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Fable of the Day: De aquila filios cuniculi rapiente

Title: De aquila filios cuniculi rapiente: About the eagle abducting the rabbit's children, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Aquila in altissima arbore nidulata, catulos cuniculi, qui longe illic pascebantur, in escam pullorum suorum rapuerat, quam cuniculus blandis orabat verbis, ut suos sibi filios restituere dignaretur. At illa eum, ut pusillum et terrestre animal et ad sibi nocendum impotens, arbitrata, eos in conspectu matris unguibus dilacerare, et pullis suis epulandos apponere non dubitavit. Tunc cuniculus filiorum morte commotus, hanc iniuriam minime impunitam abire permisit: arborem enim, quae nidum sustinebat, radicitus effodit. Quae levi impulsu ventorum procidens, pullos aquilae adhuc implumes et involucres in humum deiecit, qui, a feris depasti, magnum doloris solatium cuniculo praebuerunt. Haec indicat fabula neminem potentia sua fretum imbecilliores debere despicere, cum aliquando infirmiores potentiorum iniurias ulciscantur.


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



Aquila

in altissima arbore nidulata,
catulos cuniculi,
qui longe illic pascebantur,
in escam pullorum suorum rapuerat,
quam
cuniculus blandis orabat verbis,
ut suos sibi filios restituere dignaretur.
At illa
eum,
ut pusillum et terrestre animal
et ad sibi nocendum impotens,
arbitrata,
eos in conspectu matris unguibus dilacerare
et pullis suis epulandos apponere
non dubitavit.
Tunc cuniculus
filiorum morte commotus,
hanc iniuriam
minime impunitam abire permisit:
arborem enim,
quae nidum sustinebat,
radicitus effodit.
Quae
levi impulsu ventorum procidens,
pullos aquilae
adhuc implumes et involucres
in humum deiecit,
qui,
a feris depasti,
magnum doloris solatium
cuniculo praebuerunt.
Haec indicat fabula
neminem
potentia sua fretum
imbecilliores debere despicere,
cum aliquando infirmiores
potentiorum iniurias ulciscantur.



Translation:



An eagle, who had made her nest up in a very high tree, grabbed some baby rabbits, who had been feeding in th emeadow a long ways off, to give them as food to her own chicks. The rabbit begged the eagle with gentle words to be so kind as to return the baby rabbits. But the eagle, supposing that the rabbit was a weak, earth-bound creature who was unable to do her any harm, did not hesitate to slash the baby rabbits with her talons, in full view of their mother, and to give them to her chicks to feast upon. Then the rabbit, stricken by the death of her babies, absolutely refused to let this wrong go unpunished, and so the rabbit dug away at the roots of the tree which held up the eagle's nest. The tree, toppled by a light rustle of the wind, hurled the eagle's chicks, still without feathers and unable to fly, down to the ground where they were gobbled up by wild beasts, and thus offered a great consolation to the rabbit's grief. This fable shows no one, trusting in his own power, should despise those who are weaker than they are, since sometimes those who are less powerful can get revenge for the wrongs done to them by the more powerful.



[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 81 (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: You will see this is one of his more boisterous translations/adaptations! I really like the bit about Pharaoh in the moral at the end of the story.



There was an Eagle that drew a Nest of Rabbets, and carry'd them away to her Young. The Mother-Coney follow-d her with Tears in her Eyes, adjuring her in the Name of all those Powers, that take care of the Innocent and Oppressed, to have Compassion upon her miserable Children: But she, in an Outrage of Pride and Indignation, tears them presently to Pieces. The Coney, upon this, convenes a whole Warren; tells her Story, and advises upon a Revenge: For Divine Justice (says she) will never suffer so barbarous a Cruelty to escape unpunish'd. They debated the Matter, and came to an Unanimous Resolve upon the Question, that there was no Way of paying the Eagle in her kind, but by Undermining the Tree where she Timber'd. So they all fell to work at the Roots of the Tree, and left it so little Foot-hold, that the first Blast of Wind laid if Flat upon the Ground, Nest, Eagles and all. Some of 'em were kill'd by the Fall; Others were eaten up by Birds and Beasts of Prey, and the Coney had the Comfort at last, of destroying the Eagle's Children in Revenge for her Own.
'Tis highly Imprudent, even in the Greatest of Men, unnecessarily to provoke the Meanest, when the Pride of Pharaoh himself was brought down by miserable Frogs and Lice.

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