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Fable of the Day: Vir amicos experiri volens

Title: De viro amicos experiri volente: The man who wanted to test his friends, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Vir quidam dives admodum et liberalis magnam habebat amicorum copiam, quos ad cenam saepissime invitabat, ad quam libentissime accedebant. Volens autem experiri, an in laboribus et periculis sibi fideles essent, omnes pariter convocavit, dicens obortos sibi inimicos, ad quos perdendos ire statuerat. Quare correptis armis secum irent ut illatas sibi ulciscerentur iniurias: tunc omnes praeter duos sese excusare coeperunt. Ceteris igitur repudiatis, illos tantum duos in amicorum numero habuit, quos deinde singulari amore prosecutus est. Haec indicat fabula adversam fortunam amicitiae experimentum esse quam optimum.


Here is a segmented version to help you see the grammatical patterns:



Vir quidam

dives admodum et liberalis
magnam habebat amicorum copiam,
quos ad cenam saepissime invitabat,
ad quam libentissime accedebant.
Volens autem experiri,
an in laboribus et periculis
sibi fideles essent,
omnes pariter convocavit,
dicens
obortos sibi inimicos,
ad quos perdendos ire statuerat.
Quare correptis armis
secum irent
ut illatas sibi ulciscerentur iniurias:
tunc omnes
praeter duos
sese excusare coeperunt.
Ceteris igitur repudiatis,
illos tantum duos
in amicorum numero habuit,
quos deinde singulari amore prosecutus est.
Haec indicat fabula
adversam fortunam
amicitiae experimentum esse quam optimum.


Translation:



There was a certain man, quite rich and generous, who had a great abundance of friends whom he regularly invited to dinner, to which those friends most willingly came. Wanted to test whether they would be faithful to him in difficulties and angers, he summoned them, each and all, and told them that there were enemies who had risen against him, against whom he had decided to proceed in order to destroy them, for which reason he needed his friends to take up arms and go with him so that the injuries he had suffered could be avenged; at that point, all except for two of his friends began to make excuses. Therefore, having rejected ther est, he counted these two men only among his friends, and he dedicated to them from that point on an exceptional devotion. This fable shows that bad luck is the best possible trial of friendship.



[This translation is meant as a help in understanding the story, not as a "crib" for the Latin. I have not hesitated to change the syntax to make it flow more smoothly in English, altering the verb tense consistently to narrative past tense, etc.]



Source: Abstemius 85 (You can see a 1499 edition of Abstemius online, but I am doing my transcription from the 1568 edition of Aesopi fabulae in the EEBO catalog.)



Another English translation. Sir Roger L'Estrange included the fables of Abstemius in his amazing 17th-century edition of Aesop's fables. So, here is L'Estrange's translation:



There was a generous Rich Man, that kept a Splendid and an Open Table, and consequently never wanted Guests. This Person found all People came to him promiscuously, and a Curiosity took him in the Head to try which of them were Friends, and which only Trencher-Flies and Spungers. So he took an occasion one Day, at a Full Table, to tell them of a Quarrel he had, and that he was just then going to demand Satisfaction. There must be so many to so many, and he made no doubt, but they'd stand by him with their Swords in their Hands. they all excus'd themselves save only Two; which Two he reckon'd upon as his Friends, and all the rest no better than Hangers-on.
We may talk of many Friends; but not One Man of a Thousand will stand the Test.

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