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From Fables of Babrius, in Two Parts, translated into English Verse from the text of Sir G. C. Lewis, by the Rev. John Davies, M.A., London: Lockwood & Co.,1860; pp. 123 to 162.




Translated into English verse from the text of Sir G. C. Lewis.




Part II.

[Fables 1-39]




Son, to this second book thine ear incline.
Should it embitter thee far more than brine,
Yet afterward a sweeter taste I leave
Than honey. Yet not me, I pray, receive
As him that spake these fables. The belong
To Sardian Æsop, whom most grievous wrong,
And god-abhorr’d, at Delphian hands befell,
So ill they treated one who sang so well.
Fools that they were, they forced him down a steep,
And left their sons a hateful name to keep.


Proem. Fab. I. — For the murder of Æsop by the Delphians, who did not agree with him respecting the distribution of money among the citizens, with which he had been charged by Crœsus, see Plutarch de ser. Num. vind. p. 556. The Delphians repented, and granted compensation to his grandson. See Smith, D. G. R. B. vol. i. p. 47.a



(P. F. 211. Aristoph. Av. 471, &c.)

Among old saws this also Æsop said:
’Ere other birds, ’ere e’en the earth was made,
A first existence had the tufted lark;
Whose darling child reach’d life’s allotted mark,
And death, it chanced, by some disorder met.
Now, as the earth was not in being yet,
She knew not were, (how should she?) to inter
Her dead. Five days ’twas left expos’d by her:
Then, sore perplex’t, for grave she lent her head.

’Tis holy, gather hence, t’ entomb the dead:
And filial love is a time-honour’d thing,
Of laws the best; and nature’s ordering.


Fab. II, — Cf. Aristoph. Av. 474.



(P. F. 19.)

At leisure to indulge in seeing sights,
The gaze of Æsop on a dockyard lights.
He chanced on shipwrights there, with nought to do,
Who at the sage their gibes full rudely threw,
And by their mocking challenged his reply.
His words in this not pointless fable lie.
“Chaos and Water from the first had been;
But Jove desired that Earth, till then unseen,
Above the mass of waters should arise:
Then did he her ‘to swallow thrice’ advise
‘The waterfloods.’ At the first draught she made,
Behold the mountains in their height display’d.
When now the earth her second gulp had ta’en,
Naked to view stood many a grassy plain.
And should she soon to take a third see fit
Your craft, methinks, will straight her craftsmen quit.”

Who use to betters silly words and light,
Alway against themselves the laugh invite.


(P. F. 6.)

An eagle once was netted by a hind;
Who, having clipp’d its wings, no more confined
Its freedom midst the birds about his cot.
A fowler soon this bird by purchase got,
Let its wings grow, that late had been cut short,
And kept it thus for purposes of sport.
Soon it essay’d a flight, and seized a hare,
A gift ’twas glad to its new lord to bear.
A fox looked on, and to the eagle said:
“To thy first lord, not this, be honour paid,
Lest he again should catch thee in his toil,
And thee, by clipping, of thy wings despoil.”

These words the sacred eagle’s answer are:
“Good men I must respect, from bad keep far.”



(P. F. 404.)

A vine with foliage and ripe clusters bloom’d.
Its shoots a goat with nibbling tooth consumed,
Whom thus the vine addrest: “Why injure me?
And browse my leaves? Is there no grass for thee?
Yet thou ere long thy just deserts shalt meet.
Though now my shoots thou to the quick dost eat,
To me no less shall satisfaction rise,
When juice o’er thee I pour in sacrifice.”


Fab. V. — Compare Ovid. Fast. I. 357. See, too, Virg. Georg. II. 374-9.


(P. F. 63.)

A lion and a man, together thrown,
Held conversation each in boastful tone.
Their gaze, in walking, on a statue lit,
A man astride a lion, strangling it.
128 This man this sculpture bade the lion see,
And said, “O’er lions note our mastery.”
“Nay,” said the beast, “if lions only knew
The sculptor’s art, on mortals not a few
By lions rush’d and strangled you might gaze.”

