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Fable of the Day: De accipitribus et columbis

Title: De accipitribus inter se inimicis quos columbae pacaverant: About the hawks who were enemies whom the doves pacified, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Accipitres invicem inimici quotidie decertabant, suisque odiis occupati, alias aves minime infestabant. Columbae illorum vicem dolentes, eos missis legatis composuere. Sed illi, ubi inter se amici effecti sunt, ceteras aves imbecilliores et maxime columbas vexare et occidere non desinebant. Tunc secum columbae: quam utilior accipitrum discordia quam concordia nobis erat. Haec monet fabula malorum inter se civium odia alenda potius quam extinguenda, ut dum inter se digladiantur, viros bonos quiete vivere permittant.


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



Accipitres invicem inimici

quotidie decertabant,
suisque odiis occupati,
alias aves minime infestabant.
Columbae
illorum vicem dolentes,
eos missis legatis composuere.
Sed illi,
ubi inter se amici effecti sunt,
ceteras aves imbecilliores
et maxime columbas
vexare et occidere non desinebant.
Tunc secum columbae:
quam utilior accipitrum discordia
quam concordia nobis erat.
Haec monet fabula
malorum inter se civium odia alenda
potius quam extinguenda,
ut dum inter se digladiantur,
viros bonos quiete vivere permittant.


Translation:



There were some hawks who were enemies; they fought with each other every day, obsessed with their mutual hatred, and didn't bother the other birds at all. The doves, feeling badly about the plight of the hawks, decided to send out ambassadors in order to make peace between the hawks. But the hawks, when they were became friendly with one another, did not stop attacking and killing the other, weaker birds, the doves most of all. Then the doves said to themselves: The disagreement among the hawks was so much more advantageous for us than their agreement! This fable warns us that mutual hatreds among the wicked citizens should be stirred up rather than put out, so that while the wicked citizens fight amongst themselves, they might allow the good folk to live in peace and quiet.



[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 96 (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 happen'd a Bloody Civil War once among the Hawks; and what did the poor peaceable, innocent Pigeons, but in pure Pity, and good Nature, send their Deputies and mediators to do the best they could to make 'em Friends again: So long as this Feud lasted, they were so intent upon killing one another, that they minded nothing else; but no sooner was the Quarrel taken up among themselves, than they fell to their old Sport again of Destroying the Pigeons. This brought them to a Sight of their Error, and to understand the Danger of uniting a Common Enemy to their own Ruin.
Good Men are never safe but when Wicked Men are at Odds. So that the Divisions of the One, are the Security of the Other.

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