmed for their safety, made no demur to the loss {of their flocks, and} begged only for their lives. But she {thus answered them}: "I remember him who attacked me with stones, {and} him who gave me bread; lay aside your fears; I return as an enemy to those {only} who injured me."

[Footnote III.16: A Panther)—Ver. 2. Some have suggested, Burmann and Guyetus in the number, that by the Panther is meant Tiberius, who, during his banishment to the isle of Rhodes, occupied himself in studying how to wreak his vengeance upon his enemies at Rome, and, with the fury of the Panther, as soon as he had the opportunity, glutted his vengeance. This notion, however, seems more ingenious than well founded.]



One taught by experience is proverbially said to be more quick-{witted} than a wizard, but the reason is not told; which, now for the first time, shall be made known by my Fable.

The ewes of a certain Man who reared flocks, brought forth lambs with human heads. Dreadfully alarmed at the prodigy, he runs full of concern to the soothsayers. One answers that it bears reference to the life of the owner, and that the danger must be averted with a victim. Another, no wiser, affirms that it is meant that his wife is an adultress, and his children are spurious; but that it can be atoned for by a victim of greater age.[17] Why enlarge? They all differ in opinions, and greatly aggravate the anxiety of the Man. Aesop being at hand, a sage of nice discernment, whom nature could never deceive {by appearances}, remarked:— "If you wish, Farmer, to take due precautions against {this} portent, find wives for your shepherds."[18]

[Footnote III.17: Of greater age)—Ver. 11. "Majori hostia;" probably, a sheep of two years old instead of a lamb.]

[Footnote III.18: For your shepherds)—Ver. 17. Plutarch introduces Thales in his "Convivium Sapientium," as telling a somewhat similar story. Phaedrus might, with better grace, have omitted this so-called Fable.]



A man seeing an Ape hanging up at a Butcher's among the rest of his commodities and provisions, enquired how it might taste;[19] on which the Butcher, joking, replied: "Just as the head is, such, I warrant, is the taste."

[Footnote III.19: How it might taste)—Ver. 3. The Butcher puns upon the twofold meaning of "sapio," "to taste of," or "have a flavour," and "to be wise." The customer uses the word in the former sense, while the Butcher answers it in the latter, and perhaps in the former as well; "Such as the head is," pointing to it, "I'll warrant the wisdom of the animal to be;" the words at the same time bearing the meaning of, "It has an ape's head, and therefore it can only taste like the head of an ape." "Sapor" ordinarily means "flavour," or "taste;" but Cicero uses it in the signification of wisdom or genius. Many other significations of this passage have been suggested by the various Editors.]

This I deem to be said more facetiously than correctly; for on the one hand I have often found the good-looking to be very knaves, and on the other I have known many with ugly features to be most worthy men.



Success leads many astray to their ruin.

An Insolent Fellow threw a stone at Aesop. "Well done," said he, and then gave him a penny, thus continuing: "Upon my faith I have got no more, but I will show you where you can get some; see, yonder comes a rich and influential man; throw a stone at him in the same way, and you will receive a due reward." The other, being persuaded, did as he was advised. His daring impudence, however, was disappointed of its hope, for, being seized, he paid the penalty on the cross.[20]

[Footnote III.20: On the cross)—Ver. 10. The cross was especially used as an instrument of punishment for malefactors of low station, and, as we see here, sometimes on very trivial occasions.]



A Fly sat on the pole of a chariot, and rebuking the Mule: "How slow you are," said she; "will you not go faster? Take care that I don't prick your neck with my sting." The Mule made answer: "I am not moved by your words, but I fear him who, sitting on the next seat, guides my yoke[21] with his pliant whip, and governs my mouth with the foam-covered reins. Therefore, cease your frivolous impertinence, for I well know when to go at a gentle pace, and when to run."

In this Fable, he may be deservedly ridiculed, who, without {any} strength, gives utterance to vain threats.

[Footnote III.21: Guides my yoke)—Ver. 6. "Jugum meum;" meaning, "me who bear the yoke."]



I will shew in a few words how sweet is Liberty.

