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Fable of the Day: De vulpe, cane et lepore

Title: De vulpe carnem leporis cani laudante: About the fox who told the dog how good the rabbit's flesh was, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Vulpes, cum fugaretur a cane, et iamiam esset capienda, nec ullam aliam evadendi viam invenire se posse cognosceret: Quid me, inquit, O canis, perdere cupis, cuius caro tibi usui esse non potest? Cape potius leporem illum (non procul enim lepus aberat) cuius carnem suavissimam mortales esse commemorant. Canis igitur motus consilio vulpis, omissa vulpe, leporem insecutus est, quem tamen ob incredibilem eius velocitatem capere non potuit. Paucis post diebus lepus, conveniens vulpem, vehementer eam accusabat (verba enim eius audierat) quod se cani demonstrasset. Cui vulpes: Quid me accusas, lepus, quae tantopere te laudavi. Quid diceres, si me vituperassem? Haec indicat fabula multos mortales sub laudationis specie aliis perniciem machinari.


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



Vulpes,

cum fugaretur a cane,
et iamiam esset capienda,
nec ullam aliam evadendi viam invenire
se posse cognosceret:
Quid me, inquit, O canis, perdere cupis,
cuius caro tibi usui esse non potest?
Cape potius leporem illum
(non procul enim lepus aberat)
cuius carnem
suavissimam mortales esse commemorant.
Canis igitur
motus consilio vulpis,
omissa vulpe,
leporem insecutus est,
quem tamen
ob incredibilem eius velocitatem
capere non potuit.
Paucis post diebus
lepus,
conveniens vulpem,
vehementer eam accusabat
(verba enim eius audierat)
quod se cani demonstrasset.
Cui vulpes:
Quid me accusas, lepus,
quae tantopere te laudavi.
Quid diceres,
si me vituperassem?
Haec indicat fabula
multos mortales
sub laudationis specie
aliis perniciem machinari.


Translation:



A fox was fleeing from a dog, and was just about to be caught and saw that she could not find any other means of escaping, so she said to the dog: "O dog, why do you want to destroy me, whose meat cannot be of any use to you? Go catch that rabbit instead (for there was a rabbit not far off), whose flesh is said by mortal men to be the sweetest." So the dog, spurred by the fox's advice, let the fox go and chased the rabbit, but he could not catch the rabbit on account of the incredible speed of the rabbit's feet. A few days later the rabbit ran into the fox and bitterly denounced her (for the rabbit had heard what the fox had said) because she had pointed him out to the dog. The fox replied: Why are you accusing me, rabbit, since I praised you so lavishly. What would you say if I had spoken rudely about you?" This fable shows that many people, under the guise of praise, often bring about other people's doom.



[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 86 (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:



As a Dog was pressing hard upon the very Breech of a Fox, up starts a Hare. Pray hold a little, says the Fox, and take that Hare there while she is to be had: You never tasted such a Morsel since you were born: But I am all over tainted and rotten, and a Mouthful of my Flesh would be enough to poison ye. The Dog immediately left the Fox, and took a Course at the Hare; but she was too nimble for him, it seems; and when he saw he could not catch her, he very discreetly let her go. The Hare had heard what pass'd, and meeting the Fox two or three Days after, she told him how basely he had serv'd her. Nay, says the Fox, if you take it so heavily that I spoke well of you, what would you have done if I had spoken ill?
A Design'd Back-Friend is the Worst of Enemies.

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