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Fable of the Day: Passer ad Leporem (Phaedrus)

Title: Passer ad Leporem: The Sparrow to the Rabbit, by Phaedrus. For parallel versions, see Perry 473.

Sibi non cavere et aliis consilium dare
stultum esse paucis ostendamus versibus.
Oppressum ab aquila, fletus edentem graves,
leporem obiurgabat passer "Ubi pernicitas
nota" inquit "illa est? Quid ita cessarunt pedes?"
Dum loquitur, ipsum accipiter necopinum rapit
questuque vano clamitantem interficit.
Lepus semianimus "Mortis en solacium:
qui modo securus nostra inridebas mala,
simili querella fata deploras tua".

Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:

Ostendamus paucis versibus
stultum esse non cavere sibi
et dare consilium aliis:
Passer obiurgabat leporem,
oppressum ab aquila, edentem fletus graves,
et inquit: "Ubi illa nota pernicitas est?
Quid pedes ita cessarunt?"
Dum loquitur,
accipiter rapit passerem necopinum
et interficit ipsum clamitantem vano questu.
Lepus semianimus:
"En: solacium mortis!
Qui modo securus inridebas nostra mala,
deploras fata tua simili querella."


Let us show in a few lines of poetry that it is a stupid thing to not watch out for oneself while giving advice to others. A sparrow scolded a rabbit who had been caught by an eagle and who was sobbing loudly; the sparrow said to him: "Where is that famous speed of yours? Why have your feet thus stopped running?" While the sparrow was speaking, a hawk seized him, unawares, and killed him while he shouted out his useless protest. The half-dead rabbit said: "Aha: a comfort in my dying! Carefree, you were just now making fun of our troubles but now you are bewailing your fate with a complaint similar to mine."

[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.]


Here is an illustration by Samuel Howitt:

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