Saturday, 14 January 2017

Phaedrus 1,8: be careful whom you help.

A wolf has a bone in his throat and a credulous crane helps him with her long neck and beak to remove it. But he doesn’t give her the promised reward: the crane must be glad not having her head bitten off.  A lesson in international diplomacy.

Phaedrus 1.8
Meter : iambicus senarius (six feet iambic)

Lupus et Gruis

Qui pretium meriti ab improbis desiderat,
bis peccat: primum quoniam indignos adiuvat,
impune abire deinde quia iam non potest.
Os devoratum fauce cum haereret lupi,
magno dolore victus coepit singulos
inlicere pretio ut illud extraherent malum.
Tandem persuasa est iureiurando gruis,
gulae quae credens colli longitudinem
periculosam fecit medicinam lupo.
Pro quo cum pactum flagitaret praemium,
'Ingrata es' inquit 'ore quae nostro caput
incolume abstuleris et mercedem postules'.

gruis (f.): crane (bird) (normally grus, gruis)
pretium: reward
improbus: wicked
meritum: service, favor
adiuvo (-are): to help
impune abire deinde quia iam non potest =  deinde (peccat) quia iam non potest impune abire
impune: unpunished
os ossis (n.): bone
faux faucis (f.): throat (The plural fauces is normally used and only the abl. is used in the singular.)
haereo haesi: to stick
victus: overpowered
singulos:  one after the other
inlicio inlexi inlectum: to allure, entice
ut pretio
iureiurando: by (the wolf) making an oath
gulae credens colli longitudinem: trusting the length of her neck to the throat of (the wolf).  (credens also means `to lend, make a loan’ and this meaning is also possible with regard to the reward offered.)
mediciam facio alicui: to practice medicine for someone, cure someone
pactum praemium: the agreed (paciscor) reward
flagito: to demand urgently
quae ore
os oris (n.): mouth
incolumis is: safe, uninjured
aufero abstuli ablatum (+ abl.): to withdraw
merces mercedis (f.): reward


Translation by Christopher Smart (1913)

The Wolf and Crane

Who for his merit seeks a price
From men of violence and vice,
Is twice a fool-first so declared,
As for the worthless he has cared;
Then after all, his honest aim
Must end in punishment and shame.
A bone the Wolf devoured in haste,
Stuck in his greedy throat so fast,
That, tortured with the pain, he roar'd,
And ev'ry beast around implored,
That who a remedy could find
Should have a premium to his mind.
A Crane was wrought upon to trust
His oath at length-and down she thrust
Her neck into his throat impure,
And so perform'd a desp'rate cure.
At which, when she desired her fee,
"You base, ungrateful minx," says he,
"Whom I so kind forbore to kill,
And now, forsooth, you'd bring your bill!"