Each doth himself in his own talk be-praise.


(P. F. 215.)

To feed a swan, one purchase[d] with a goose,
A different reason did a man induce.
One for the table, one for song was fed.
So when he came the goose’s blood to shed,
(It had been fatted for its master’s board,)
Night, drawing on, her film o’er all things pour’d.
Best of all times for catching birds is night;
Yet fail’d the owner to distinguish right
Which was the swan, and which the goose might be — 
Hence for the goose, by accident left free,
129 Away to doom the tuneful swan was led;
But when his song his species heralded,
That song was able to postpone his end.

Speech used in season many doth befriend.


(P. F. 74.)

In marshy swamp two frogs were wont to bide.
When in the summer season this was dried,
They left, it, for another home to look,
And in their road a well of water took.
Beholding this, thus spake the first of these:
“Into this well descend we, if you please,
Since both for food and dwelling it bids fair.”
The other said, with blame-suggestive air,
130 “Nay, but suppose this too should chance to fail,
How from a depth so great could we avail
To re-ascend?”

                              Hence learn a moral true,
Without forethought ’tis useless aught to do.


(P. F. 76.)

The curse of anarchy the frogs annoy’d;
Who to Heaven’s throne an embassy employ’d,
To ask, if Jove would furnish them a king.
He knew the frog was but a silly thing;
So order’d Hermes right into the bog
To throw, for king of croakers, a mute log.
As the log fell, the waters felt the blow,
And the frogs hasten’d to the depths below,
In terror for the moment at the sound.
But a short space, after these things, went round;
131 And when they saw their sov’reign motionless,
They cast off fear, scorn only to profess;
So much so, that on it the boldly stept,
And mounted there, seats undisputed kept.
Such king to own, occasion’d high disdain;
And up they went to the Gods’ courts again,
Where they the chief of rulers much besought
To send them such a monarch as they ought
To have. “That beam was quite unfit to sway
Mute logs, far more such living beings as they.
That stump was grown but to be food for fire.”
Next Jove sent down an eel for their desire.
They saw that this was also a mere fool,
And would not have it over them to rule.
A third legation then they sent of Jove,
With earnest pray’r their second king to move.
And give them one with better sense supplied,
Fitly o’er them with justice to preside.
Their message, heard, led Jove offence to take,
And send them for their king a water-snake;
Who, getting all in turn within his power,
Did each poor frog with ruthless maw devour;
132 No more to cry “coäx,” no more to croak!

Such fate too many of mankind provoke,
When from old rulers they their love revoke.


(P. F. 4.)

An archer at an eagle took his aim.
The shaft he sent, true to the eagle came.
To whom when, as he turn’d his head, ’twas known,
The shaft was wing’d with feathers of his own;
With mine own feather I have made my bed.”
“Ah! luckless me!” his dying accents said:
With mine own feathers I have made my bed.”

Most from their own, much loss have sufferèd.



[Compare Part I. Fable LII. P. F. 79.]

Their wain some oxen to a village drew.
And at its creaking axle wrathful grew.
Turning to it, they said, “Why creak you thus?
When all the burden has been laid on us.”

When others work, some call the toil their own,
And, over what they had no hand in, moan.


Fab. XI. — Compare the slightly varied fable of Babrius, Part I Fab. 52.


(P. F. 75.)

Two frogs were dwelling each to other near;
Now one abode in a deep marshy mere,
Which at no distance from the highroad lay;
One in a puddle on the carriage-way.
134 He of the mere the other recommends
To change his quarters, come, and live as friends,
And thus a safer dwelling to obtain.
The other said, declining, “’Twould be pain
Too great for him accustom’d haunts to quit,”
And held his way, till passing over it
A wagon came by; by which the frog was crushed,
And thus on fate, by not complying, rush’d.


(P. F. 290.)