A Wolf, quite starved with hunger, chanced to meet a well-fed Dog, and as they stopped to salute each other, "Pray," {said the Wolf}, "how is it that you are so sleek? or on what food have you made so much flesh? I, who am far stronger, am perishing with hunger." The Dog frankly {replied}: "You may enjoy the same condition, if you can render the like service to your master." "What {is it}?" said the other. "To be the guardian of his threshold, {and} to protect the house from thieves at night." "I am quite ready for that," {said the Wolf}; "at present I have to endure snow and showers, dragging on a wretched existence in the woods. How much more pleasant for me to be living under a roof, and, at my ease, to be stuffed with plenty of victuals." "Come along, then, with me," {said the Dog}. As they were going along, the Wolf observed the neck of the Dog, where it was worn with the chain. "Whence comes this, my friend?" "Oh, it is nothing.[22]" "Do tell me, though." "Because I appear to be fierce, they fasten me up in the day-time, that I may be quiet when it is light, and watch when night comes; unchained at midnight, I wander wherever I please. Bread is brought me without my asking; from his own table my master gives me bones; the servants throw me bits, and whatever dainties each person leaves; thus, without trouble {on my part}, is my belly filled." "Well, if you have a mind to go anywhere, are you at liberty?" "Certainly not," replied {the Dog}. "{Then}, Dog, enjoy what you boast of; I would not be a king, to lose my liberty."

[Footnote III.22: It is nothing)—Ver. 17. "Nihil est." This was a form of expression used when they wished to cut short any disagreable question, to which they did not think fit to give a direct answer.]



Warned by this lesson, often examine yourself.

A certain Man had a very ugly Daughter, and also a Son, remarkable for his handsome features. These, diverting themselves, as children do, chanced to look into a mirror, as it lay upon their mother's chair.[23] He praises his own good looks; she is vexed, and cannot endure the raillery of her boasting brother, construing everything (and how could she do otherwise?) as a reproach {against herself}. Accordingly, off she runs to her Father, to be avenged {on him} in her turn, and with great rancour, makes a charge against the Son, how that he, though a male, has been meddling with a thing that belongs to the women. Embracing them both, kissing them, and dividing his tender affection between the two, he said: "I wish you both to use the mirror every day: you, that you may not spoil your beauty by vicious conduct; you, that you may make amends by your virtues for your looks."

[Footnote III.23: Their mother's chair)—Ver. 4. The "cathedra" was properly a soft or easy chair used in the "gynaecaea," or women's apartments. These were of various forms and sizes, and had backs to them; it was considered effeminate for the male sex to use them. "Sellae" was the name of seats common to both sexes. The use of the "speculum," or mirror, was also confined to the female sex; indeed, even Pallas or Minerva was represented as shunning its use, as only befitting her more voluptuous fellow-goddess, Venus.]



The name of a friend is common; but fidelity is rarely found.

Socrates having laid for himself the foundation of a small house (a man, whose death I would not decline, if I could acquire {similar} fame, and {like him} I could yield to envy, if I might be but acquitted[24] when ashes); one of the people, no matter who, {amongst such passing remarks} as are usual in these cases, asked: "Why do you, so famed as you are, build so small a house?"

"I {only} wish," he replied, "I could fill it with real friends."

[Footnote III.24: I might be acquitted)—Ver. 4. He alludes to the fate of Socrates, who, after he was put to death by his countrymen, was publicly pronounced to be innocent, and a statue was erected in his honour.]



It is dangerous alike to believe or to disbelieve. Of either fact, I will briefly lay before you an instance.

Hippolytus met his death,[25] because his step-mother was believed: because Cassandra was not believed, Troy fell. Therefore, we ought to examine strictly into the truth of a matter, rather than {suffer} an erroneous impression to pervert our judgment. But, that I may not weaken {this truth} by referring to fabulous antiquity, I will relate to you a thing that happened within my own memory.

A certain married Man, who was very fond of his Wife, having now provided the white toga[26] for his Son, was privately taken aside by his Freedman, who hoped that he should be substituted as his next heir, {and} who, after telling many lies about the youth, and still more about the misconduct of the chaste Wife, added, what he knew would especially grieve one so fond, that a gallant was in the habit of paying her visits, and that the honor of his house was stained with base adultery. Enraged at the supposed guilt of his Wife, the husband pretended a journey to his country-house, and privately stayed behind in town; then at night he suddenly entered at the door, making straight to his Wife's apartment, in which the mother had ordered her son to sleep, keeping a strict eye over his ripening years. While they are seeking for a light, while the servants are hurrying to and fro, unable to restrain the violence of his raging passion, he approaches the bed, and feels a head in the dark. When he finds the hair cut close,[27] he plunges his sword into {the sleeper's} breast, caring for nothing, so he but avenge his injury. A light being brought, at the same instant he beholds his son, and his chaste wife sleeping in her apartment; who, fast locked in her first sleep, had heard nothing: on the spot he inflicted punishment on himself for his guilt, and fell upon the sword which a too easy belief had unsheathed. The accusers indicted the woman, and dragged her to Rome, before the Centumviri.[28] Innocent as she was, dark suspicion weighed heavily against her, because she had become possessor of his property: her patrons stand[29] and boldly plead the cause of the guiltless woman. The judges then besought the Emperor Augustus that he would aid them in the discharge of their oath, as the intricacy of the case had embarrassed them. After he had dispelled the clouds raised by calumny, and had discovered a sure source of truth[30]: "Let the Freedman," said he, "the cause of the mischief, suffer punishment; but as for her, at the same instant bereft of a son, and deprived of a husband, I deem her to be pitied rather than condemned. If the father of the family had thoroughly enquired into the charge preferred, and had shrewdly sifted the lying accusations, he would not, by a dismal crime, have ruined his house from the very foundation."

