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Title: De Mure, qui cum fele amicitiam contrahere volebat: The Mouse who wanted to make friends with the cat, by Abstemius


Latin Text:



Mures complures in cavo parietis commorantes contemplabantur felem, quae in tabulato capite demisso et tristi vultu recumbebat. Tunc unus ex eis: Hoc animal, inquit, benignum admodum et mite videtur. Vultu enim ipso sanctimoniam quandam praefert, volo ipsum alloqui et cum eo indissolubilem nectere amicitiam. Quae cum dixisset et propius accessisset, a fele captus et dilaceratus est. Tunc ceteri hoc videntes secum dicebant: non est profecto, non est vultui temere credendum. Haec fabula innuit, non ex vultu, sed ex operibus homines iudicandos, cum sub ovili pelle saepe atroces lupi delitescant.


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



Mures complures
in cavo parietis commorantes
contemplabantur felem,
quae in tabulato
capite demisso et tristi vultu
recumbebat.
Tunc unus ex eis:
Hoc animal, inquit,
benignum admodum et mite videtur.
Vultu enim ipso
sanctimoniam quandam praefert,
volo ipsum alloqui
et cum eo
indissolubilem nectere amicitiam.
Quae cum dixisset
et propius accessisset,
a fele captus et dilaceratus est.
Tunc ceteri
hoc videntes
secum dicebant:
non est profecto,
non est vultui temere credendum.
Haec fabula innuit,
non ex vultu,
sed ex operibus homines iudicandos,
cum sub ovili pelle
saepe atroces lupi delitescant.

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



Translation:



There were many mice dwelling in a hole in the wall. They observed a cat who was lying on the floor, its head hanging low and with a sad expression on its face. Then one of the mice said: This creature seems to be quite harmless and gentle, for by its very expression it displays such a distinct purity of mind. I want to speak to him, and to contract an unbreakable bond of friendship with him. When the mouse had thus spoken and approached closer, he was seized by the cat and torn into pieces. Then the rest of the mice, when they saw this, said to one another: No, indeed, you cannot rashly put your trust in someone's looks. This fable shows that people are to be judged by their actions, not by their appearance, since often there are ravening wolves that lurk in sheep's clothing.



[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 67 (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:



As a Company of Mice were peeping out of their Holes for Discovery, they spy'd a Cat upon a Shelf; that lay and look'd so demurely, as if there had been neither Life nor Soul in her. Well (says one of the Mice) That's a good natur'd Creature, I'll warrant her; One may read it in her very Looks; and truly I have the greatest mind in the World to make an Acquaintance with her. So said, and so done; but as soon as ever Puss had her within reach, she gave her to understand, that the Face is not always the Index of the Mind.
'Tis a hard Matter for a Man to be Honest and Safe: for his very Charity and good Nature Exposes, if it does not Betray him.



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