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Title: De Ariete cum tauro pugnante: The Ram Who Fought The Bull, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Aries quidam inter lanigeros erat, tanta cornuum et capitis firmitate ut ceteros arietes statim facileque superaret. Quare cum nullum amplius arietem inveniret qui occursanti sibi auderet obsistere, crebris elatus victoriis taurum ausus est ad certamen provocare. Sed primo congressu, cum in taurinam frontem arietasset, tam atroci ictu repercussus est ut fere moriens haec diceret: Stultus ego quid egi? cur tam potentem adversarium ausus sum lacessere, cui me imparem creavit natura? Fabula indicat cum potentioribus non esse decertandum.


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



Aries quidam
inter lanigeros erat,
tanta cornuum et capitis firmitate
ut ceteros arietes
statim facileque superaret.
Quare
cum nullum amplius arietem inveniret
qui occursanti sibi auderet obsistere,
crebris elatus victoriis
taurum ausus est ad certamen provocare.
Sed primo congressu,
cum in taurinam frontem arietasset,
tam atroci ictu repercussus est
ut fere moriens haec diceret:
Stultus ego quid egi?
cur tam potentem adversarium
ausus sum lacessere,
cui me imparem creavit natura?
Fabula indicat
cum potentioribus
non esse decertandum.

Crossword Puzzle: You can play a Crossword Puzzle based on the vocabulary in this fable!

Translation:



There was a certain ram amongst the sheep whose horns and head were so strong that he was immediately and quickly able to overcome the other rams. As a result, when he could not find any other ram who would dare to stand up to his attack, he became overjoyed with his numerous victories and dared to summon a bull to do battle with him. But at their first encounter, when the ram "rammed" into the bull's head, he was struck by such a savage blow that he was almost killed, and he said: "What have I gone and done, idiot that I am? Why did I dare to attack such a mighty adversary, to whom I am not equal by nature?" The fable shows that we should not pick fights with people stronger than we are!



[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 79 (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 was one Master-Ram that beat all his Fellows out of the Field, and was so puff'd up with the Glory of his Exploits, that nothing would serve him but he must challenge a Bull to the Combat. They met, and upon the First Encounter, there lay the Ram for Dead; but coming to himself again; Well (says he) This is the Fruit of my Insolence and Folly, in provoking an Enemy, that Nature has made my Superior.
Where People will be Provoking and Challenging their Superiors, either in Strength, or Power, 'tis not so much a Bravery of Spirits, as a Rude and Brutal Rashness; and they pay dear for't at last.



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