Let the ear despise nothing, nor yet let it accord implicit belief at once: since not only do those err whom you would be far from suspecting, but those who do not err are {sometimes} falsely and maliciously accused.

This also may be a warning to the simple, not to form a judgment on anything according to the opinion of another; for the different aims of mortals either follow the bias of their goodwill or their prejudice. He {alone} will be correctly estimated {by you}, whom you judge of by personal experience.

These points I have enlarged upon, as by too great brevity I have offended some.

[Footnote III.25: Met his death)—Ver. 3. The story of Hippolytus, who met his death in consequence of the treachery of his step-mother Phaedra, is related at length in the Play of Euripides of that name, and in the Fifteenth Book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The fate of Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, who in vain prophesied the fall of Troy, is related in the Second Book of the Aeneid, l. 246, et seq.]

[Footnote III.26: The white toga)—Ver. 10. The "toga praetexta," or Consular robe, was worn by the male children of the Romans till their sixteenth year; when they assumed the ordinary "toga," which was called "pura," because it had no purple border, and was entirely white.]

[Footnote III.27: The hair cut close)—Ver. 27. This is appropriately introduced, as the hair of youths was allowed to grow long until they had reached the age of manhood, on which it was cut close, and consecrated to the Gods.]

[Footnote III.28: The Centumviri)—Ver. 35. The "Centumviri" were a body of 105 officers, whose duty it was to assist the praetor in litigated questions. They were sometimes called "judices selecti," or "commissioned judges."]

[Footnote III.29: The patrons stand)—Ver. 37. The patrons stood while pleading the causes of their clients, while the judges sat, as with us.]

[Footnote III.30: Sure source of truth)—Ver. 43. It is suggested that the source of information here alluded to was the evidence of the slaves, who had heard their master mention in his last moments the treachery of his freedman. It is not probable that the freedman voluntarily came forward, and declared the truth to Augustus. In l. 39, Augustus is called "Divus," as having been deified after his death. Domitian was the first who was so called during his lifetime.]



A Eunuch had a dispute with a scurrilous fellow, who, in addition to obscene remarks and insolent abuse, reproached him with the misfortune of his mutilated person. "Look you," said {the Eunuch}, "this is the only point as to which I am effectually staggered, forasmuch as I want the evidences of integrity. But why, simpleton, do you charge me with the faults of fortune? That {alone} is really disgraceful to a man, which he has deserved to suffer."[31]

[Footnote III.31: Deserved to suffer)—Ver. 7. Though this moral may apply to all misfortunes in general, it is supposed by some of the Commentators that by the insulter some individual notorious for his adulteries was intended to be represented; who consequently merited by law to be reduced to the same situation as the innocent Eunuch.]



A young Cock, while seeking for food on a dunghill, found a Pearl, and exclaimed: "What a fine thing are you to be lying in {so} unseemly a place. If any one sensible of your value had espied you here, you would long ago have returned to your former brilliancy. And it is I who have found you, I to whom food is far preferable! I can be of no use to you or you to me."

This I relate for those who have no relish for me.[32]

[Footnote III.32: Have no relish for me)—Ver. 8. From this passage we may infer either that Phaedrus himself had many censurers at Rome, or that the people in general were not admirers of Fables.]



Some Bees had made their combs in a lofty oak. Some lazy Drones asserted that these belonged to them. The cause was brought into court, the Wasp {sitting as} judge; who, being perfectly acquainted with either race, proposed to the two parties these terms: "Your shape is not unlike, and your colour is similar; so that the affair clearly and fairly becomes a matter of doubt. But that my sacred duty may not be at fault through insufficiency of knowledge, {each of you} take hives, and pour your productions into the waxen cells; that from the flavour of the honey and the shape of the comb, the maker of them, about which the present dispute exists, may be evident." The Drones decline; the proposal pleases the Bees. Upon this, the Wasp pronounces sentence to the following effect: "It is evident who cannot, and who did, make {them}; wherefore, to the Bees I restore the fruits of their labours."

