aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

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Aesop, The Trodden-on Snake and Zeus (Chambry 291)

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ὄφις ὑπὸ πολλῶν πατούμενος ἀνθρώπων τῷ Διὶ ἐνετύγχανε περὶ τούτου. ὁ δὲ Ζεὺς πρὸς αὐτὸν εἶπεν· “ἀλλ’ εἰ τὸν πρότερόν σε πατήσαντα ἔπληξας, οὐκ ἂν ὁ δεύτερος ἐπεχείρησε τοῦτο ποιῆσαι.”

ὁ λόγος δηλοῖ ὅτι οἱ τοῖς πρώτοις ἐπιβαίνουσιν ἀνθιστάμενοι τοῖς ἄλλοις φοβεροὶ γίνονταί.

A snake who had been trodden on by many people went and appealed to Zeus about the matter. Zeus told him: ‘But if you had struck the first one who trod on you, the second would not have attempted to do the same thing.’

The story shows that people who stand up to those who first make an attack become formidable to the others.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aesop

Aesop, The Fox and the Grapes (Chambry 32)

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One of the shortest of the humorous fables collected under the name of Aesop.

ἀλώπηξ λιμώττουσα, ὡς ἐθεάσατο ἀπό τινος ἀναδενδράδος βότρυας κρεμαμένους, ἠβουλήθη αὐτῶν περιγενέσθαι καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο. ἀπαλλαττομένη δὲ πρὸς ἑαυτὴν εἶπεν· “ὄμφακές εἰσιν.”

[οὕτω καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἔνιοι τῶν πραγμάτων ἐφικέσθαι μὴ δυνάμενοι δι’ ἀσθένειαν τοὺς καιροὺς αἰτιῶνται.]

A starving fox, on seeing some bunches of grapes hanging from a vine that was growing up a tree, wanted to get hold of some of them, but was unable to. As he went away he said to himself ‘They aren’t ripe.’

[In the same way some people, who cannot succeed in their business because they are feeble, put the blame on circumstances.]

Aesop’s fables, loved by generations of children in more or less bowdlerised and moralising versions, have recently appeared in two new translations (Penguin and World’s Classics) which reveal the full range of their delights.

The often feeble ‘morals’ at the end of these fables were evidently added to the text at a rather later date than their composition, which explains the square brackets in my text above.

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Aesop