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Title: De Ulmo et Silere: The Elm and The Willow, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Ulmus in ripa fluminis nata, siler sibi proximum irridebat ut debile et invalidum quod ad omnem vel levissimum undarum impetum flecteretur, suam autem firmitatem et robur magnificis extollebat at verbis quod multos annos assiduos amnis impetus inconcussa pertulerat. Semel autem maxima undarum violentia ulmus perfracta trahebatur ab aquis, cui siler ridens inquit: Cur me deseris, vicina? Ubi est nunc fortitudo tua? Fabula significat sapientores esse qui potentioribus cedunt quam qui resistere volentes turpiter superantur.


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



Ulmus
in ripa fluminis nata,
siler
sibi proximum
irridebat
ut debile et invalidum
quod
ad omnem vel levissimum undarum impetum
flecteretur,
suam autem firmitatem et robur
magnificis extollebat at verbis
quod
multos annos
assiduos amnis impetus
inconcussa pertulerat.
Semel autem
maxima undarum violentia
ulmus perfracta
trahebatur ab aquis,
cui siler ridens inquit:
Cur me deseris, vicina?
Ubi est nunc fortitudo tua?
Fabula significat
sapientores esse
qui potentioribus cedunt
quam
qui
resistere volentes
turpiter superantur.

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



Translation:



An elm tree sprang up on the bank of a river, and the elm tree mocked the willow tree who was her neighbor for being weak and feeble, as it bent with every surge of the water, no matter how light, while the elm tree praised her own stoutness and strength with extravagant words, because for many years the elm tree had remained unshaken by even the most persistent movement of the stream. On one occasion, however, the elm tree snapped from the tremendous violence of the waves and as she was being dragged along by the waters the willow tree laughed and said: Why are you abandoning me, neighbor? Where is your stoutness now? The fable shows that the people how give way to powerful people are wiser than those who suffer a shameful defeat by trying to resist.



[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 53 (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, but this is a fable he skipped over, perhaps because he found it was too similar to the traditional Aesop's fable about the oak and the reed.



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