This Fable I should have passed by in silence, if the Drones had not refused the proposed stipulation.[33]



An Athenian seeing Aesop in a crowd of boys at play with nuts,[34] stopped and laughed at him for a madman. As soon as the Sage,—a laugher at others rather than one to be laughed at,—perceived this, he placed an unstrung bow in the middle of the road: "Hark you, wise man," said he, "unriddle what I have done." The people gather round. The man torments his invention a long time, but cannot make out the reason of the proposed question. At last he gives up. Upon this, the victorious Philosopher says: "You will soon break the bow, if you always keep it bent; but if you loosen it, it will be fit for use when you want it."

Thus ought recreation sometimes to be given to the mind, that it may return to you better fitted for thought.

[Footnote III.33: The proposed stipulation)—Ver. 17. It has been suggested that Phaedrus here alludes to some who had laid claim to the authorship of his Fables, and had refused a challenge given by him, such as that here given to the Drones, to test the correctness of their assertions.]

[Footnote III.34: At play with nuts)—Ver. 2. It is thought by Schwabe that Phaedrus wrote this Fable in defence of his early patron Augustus, against those who censured him for the levity of his conduct in his old age, as we learn from Suetonius that he amused himself with fishing, playing with dice, pebbles, or nuts with boys. —For some account of Roman games with nuts, see "The Walnut-tree," a fragment of Ovid, in vol. iii. p. 491, of Bohn's Translation of that author.]



A Dog said to a Lamb[35] bleating among some She-Goats: "Simpleton, you are mistaken; your mother is not here;" and pointed out some Sheep at a distance, in a flock by themselves. "I am not looking for her," {said the Lamb}, "who, when she thinks fit, conceives, then carries her unknown burden for a certain number of months, and at last empties out the fallen bundle; but for her who, presenting her udder, nourishes me, and deprives her young ones of milk that I may not go without." "Still," said the Dog, "she ought to be preferred who brought you forth." "Not at all: how was she to know whether I should be born black or white?[36] However, suppose she did know; seeing I was born a male, truly she conferred a great obligation on me in giving me birth, that I might expect the butcher every hour. Why should she, who had no power in engendering me, be preferred to her who took pity on me as I lay, and of her own accord shewed me a welcome affection? It is kindliness makes parents, not the ordinary course {of Nature}."

By these lines the author meant to show that men are averse to fixed rules, but are won by kind services.

[Footnote III.35: To a Lamb)—Ver. 1. Burmann suggests that this Fable is levelled against the cruelty of parents, who were much in the habit of exposing their children, who were consequently far from indebted to them. Schwabe conjectures that the system of employing wet-nurses is intended here to be censured.]

[Footnote III.36: Black or white)—Ver. 10. This, though disregarded by the mother, would be of importance to him, as the black lambs were first selected for sacrifice.]



He who does not conform to courtesy, mostly pays the penalty of his superciliousness.

A Grasshopper was making a chirping that was disagreeable to an Owl, who was wont to seek her living in the dark, and in the day-time to take her rest in a hollow tree. She was asked to cease her noise, but she began much more loudly to send forth her note; entreaties urged again only set her on still more. The Owl, when she saw she had no remedy, and that her words were slighted, attacked the chatterer with this stratagem: "As your song, which one might take for the tones of Apollo's lyre, will not allow me to go to sleep, I have a mind to drink some nectar which Pallas lately gave me;[37] if you do not object, come, let us drink together." The other, who was parched with thirst, as soon as she found her voice complimented, eagerly flew up. The Owl, coming forth from her hollow, seized the trembling thing, and put her to death.

Thus what she had refused when alive, she gave when dead.

[Footnote III.37: Pallas lately gave me)—Ver. 13. The Owl was sacred to Pallas.]



The Gods in days of yore made choice of such Trees as they wished to be under their protection. The Oak pleased Jupiter, the Myrtle Venus, the Laurel Phoebus, the Pine Cybele, the lofty Poplar Hercules. Minerva, wondering why they had chosen the barren ones, enquired the reason. Jupiter answered: "That we may not seem to sell the honor for the fruit." "Now, so heaven help me,"[38] said she, "let any one say what he likes, but the Olive is more pleasing to me on account of its fruit." Then said the Father of the Gods and the Creator of men: "O daughter, it is with justice that you are called wise by all; unless what we do is useful, vain is our glory."[39]

This little Fable admonishes us to do nothing that is not profitable.

