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[Note: You can find more of these fables at the old blog address for Latin Via Fables.]

Title
: De Heremita virgine aegrotante: The Virgin-Hermit Who Fell Ill, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Insitum est a natura omni animantium generi, ut rei Venereae libidine incitentur, a qua si qui homines, qui corvo albo rariores sunt, abstinere volunt, saepe in graves morbos incidere solent. Quidam igitur heremita ab ipsa adolescentia titillationes carnis evicerat, ut usque ad quintum et vigesimum aetatis annum virgo permaneret. Cum autem in eam aetatem gravissime aegrotare coepisset, medici nullum aliud salutis eius remedium se invenire dicebant, nisi ut cum aliqua muliere coiret. Diu heremita recusavit, mori se potius velle dicens, quam virginitatem, rem tam praeclaram et deo maxime gratam, amittere. Assueti enim virtutibus aegre illas a se discedere patiuntur. Victus tandum precibus et cupiditate vitae, qua nihil homini sanae mentis dulcius est, adductae sibi mulieris infusus gremio, placidum petivit per membra soporem. Experrectus autem vehementer angebatur, et tantam vim lacrimarum effundebat, ut omnes, qui adderant, illius misererentur. Quisque igitur eum consolari et ut bono animo esset hortari quoniam Deus clementissimus pater ei ignosceret, qui non voluptatis, sed recuperandae sanitatis causa opus tale patrasset: "At ego (inquit) istud non fleo, sed quo tantam dulcedinem citius expertus non sum." Haec indicat fabula humanam naturam adeo peccatorum illecebris delectari, ut vitiorum voluptatem facile virtutum amaritudini anteponat.


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



Insitum est a natura
omni animantium generi,
ut rei Venereae libidine incitentur,
a qua
si qui homines,
qui corvo albo rariores sunt,
abstinere volunt,
saepe in graves morbos incidere
solent.
Quidam igitur heremita
ab ipsa adolescentia
titillationes carnis evicerat,
ut usque ad quintum et vigesimum aetatis annum
virgo permaneret.
Cum autem in eam aetatem
gravissime aegrotare coepisset,
medici
nullum aliud salutis eius remedium
se invenire
dicebant,
nisi ut cum aliqua muliere coiret.
Diu heremita recusavit,
mori se potius velle
dicens,
quam virginitatem,
rem tam praeclaram
et deo maxime gratam,
amittere.
Assueti enim virtutibus
aegre
illas
a se discedere
patiuntur.
Victus tandum precibus
et cupiditate vitae,
qua nihil
homini sanae mentis
dulcius est,
adductae sibi mulieris
infusus gremio,
placidum petivit per membra soporem.
Experrectus autem
vehementer angebatur,
et tantam vim lacrimarum effundebat,
ut omnes,
qui adderant,
illius misererentur.
Quisque igitur eum consolari
et ut bono animo esset hortari
quoniam
Deus clementissimus pater
ei ignosceret,
qui non voluptatis,
sed recuperandae sanitatis causa
opus tale patrasset:
"At ego (inquit)
istud non fleo,
sed quo
tantam dulcedinem
citius expertus non sum."
Haec indicat fabula
humanam naturam
adeo peccatorum illecebris delectari,
ut vitiorum voluptatem
facile virtutum amaritudini anteponat.

Crossword Puzzle: You can play a crossword puzzle based on the vocabulary in this fable.



Translation:



It is implanted by nature in every type of living creature that they should be aroused by the desire for the business of Venus. If any men want to abstain from this - and they are rarer than white crows - they often are accustomed to fall into a serious illness. Thus a certain holy man, who had conquered the stirrings of the flesh since his boyhood, had remained a virgin all the way until the twenty-fifth year of his life. When, however, at that time he began to be seriously ill, the doctors said they could find no other remedy to restore him to health, except that he should have intercourse with some woman. For a long time the holy man refused, saying that he would rather die than lose his virginity, which was such a splendid thing and most pleasing to God. Well-acquainted with his strength of character, the doctors reluctantly allowed the women go away. In the end, however, he was won over by their requests and by his own desire for life, since for a man of sound mind there is nothing sweeter than life. He was stretched out on the lap of a woman who had been brought to him, and he sought restful sleep for his body. When he got up from bed, he was sorely distressed and poured forth such a strem of tears that everyone who was in attendance felt sorry for him. Each one sought to console him and urged him to be of good cheer, because God, the most merciful Father, would forgive him, since he had done this deed not from pleasure but for the sake of recovery his health. The holy man said, "But that's not what I am crying about! Instead, I am crying because I did not experience such pleasure sooner!" This fable shows that human nature so much enjoys the enticements of sin that it easily prefers the pleasure of vice to the bitterness of virtue.



[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 29 (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 very good Man, that in the Five and twentieth Year of his Age, fell into a desperate Fit of Sickness; the Doctors sat upon him, and the whole College were of opinion, that there was no saving of his Life without the Use of a Woman. The Poor Man lay Humming nad Hawing a good while, betwixt Sin and the Remedy; but in the end, he gave up himself wholly to the Physicians to do with him as they thought fit. Upon this, the Doctors, by Consent, put a good Armful of warm Woman's Flesh into the Bed to him, by way of a Recipe, and so laid him to rest, till about some two Hours after: At which time they came to see how the Prescription had wrought; and there did they find the Poor Religious tearing his Hair, beating his Breast, and groaning as if his very Heart would break. So they fell presently to Reasoning, and Casing upon the Matter with him, and laying comfortable Distinctions before him betwixt the Morality, and the Necessity of what was done. No, no Gentlemen, says he, my Grief is not thereabouts; but it goes to the Heart of me to think how long I have liv'd in Ignorance; and that this Fit of Sickness should never take me sooner.
Flesh is Frail. When a strong Appetite, and a troublesome Virtue meet in Competition, 'tis a hard Matter for a Man to resist the Temptation.

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