For common use to Rhea’s vagrant priests
Was sold an ass, most luckless among beasts,
That it might carry for these begging knaves
Rites, food, whate’er from thirst or hunger saves.
These roam’d, as is their wont, the country through,
And craved provisions, asking, “Who but knew,
135 Among the swains, how Attis fair was maim’d?
To Rhea’s drum who would not be ashamed
To fail in gifts of first-rate pulse and bread?”
At length the ass, o’erburden’d, fell down dead,
Poor wretch, and said good-bye to all his toil.
Him the rogues hasten’d of his hide to spoil,
And stretch’d it, closely-fitted, o’er a drum:
On other roguish priests they chanced to come,
As they were roaming through the villages,
Furnished with drums. And they were asked by
How fared their ass. “It died long time ago,”
They answered, “yet it now receives a blow
So often, that, had it been still alive,
’Neath these it could by no means long survive.”


Fab. XIII. — The Galli, or priests of Cybele, seem to have had their origin in Phrygia, and to have been chosen always from a poor and despised race of people; for while no other priests were allowed to beg, the Galli were permitted to do so on certain days. Compare Cicero de Leg. II. c. 9 and 16. Smith’s Dict. G. R. A. 447.a

Ibid. v. 6, 7. — Atys or Attis was a beautiful shepherd of Phrygia, beloved by Cybele, whence arose all his misfortunes. See Ovid. Fast. iv. 221-44. His death was annually bewailed by the Galli. Compare the poem on the subject of Atys in Catullus, LXIII. — These references will explain the allusions in the text of this fable.



(P. F. 92.)

A rustic saw an eagle in the snare,
And, as he much admired its beauty rare,
He loosed it from its fetters forth to roam:
Thence did the eagle a warm friend become
To its preserver. For, t’avoid the heat
And catch the breeze, it saw him take his seat
Beneath a wall. It snatch’d, as o’er it flew,
A burden from his head, and this it threw
Far off. The rustic, eager to pursue
His pack, made for it. Down the walling fell:
And thus the rustic was requited well.

Kind acts, if birds in grateful memory set,
Can any, save the worst of men, forget?



(P. F. 101.)

Gold, as the earth he dug, a labourer found,
And every day with garlands wreath’d the ground,
Seeing that thence he reap’d undoubted good:
But with this speech dame Fortune o’er him stood:
“Why ever, man, dost thou my gifts mistake
For earth’s? ’Twas I that did thy riches make,
I, by whose help ’tis said that some are blest,
Who chance to find me kinder than the rest;
And those unblest, to whom bad luck I bring.
Now I enrich thee thus, as purposing
To try thy judgment, while this wealth I send,
Whether thou wilt it well or ill expend.
’Twere meet, thou shouldst feel gratitude to me;
For if thy nature changed with times should be,
And thou unworthily shouldst squander all,
On me, and not on earth, the blame would fall.”

If any to thee do an office kind,
See that they never thee unmindful find.


(P. F. 110.)

A very careful dame, of busy way,
Kept maids at home, and these, ere break of day,
She used to rouse as early as cock-crow.
They thought ’twas hard to be awaken’d so,
And o’er wool-spinning be at work so long;
Hence grew within them all a purpose strong
To kill the house-cock, whom they thought to blame
For all their wrongs. But no advantage came.
Worse treatment than the former them befell;
For when the hour their mistress could not tell
At which by night the cock was wont to crow,
She roused them earlier, to their work to go.
A harder lot the wretched maids endured.

Back judgment oft hath such results procured.


Fab. XVI. 2, — A slight emendation of the Greek text suggests itself to the translator, viz. to read ἅσπερ for ὥσπερ, and to omit the comma after εἰώθει. This gives an intelligible sense to the passage, and facilitates translation. In the next fable verses 13-17 are evidently imperfect, and it is hopeless to attempt a literal translation. An approximatory guess is the translator’s only resource.



(P. F. 112.)

