[Note: You can find more of these fables at the old blog address for Latin Via Fables
: De Quadrupedibus societatem adversus aves cum piscibus ineuntibus: The Four-Footed Animals who made an alliance with the fish against the birds, by Abstemius
Quadrupedes, cum bellum sibi ab avibus esset indictum, cum piscibus foedus inierunt, ut eorum auxilio se ab avium furore tuerentur. Cum autem optata expectarent auxilia, pisces negant per terram ad eos accedere posse. Haec nos admonet fabula ne eos nobis socios faciamus, qui, cum opus sit, nobis adesse non possint.
Here is a segmented version to help you see the grammatical patterns:
sibi ab avibus esset indictum,
cum piscibus foedus inierunt,
ut eorum auxilio
ab avium furore tuerentur.
Cum autem optata expectarent auxilia,
per terram ad eos accedere posse.
Haec nos admonet fabula
ne eos nobis socios faciamus,
cum opus sit,
nobis adesse non possint.
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The four-footed beasts, when war was declared upon them by the birds, entered into a treaty with the fish, so that they would be protected from the wrath of the birds with the help of the fish. When they waited for the hoped-for assistance, the fish said that they were not able to come to the beasts on the land. This fable warns us that we should not make our allies those who are not able to be with us when there is need of their help.
[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.
: Abstemius 21 (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
The Beasts enter'd into a League with the Fishes against the Birds. The War was declar'd; but the Fishes, instead of their Quota, send their Excuse, that they were not able to march by Land.
The Vanity of helpless Alliance.
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