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Title: De Viro Zelotypo, qui uxorem dederat custodiendam: The Jealous Husband, who handed over his wife for safe-keeping, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Vir Zelotypus uxorem, quam parum pudice vivere compererat, cuidam amico, cui plurimum fidebat, dederat custodiendam, ingentem pollicitus pecuniam, si eam ita diligenter observaret, ut nullo modo coniugalem violaret copulam. At ille, ubi aliquot dies expertus custodiam hanc nimis difficilem et ingenium suum versutia mulieris vinci comperisset, ad maritum accedens, dixit se amplius nolle hanc tam duram gerere provinciam, quandoquidem ne Argus quidem, qui totus oculatus fuit, mulierem invitam posset custodire. Addidit praetera, si necesse fit, malle se anno integro saccum plenum pulicibus quotidie in pratum deferre, solutoque sacco, eos inter herbas pascere, vespereque facto, omnes domum reducere, quam una die impudicam mulierem servare. Haec fabula indicat, nullos custodes ita esse diligentes, qui impudicas mulieres valeant custodire.


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



Vir Zelotypus
uxorem,
quam
parum pudice vivere
compererat,
cuidam amico,
cui plurimum fidebat,
dederat custodiendam,
ingentem pollicitus pecuniam,
si eam ita diligenter observaret,
ut nullo modo
coniugalem violaret copulam.
At ille,
ubi aliquot dies expertus
custodiam hanc nimis difficilem
et ingenium suum
versutia mulieris vinci
comperisset,
ad maritum accedens,
dixit
se
amplius nolle
hanc tam duram gerere provinciam, quandoquidem
ne Argus quidem,
qui totus oculatus fuit,
mulierem invitam posset custodire.
Addidit praetera,
si necesse fit,
malle
se
anno integro
saccum plenum pulicibus
quotidie in pratum deferre,
solutoque sacco,
eos inter herbas pascere,
vespereque facto,
omnes domum reducere,
quam una die
impudicam mulierem servare.
Haec fabula indicat,
nullos custodes
ita esse diligentes,
qui
impudicas mulieres
valeant custodire.

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



Translation:



A jealous man had discovered that his wife was living a life of little modesty. He gave her for safe-keeping to a certain friend of his, whom he trusted completely, and he promised the man a huge sum of money if the man would keep such a strict watch on his wife that she would in no way be able to be unfaithful to her husband. But the friend, after he had tried this for a few days, discovered that this keeping watch was far too difficult for him, and that his own ingenuity was outdone by the craftiness of the woman. He went to the husband and said that he no longer wanted to carry out such a hard assignment, since not even Argus, who was covered all over with eyes, would be able to keep watch over an unwilling woman. He added, moreover, that if it had to be, he would rather spend an entire year carrying a bag full of fleas out into the meadow every day, opening the bag and letting the fleas feed among the grass and then, when evening came, bringing all the fleas back home. That would be preferable to a single day of trying to keep watch over a shameless woman. This fable shows that no guards are so diligent as to be able to guard women who are shameless.



[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 62 (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:



A Jealous Husband committed his Wife in Confidence to the Care and Custody of a Particular Friend; with the Promise of a Considerable Reward if he could but keep her Honest. After some Few Days, the Friend grew weary of his Charge, and Desir'd her Husband to take his Wife Home again, and Release him of his Bargain; for says he, I find it utterly impossible to Hinder a Woman from any thing she has a Mind to. If it were to turn a Bag of Fleas Loose into a Meadow every Morning a Grazing, and Fetch them Home again at Night, I durst be answerable with my Life for the Doing of it, to a single Flea, but T'other is a Commission I dare go no further in.
'Tis enough to make a Woman a Whore, but so much as to Phansy her One, and then 'tis to no Boot to be Jealous neither; for if the Humour takes her to be jadish, 'tis not All the Locks, Bolts and Spies in Nature that can keep her Honest.



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