A woman boasted the divining art,
And that, when Gods make the wrongdoer smart
Her spells could bar the curse of ancient sin.
Large fee paid those who would her secret win.
She found this trade all arts of life surpass’d;
So when the witch much substance had amass’d,
Some, on this charge, an accusation wrote,
And she was sentenced by a fateful vote.
One saw her led away for death, and cried;
“What! was it not thy promise and thy pride,
From other mortals wrath divine to turn?
Thy jurors’ votes why didst thou fail to earn
By thy persuasion? This escaped thy plan,
(Thinking t’ upset things sacred, and to man
The counsels of the Gods-above unseal,
And how much anger they toward sinners feel,)
To avert thy dragging o’er the fatal way.”

A just atonement lying prophets pay.



(P. F. 107.)

Afflicted with disorder in the eyes,
An ancient dame a famous doctor tries,
In hopes that he her malady may cure.
Now ’twas greed, before a witness sure,
That if that woman’s eyesight he should save,
An ample fee the oculist should have:
But if the healer rid not of disease
His patient, he should forfeit all his fees.
As then with oils he did her eyes anoint,
And of his daily visit made a point,
Blindfolding her withal, her sight to shade,
Free with his patient’s property he made.
Thus he continued every day to do,
And when he by degrees her goods withdrew,
And all her stock had actually ta’en,
At last the woman did her sight regain.
141 Of course the healer further claim’d his fee.
The dame, with sight recover’d, fail’d to see
Aught of her chattels, and refused to pay
A doctor, who with these had made away.
The healer pressed his suit, his payment sought;
She put him off, and would not pay him aught.
Before the courts he therefore brings the case,
And then the woman, standing face to face
Before the jurors, told them all the truth:
“This doctor, gentlemen, pretends, in sooth,
He heal’d mine eyes, which healing balms did need;
But I maintain that blindness sore indeed
I suffer still; for with mine ailing eyes
I saw goods, chattels, riches, all I prize,
At home. But now, when yon rogue says I see,
Not one of these, I say, is seen by me.”

’Tis thus, to love of gain when bad men yield,
By their own hands their doings are reveal’d.



(P. F. 219.)

One day some dogs a lion’s skin had found;
To tear it hasten’d each audacious hound;
And when a fox their impudence beheld,
“If still,” said she, “his place the lion held
Amid the living, ye should find his claws
Would, oh! how much, surpass your feebler jaws.”

To lesser men who, left alone, assail
An absent better, use this simple tale!



(P. F. 120.)

A dragon and an eagle fiercely met,
Contending, which should which as captive get.
The dragon got the eagle ’neath his yoke,
And bound him fast, so as almost to choke.
A farmer saw, and loosed the dragon-chain,
And bade the eagle roam at large again.
At this the dragon deep resentment bore,
And in the farmer’s cup did venom pour.
So when he was about to lift it up,
Not knowing its contents, and drain the cup,
On this the eagle pounced with flapping wings,
And from the farmer’s grasp the vessel flings.
Thus him that saved him did the eagle save,
Thus to his champion grateful succour gave.



(P. F. 288.)

Some busy bees, beneath an old oak’s roots
Were making wax of gather’d flowers and fruits.
A shepherd saw them in sweet toil partake,
And of their comb a capture fain would make.
Round him they buzz’d, outvying one another
T’ avert the theft, the thief with stings to smother.
At last the shepherd, stung and smitten sore,
Exclaim’d, “I go! no honey want I more,
If I must needs encounter stings of bees!”

Keep from another’s goods, and dwell at ease.



(P. F. 94.)

A shipwreck’d man, by ocean cast ashore,
Slept when his weary toil at last was o’er;
But, in a while, up-rising out of sleep,
He blamed with many a charge the treach’rous deep;
Saying, that she had sailors oft beguiled,
Wearing for these a surface calm and mild,
And a fair face, betokening placid seas,
And yet o’erwhelm’d them, if they tried the breeze.
But she to him in words like these replied:
“Sailor, who crossest oft the ocean-tide,
The winds, not me, I pray thee, learn to blame;
For my calm nature ever is the same,
As thou beholdest even at this hour;
But when, unlook’d for, boist’rous tempests lour,
With anger’d waves my depths they agitate.”