[Footnote III.38: So heaven help me)—Ver. 8. "Mehercule," literally "By Hercules." This was a form of oath used generally by men, and Phaedrus has been censured for here putting it in the mouth of Minerva. Some Commentators also think that he is guilty of a slight anachronism in using the name of Hercules here to give emphasis to an asseveration; but there does not appear to be any ground for so thinking, as the choice must, of course, be supposed to have been made after his death and deification. In the Amphitryon of Plautus, Mercury is represented as swearing by Hercules before that God was born.]

[Footnote III.39: Vain is our glory)—Ver. 12. "Nisi utile est quod facimus, stulta est gloria." This line is said to have been found copied on a marble stone, as part of a sepulchral inscription, at Alba Julia or Weissenburg, in Transylvania.]



A Peacock came to Juno, complaining sadly that she had not given to him the song of the Nightingale; that it was the admiration of every ear, while he himself was laughed at the very instant he raised his voice. The Goddess, to console him, replied: "But you surpass the {nightingale} in beauty, you surpass {him} in size; the brilliancy of the emerald shines upon your neck; and you unfold a tail begemmed with painted plumage." "Wherefore {give} me," he retorted, "a beauty that is dumb, if I am surpassed in voice?" "By the will of the Fates," {said she}, "have your respective qualities been assigned; beauty to you, strength to the Eagle, melody to the Nightingale, to the Raven presages, unpropitious omens to the Crow; all of {these} are contented with their own endowments."

Covet not that which has not been granted you, lest your baffled hopes sink down to {useless} repinings.



When Aesop was the only servant of his master, he was ordered to prepare dinner earlier than usual. Accordingly, he went round to several houses, seeking for fire,[40] and at last found a place at which to light his lantern. Then as he had made a rather long circuit, he shortened the way back, for he went home straight through the Forum. There a certain Busybody in the crowd {said to him}: "Aesop, why with a light at mid-day?" "I'm in search of a man,"[41] said he; and went hastily homewards.

If the inquisitive fellow reflected on this {answer}, he must have perceived that the sage did not deem him a man, who could so unseasonably rally him when busy.

[Footnote III.40: Seeking for fire)—Ver. 3. Fire was kindled in general by being kept smouldering in a log under the ashes, from day to day, for culinary purposes; or else it was begged from a neighbour, as we learn from the Aulularia of Plautus, A. I., Sc. ii., l. 12 et seq.; and so generally was this done that we find it stated in the Trinummus, A. II., sc. ii., l. 53, that it was the custom not to refuse fire when asked for even to an enemy.]

[Footnote III.41: In search of a man)—Ver 9. Meaning that he did not deem the enquirer to be a man. The same story is told in Diogenes Laertius, of Diogenes the Cynic.]


There are yet remaining {Fables} for me to write, but I purposely abstain; first, that I may not seem troublesome to you, whom a multiplicity of matters distract; and next, that, if perchance any other person is desirous to make a like attempt, he may still have something left to do; although there is so abundant a stock of matter that an artist will be wanting to the work, not work to the artist. I request that you will give the reward to my brevity which you promised; make good your word. For life each day is nearer unto death; and the greater the time that is wasted in delays, the less the advantage that will accrue to me. If you dispatch the matter quickly, the more lasting will be {my} enjoyment; the sooner I receive {your favours}, the longer shall I have the benefit {thereof}. While there are yet some remnants of a wearied life,[43] there is room for {your} goodness; in aftertimes your kindness will in vain endeavour to aid me, infirm with old age; for then I shall have ceased to be able to enjoy your kindness, and death, close at hand, will be claiming its due. I deem it foolish to address my entreaties to you, when your compassion is so ready, spontaneously, to render assistance. A criminal has often gained pardon by confessing; how much more reasonably ought it to be granted to the innocent? It is your province[44] {now to judge of my cause}; it will fall to others by-and-by; and again by a like revolution, the turn of others will come. Pronounce the sentence, as religion—as your oath permits; and give me reason to rejoice in your decision. My feelings have passed the limits they had proposed; but the mind is with difficulty restrained, which, conscious of unsullied integrity, is exposed to the insults of spiteful men. "Who are they?" you will ask: they will be seen in time. For my part, so long as I shall continue in my senses, I shall take care to recollect that "it is a dangerous thing for a man of humble birth to murmur in public.[45]"

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse