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Fable of the Day: Herus et Canes (Osius)

Title: Herus et canes: The Master and The Dogs, by Hieronymus Osius (1575). For parallel versions, see Perry 52.


Tempestate domi quidam cogente latebat
Rusticus, haec ergo longa quod esset hiems:
Et mactavit Oves, et quorum servit aratro
Robur, ut inde cibos comparet ille, Boves.
Illa Canes fieri cauti cum forte viderent,
Moliri celerem constituere fugam.
Posse viderentur quod non sperare salutem
Hic, ubi non essent corpora tuta Boum.
Quorum conveniens tamen usibus esset arandi,
Quo sint assidue rura colenda, labor.
Saevitiam quorum vitare domestica nescit
Turba, tuum inprimis esse cavere putes.

Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:

Tempestate cogente,
quidam Rusticus latebat domi
ergo quod haec hiems esset longa
et mactavit Oves
et mactavit Boves, quorum robur servit aratro,
ut inde ille comparet cibos.
Cum Canes cauti forte viderent illa fieri,
constituere moliri celerem fugam,
quod viderentur non posse sperare salutem hic,
ubi corpora Boum non essent tuta,
tamen Boum labor conveniens esset usibus arandi,
quo rura colenda sint assidue.
Putes esse inprimis tuum cavere
quorum saevitiam
domestica turba nescit vitare.

Audio: You can listen to an audio reading for this poem at AudioLatin.com.


Compelled by stormy weather, a certain Farmer stayed at home, thus because the winter was so long, he slaughtered both his Sheep and also his Oxen, whose strength served the plough, in order that he could get food from them. When the cautious Dogs happened to see that this had been done, they decided to prepare a swift escape, because they seemed unable to hope for safety in this place where the bodies of the Oxen were not safe, even though the work of the Oxen was required for the act of ploughing, which was constantly needed for cultivating the fields. You need to know that it is up to you in particular to avoid those people whose violence even their own family members cannot escape.

[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.]


Here is an illustration from the 1575 edition; click on the image for a larger view.

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