Let blame on causes, not their agents, wait.


Fab. XXII, — Compare with this fable that which occurs as Fable 71 of the first part. Sir G. C. Lewis illustrates the reply of the sea in v. 9-14, by a distich of Solon, from which it appears to have originated (p. 21, ed. Schneidewin), and by the speech of Artabanus to Xerxes, Herodot. vii. 16. In the last verse of the fable we would read,

τοῖς δρῶσιν οὐχὶ, τοῖσιν αἰτίοις μέμφου.



(P. F. 44.)

A deep-toned ass, with over-weening bray,
Proclaim’d to every beast a congress-day.
The meeting’s object was a king to name,
From whose wise rule the brutes might justice claim.
An ape amongst them danced to music’s sound,
And hence as king of beasts was named, and crowned.
The envious fox was bent to play the cheat:
Fixt in some nets she saw a piece of meat,
And led the monkey to the guilesome snare,
Saying, “I’ve found a treasure vast and rare,
A prize, by human custom, due to kings.”
Into the nets the monkey thus she brings.
Said Reynard, mocking, “Being such a fool,
Dost think, good ape, among the beasts to rule?

Fare as befits thee, and not ill thou’lt fare;
But over-strength will heavier damage share.



(Compare Part I. LIX. P. F. 155.)

Prometheus, Jove, and the Tritonian maid,
That each would make one thing, agreed and said.
Jove made a bull; Prometheus fashion’d men;
Pallas a dwelling. Envious Momus then
Was critic. He, of hatred ever full
To works divine, said, “Jove had spoil’d the bull;
Whereas o’er horns he should have placed the eyes,
Eye below horn in Jove’s construction lies.”
Prometheus was to blame: he fail’d to place
Man’s mind outside, “that none in actions base
Might lack detection, each might plainly read
Of what each sev’ral man stood most in need.”
Nor did the work of Pallas pass unblamed;
“Unfixt, of right, should be the house she framed,
With wheels beneath, that if an evil one
Should sojourn near, with ease it might begone.”
148 Justly was Jove with Momus wroth, I wot,
Who the Gods’ gifts to censure scrupled not.

My son, this fable’s teaching is not small;
Into oblivion do not let it fall.
For ever toward mankind the Gods are good;
Yet, not e’en these escape maligners rude;
And if, in fact, Gods could not Momus flee,
What must not men endure from such as he?


Fab. XXIV. — Compare Part I. Fab. LIX. The epimyths present the chief difference between the two.


(P. F. 386.)

A herald to the fight the host did stir:
No warrior he, but a good trumpeter.
Now he, when taken, to his captors spake,
“My life, for I am guiltless, do not take;
For never man in the wild battle-plain
Have I, nor e’en my faithful trumpet, slain.
No metal beside this do I possess.”
This was to him their answer pitiless:
149 “Why, ’tis for this thou art about to die,
More than all else. Thou giv’st the battle-cry
To others, though no fighter.
                                                            That man kills,
Who any work, through which we die, fulfils.


(P. F. 159.)

Along a narrow lane went Hercules;
And something sheep-like on the ground he sees,
Which with his club t’ exterminate he tries;
But it, once struck, began to grow in size.
Seeing it to such bulk so quickly swell,
To heavier blows with all his might he fell.
To wondrous bulk again the monster rose,
And block’d the way, all passage to oppose.
Hercules marvell’d how the thing could end,
Cast down his club, and halted. Where to wend
150 He knew not. Lo! Athena met his sight.
“Spare toil,” quoth she, “and, hero, learn aright,
Strife is the strange appearance which you see.
Let it but, as before, unhinder’d be,
And unincreas’d ’twill bide. In contest thus
Swoll’n, as you see, it masters all of us.”


(P. F. 160.)

