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Title: De Avibus plures reges eligere volentibus: The Birds wanting to elect more kings, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Aves consultabant de pluribus regibus eligendis cum aquila tantos volucrum greges sola regere non posset fecissentque voto satis nisi cornicis monitu a tali consilio destituissent. Quae cum causa rogaretur cur non plures reges duceret eligendos, quia difficilius, inquit, plures quam unus saccus implentur. Haec fabula docet longe melius ab uno quam a multis principibus gubernari.


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



Aves consultabant
de pluribus regibus eligendis
cum aquila
tantos volucrum greges
sola regere non posset
fecissentque voto satis
nisi cornicis monitu
a tali consilio destituissent.
Quae cum causa rogaretur
cur non plures reges duceret eligendos,
quia difficilius, inquit,
plures
quam unus saccus
implentur.
Haec fabula docet
longe melius
ab uno quam a multis principibus
gubernari.

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



Translation:



The birds were deliberating about whether they should elect additional kings, since the eagle along was not able to rule so many flocks of birds. They would have voted in favor, except that at the warning of the crow they stopped short of adopting the plan: for when the crow was asked for what reason she did not think that more kings ought to be elected, she said, "Because it is more effort for many sacks to be filled than just one." This fable shows that it is better by far to be governed by one chief, than by many.



[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 59 (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 Birds were mightily possess'd with an Opinion, that it was utterly impossible for the Eagle alone to administer Equal Justice to all her Subjects; And upon this ground, there was a Motion put up, for Changing the Monarchy into a Republick: But an old cunning Crow that saw further into a Millstone then his Neighbours, with One Word of his Mouth dash'd the Project. The more Kings you have, says he, the more Sacks there are to be filled: And so the Debate fell.
The Common People hate all Government, and when they are sick of it in One Form, they fly to Another; but still they rather incline to That, which they fancy Easiest to Themselves.



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