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Title: De Cera duritiem appetente: The Wax, seeking to become hard, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Cera ingemiscebat se mollem et cuicumque levissimo ictu penetrabilem procreatam. Videns autem lateres ex luto multo molliori factos in tantam duritiem ignis calore pervenisse ut multa perdurarent saecula, se eiecit in ignem ut eandem duritiem consequeretur. Sed statim igne liquefacta consumpta est. Hac admonemur fabula ne appetamus quod est nobis natura denegatum.


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



Cera ingemiscebat
se
mollem
et cuicumque levissimo ictu penetrabilem
procreatam.
Videns autem lateres
ex luto multo molliori factos
in tantam duritiem
ignis calore pervenisse
ut multa perdurarent saecula,
se eiecit in ignem
ut eandem duritiem consequeretur.
Sed statim igne liquefacta
consumpta est.
Hac admonemur fabula
ne appetamus
quod est nobis natura denegatum.

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



Translation:



The wax groaned that she had been made so soft and able to be pierced by the slightest blow. She saw, however, that bricks were made from mud which was softer than wax by far, yet through the heat of the fire they achieved such a hardness that they could last for many centuries. So the wax cast herself into the fire in order to obtain the same hardness, but immediately she was melted by the fire and disappeared. We are warned by this fable that we should not seek something that is denied to us by nature.



[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 54 (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 a Question started once about Wax and Brick, why the one should be so brittle, and liable to be broken with every Knock, and the other bear up against all Injuries and Weathers, so durable and firm. The Wax philosophiz'd upon the Matter, and finding out at last, that it was Burning made the Brick so hard, cast itself into the Fire, upon an Opinion that Heat would harden the Wax too; but that which Consolidated the one, Dissolv'd the other.
'Tis a Folly to try Conclusions, without understanding the Nature of the Matter in Question.



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