Ridden to feast at each immortal’s side,
The hero once with men, now deified,
Sweet converse with each God held Hercules,
Till he had come to Plutus, last of these.
To speak to him the hero’s soul disdain’d,
Nor converse with him, like the rest, maintain’d.
Jove in amazement for an answer press’d,
Why he had ev’ry other God address’d,
151 But not one syllable to Plutus said.
Then Hercules to Jove this answer made:
“Why, because him, abhorr’d on earth by me,
I never saw but in rogues’ company.”


(P. F. 385.)

For beauty’s prize once strove the apple-tree
With the pomegranate. Each strove angrily.
The thorn-inflicting bramble, dwelling nigh,
Heard all the strife, and utter’d language high
To both. “Let us from rivalry desist
For beauty’s prize, my friends.”

                                                        Bid that man list
This fable, who himself, tho’ vastly less,
Would thrust mid nobler men, through foolishness.


Fab. XXVIII. — Compare the epimyth of this fable, which has a political end in view, with Fable 39, Part I. v. 3, 4.



(P. F. 312.)

As men to work did from a village go,
Upon their path came suddenly a crow,
Flying above, and blind in his left eye:
And one man said that this was reason why
They should turn back: the omen did not bode
Good luck to them, if they pursued their road.
Not without wit the other answer’d thus:
“How could that bird tell aught of fate to us,
Which not her own bereavement had foreknown,
Or round her eyes a guard she would have thrown.”



(P. F. 207.)

Bearing aloft a snake the kite up-flew,
Whom with a bite its captive turning slew,
And thus addrest him as he breath’d his last:
“Into such phrensy wherefore wast thou cast,
As to have injured me, who hurt thee not?
What thou for me designedst, is thy lot.”



A haughty troop unto a village hies,
A muster strong of over-ruling Lies.
Of broider’d purple were the robes they wore;
Each of their steeds its golden cheek-piece bore.
154 Behind, a throng audacious follow’d quick,
Deceit and Guile, and every knavish Trick.
And lo! they met a maiden on their road,
Her dress and fashion of a simple mode,
Nay, somewhat poor. Yet stately was her mien,
And long unfed, poor sufferer, had she been.
Her did these Lies accost, and sought to know
Whither, and on what errand she would go.
She answer’d, “Pardon sirs, if no reply
Comes from a throat with thirst and hunger dry.”
So then Lies thus answer’d her again: — 
“To yon near village follow in our train;
’Tis but a small one, yet ‘’tis well supplied;
Well-victuall’d hostels will good cheer provide;
Come as our guest, and you shall eat your fill.”
She followed them, deject, and downcast still,
Into the inn: but ne’er a word she said.
Mine host on their arrival quickly spread
For them a table fill’d with various meats,
Whence each one, as he lists, his fancy treats.
This done, they bridled steeds, and cried “to horse!”
When for his reckoning asks the host, of course.
155 On this the Lies were wroth at his demand,
Which they nor paid, nor yet would understand.
The brood of impudence in vain he sues:
They answer straight: “That he has had his dues,
That they have paid, like gentlemen, the cost.”
To press each for his share was labour lost:
And much less could he force the banded throng:
Against a troop was ever one man strong?
Upon the door-step stay’d the fellow-guest,
Without a word, but still with look deprest.
The landlord now despair’d to see his own:
And “Truth, where art thou?” cried in heighten’d tone.
She answer’d: “Here, good sir, but what to do
I knew not: till I met yon reckless crew,
My want of food was wholly unsupplied;
Ay, and without them, I had long since died.”



(P. F. 253.)

A lion met a goat, beside a spring,
In summer thirst to all brings suffering,
To beasts, and soil, and plants, no less than man.
For the first sip a quarrel then began.
Dire was the strife, and would have led to death.
But that the parted, to recover breath
For further conflict, just a little space,
Looking each other fiercely in the face:
And gathering vultures suddenly they spied,
Which, from aloft, their wrathful struggle eyed,
In expectation of a well-timed treat,
Since he that fell would furnish dainty meat.
Now, as on these the weary champions gaze,
157 “Come, cease we fighting,” each to other says;
Better be friends, than yield the vultures food!”

