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Fable of the Day: De Carduele et Puero

Title: De Carduele et Puero: The Goldfinch and The Boy, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Carduelis avis interrogata a puero, a quo in deliciis habita, et suavibus et largis cibis nutrita fuerat, cur caveam egressa ingredi nollet: "Ut meo (inquit) me arbitratu, non tuo, pascere possim." Haec fabula indicat vitae libertatem cunctis deliciis anteponendam.


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



Carduelis avis
interrogata a puero,
a quo
in deliciis habita,
et suavibus et largis cibis
nutrita fuerat,
cur caveam egressa
ingredi nollet:
"Ut meo (inquit) me arbitratu,
non tuo,
pascere possim."
Haec fabula indicat
vitae libertatem
cunctis deliciis anteponendam.

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



Translation:



A goldfinch was questioned by the boy by whom she was kept in luxury and by whom she was fed on tasty and abundant food. He wanted to know why having gotten out of her cage she did not want to come back in. The goldinch answered: So that I might feed myself based at my own power, not yours." This fable shows that life's liberty is to be preferred to luxuries.



[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 43 (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:



A Goldfinch gave his Master the slip out of the Cage, and he did what he could to get him back again, but he would not come. Well! says the Boy, you'll have to repent it: for you'll never be so well look'd to in any other Place. That may very well be, says the Bird; but however, I had rather be at my Own Keeping than at Yours.
Never well, Full nor Fasting.



I was really struck by the inappropriateness of L'Estrange's moral to the story, as if the goldfinch were some kind of malcontent! I thought the goldfinch was completely in the right here, so I checked on L'Estrange's further commentary on the story, and here is what I found. L'Estrange is using the fable to make a point that is really not to be found in the fable, and he more or less admits that - it's a very good point, and one that I agree with... but it is not the point of the story that Abstemius tells:
Meat, Drink and Ease can never make any Man Happy that wants his Liberty. No, nor any Man that has it neither; for we are never Well, either with much or Little. Whatever we Have, we Want something else, and so go on Wanting and Craving, till Death takes us off in the Middle of our Longings. He that's a Pris'ner, is Troubled that he cannot go whither he Would. And He that's at Large, is as much Troubled that he does not know whether to Go. The One Stands still; and the Other Loses his Way. Now 'tis not Necessity, but Opinion, that makes People Miserable, and when we come once to be Fancy-Sick, there's No Cure for't. A Man may have his Heels at Liberty, and yet be a Slave to Impotent Affections and Troubled Thoughts. But This is not, upon any Terms, to Undervalue the Blessing of a Natural Freedom; and the Goldfinch was Undoubtedly in the Right, when he was once out of the Cage, not to be Whistled back again, if it had not been that he carry'd his Snare along with him.
[Note: You can find more of these fables at the old blog address for Latin Via Fables.]
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Views: 27

Comment by Peter Sipes on July 20, 2007 at 4:25pm
Cool. I like this one.
Comment by Laura Gibbs on July 20, 2007 at 4:46pm
Thanks, Peter! It makes me wish I had more time for all of this - L'Estrange is so fascinating in his own right, and he has sermons like this for ALL the fables - there are often really different wants to "take" a fable, and this time L'Estrange really surprised me.

Just a coincidence, but one of the audio proverbs I had today was: in cavea non canit luscinia.

:-)

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