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Fable of the Day: De Scurra et Episcopo

Title: De Scurra et Episcopo: The Joker and The Bishop , by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Scurra quidam calendis Ianuarii ad Episcopum quendam divitem sed avarum accedens, numisma aureum strenae nomine petiit. Antistes insanire hominem dixit, qui crederet tantam pecuniam sibi in strenam dari. Tunc scurra nummum argentum efflagitare coepit, sed cum ille hoc quoque nimium sibi videri diceret, aereum quadrantem ut saltem sibi traderet orabat. Sed cum ne hunc quoque posset ab episcopo extorquere, "Reverende (inquit) pater, saltem benedictione tua me pro strena imperti." Tunc Episcopus: "Flecte (inquit) genua, fili, ut te benedicam." "At ego, inquit scurra, benedictionem istam tam vilem nolo. Si enim nummum aereum valeret, eam mihi nunquam profecto concederes." Haec fabula contra eos Episcopos et Sacerdotes conficta est, qui divitias et opes pluris faciunt quam cuntae Ecclesiae sacra et mysteria.


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



Scurra quidam
calendis Ianuarii
ad Episcopum quendam
divitem sed avarum
accedens,
numisma aureum
strenae nomine
petiit.
Antistes
insanire hominem
dixit,
qui crederet
tantam pecuniam
sibi in strenam dari.
Tunc scurra
nummum argentum efflagitare
coepit,
sed
cum ille
hoc quoque nimium sibi videri
diceret,
aereum quadrantem
ut saltem sibi traderet
orabat.
Sed cum ne hunc quoque
posset
ab episcopo extorquere,
"Reverende (inquit) pater,
saltem benedictione tua
me
pro strena imperti."
Tunc Episcopus:
"Flecte (inquit) genua, fili,
ut te benedicam."
"At ego,
inquit scurra,
benedictionem istam tam vilem
nolo.
Si enim
nummum aereum valeret,
eam
mihi nunquam profecto concederes."
Haec fabula
contra eos Episcopos et Sacerdotes conficta est,
qui divitias et opes pluris faciunt
quam
cuntae Ecclesiae sacra et mysteria.

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



Translation:



A certain joker on New Year's Day approached a certain bishop, who was rich by stingy. The joker asked the bishop for a gold coin as a New Year's gift. The bishop said that the man was mad if he believed that so much money would be given to him as a New Year's gift. Then the joker began to ask for a silver coin, but when the bishop said that this also seemed to him to be too much, the man begged him to hand over just a copper farthing at least. But when he was not able to extort this from the bishop either, he said, "Reverend father, at least bestow your blessing upon me for a New Year's gift." Then the bishop said, "Bend your knees, my son, so that I may bless you." The joker replied, "But I don't want that worthless blessing of yours anyway. If it were worth even so much as a copper coin, you in fact would never even bestow it on me." This fable is devised against those bishops and priests who make more of riches and wealth than of the rites and mysteries of the entire church.



[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 44 (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 Roguy Wag of a Droll that had a Mind once to put a Trick upon a Hard, Close-fisted Bishop: so he went to him upon the First of January to Wish him a Merry New Year on't, and begg'd a Five-Guinea Piece of him for a New-Years-Gift. Why, the Man's Mad (says the Prelate) and I believe he takes me to be so too. Dost think I have so little Wit, as to part with such a God of Money for a God-a-Mercy? Nay, my Lord (says the Fellow) if That be too much, let it be but a Single George, and I'll be Thankful for't; But That would not do Neither. He fell next Bout to a Copper Farthing, and was Deny'd That too. When the Fellow saw that there was no Money to be got, Pray (my Lord, says he) let me beg your Blessing then. With all my Heart (says the Bishop) Down on your Knees, and You shall have it: No, My Lord (says T'other) 'tis My Turn now to Deny; for if You Your self had thought that Blessing worth a Copper Farthing, you'd never have Parted with it.
No Penny, no Pater Noster, does not hold in All Cases, for the Penny and the Pater Noster do not go always together.
[Note: You can find more of these fables at the old blog address for Latin Via Fables.]
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