By thee, my son, too, be dire strife eschew’d,
For homes and cities it hath ever strew’d.


Fab. XXXII, — There is no prose version extant of this singular fable. But it may be compared with Babr. Part I. Fab. 57. and Part II. 52., with which it, in parts, corresponds. The three concluding verses seem hopelessly corrupt, and defy translation.


(P. F. 206.)

A crow the swans their fair complexion grudged:
He would have been quite as white-skinn’d, he
Did he but float on river, or on lake:
He left the hearths, where he was wont to take
His food, and to the swans’ dank dwelling went.
To him no change of hue ablution lent,
But famine kill’d him, when no food he got.

Nature a change of dwelling alters not.



(P. F. 223.)

To swallow eggs was a dog’s wonted fun:
Seeing a cockle, this he took for one,
And gorged it with a gulp immediately:
Then sorely griped in bowels by and by,
“A just reward,” quoth he, “my sin hath found
Because for eggs I took whate’er was round.”

Choose thou the real, not what fair may sound.


(P. F. 395.)

A bull a lion wrapt in slumber caught,
Whose death by goring with his horns he wrought;
His dame came up, and o’er her cub made wail:
A wild boar overheard her piteous tale.
159 Standing afar, — “How many more,” quoth he,
“Of mothers weep for offspring bitterly,
Which having slaughter’d, ye your banquet keep.”

Know that ill-doers their deserts shall reap.


(P. F. 234.)

A boasting gnat drew to a lion near:
And said: “No greater strength for me to fear
Has thou! What is thy force? — with claws to
With teeth to bite? — this might a woman match:
Nay, oft she does, when striving with her mate
For no great ends. My strength is far more great.
But come! let us the strength of each compare!”
It buzz’d, and fixed on parts devoid of hair,
And the poor lion’s face and nostrils stung.
That lion’s claws to his own visage clung,
160 Reeking with blood. He yielded in despair.
Then the gnat’s trumpet sounded triumph rare.
It flew aloft, in lion-victor’s pride,
Till, captured in a spider’s web, it cried,
“Alas, my wretched fate, since e’en tho’ I
The greatest conqueror, by the small I die!”

Weakness ’gainst strength may something seem to do,
Yet pays the cost to foes it never knew.


(P. F. 416.)

A twittering swallow hail’d a husky crow.
“Me for a royal maid of Athens know!
And as a daughter of her kings of yore:
Not small renown our home of heroes bore.”
To this vague prattle (love of talk was strong:)
She adds the tale of Tereus, and his wrong.
161 These words to her the crow in answer said:
“Pandion’s boastful child, Athenian maid!
Had you a tongue, to what lengths would you go,
Since, when it is cut off, you twitter so!”


Fab. XXXVII, — Cf. Fab. XII. Part I., and Fab. XC. Part II. and see Note on the former.


(P. F. 239.)

A gull once gorged a fish, fell down, and died,
Because its throat to pass the spoil denied.
A kite looked on, and said: “Just fate ensues,
Since, though a fowl, a fishy food you choose.”

Aim your own station, and no more, to fill,
Work nature’s hests, and you escape from ill.



(P. F. 175. Aristot. Rhet. II. 20.)

At summer season, o’er a flowery mead
A well maned horse was wont at large to feed;
And ill brook’d he that any other beast
Should graze the herbage, where he loved to feast.
For his sole use he deemed the meads unfold
Their verdure. But a stag, not over bold,
Came oft, and nibbled at the grassy plain;
So how to punish her he wrack’ his brain.
Seeing a man, he ask’d his sage advice,
Who said that he would help him in a trice
To take upon the stag a vengeance just,
If to the bridle he his mouth would trust,
And on his saddled back the man might ride.
The horse — a slave since then till now — complied.

Observe, I pray, the grievous curse entail’d,
Where selfishness has over sense prevail’d.


Fab. XXXIX. — Horace, Epist. I. x. 34. Aristot. Rhet. II. 20.

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