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Fable of the Day: Formica et columba (Osius)

Title: Formica et columba: Ant and Dove by Hieronymus Osius (1575). For parallel versions, see Perry 235.

Se liquidi Formica lubens demittit in undas
Fonticuli, cupiens forte levare sitim.
Undis ablatam sed dira pericula tangunt,
Paene, pedes dum nil falciat, illa perit.
Vidit ut hoc, viridem defringit ab arbore ramum,
Deicit hunc illi, fertque Palumbus opem.
Servat adhaerescens ramo sic anxia vitam,
Fontanis alias quae periisset aquis.
Tempore post parvo, qui falleret, adfuit Auceps,
Hanc ipsam calamis insidiatus avem.
Cui metuens Formica volens avertere mortem
Clam subit arrepens aucupis inter opus.
Sic quem laesit, ut huic mox abiceretur harundo,
Hoc strepitu letum territa vitat avis.
Res pia pro meritis est grata mente probari,
Praestando studii convenientis opus.

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

Formica lubens demittit se
in undas liquidi fonticuli,
cupiens forte levare sitim,
sed dira pericula tangunt
Formicam ablatam undis:
dum nil falciat pedes,
illa paene perit.
Ut vidit hoc,
defringit viridem ramum ab arbore,
deicit hunc illi
et fert opem.
Sic anxia Formica servat vitam
adhaerescens ramo,
quae alias periisset fontanis aquis.
Tempore parvo post,
Auceps adfuit
qui falleret insidiatus calamis hanc ipsam avem,
Formica metuens,
volens avertere mortem Palumbo,
clam subit arrepens inter opus aucupis.
Sic Aucupem laesit,
ut mox huic harundo abiceretur;
avis vitat letum
territa hoc strepitu.
Res pia est probari grata mente pro meritis,
praestando opus convenientis studii.


An Ant gladly let herself down into the waves of a tiny spring of water, wanting perhaps to alleviate her thirst, but terrible dangers threatened the Ant when she was borne away by the waves: when she lost her footing, she almost died. When the Dove saw this, he broke off a leafy branch from a tree and threw it down to the Ant and helped her. Thus the worried Ant preserved her life by clinging to the branch; otherwise she would have died in the spring's waters. A little while later, a Bird-Catcher came who was going to trick that same bird by laying a trap for her with his reeds. The Ant was afraid and wanted to rescue the Dove from death; she secretly crept up in the midst of the Bird-Catcher's work and when the Ant bit the Bird-Catcher, he suddenly cast aside his reeds and the bird evaded death, terrified by the Bird-Catcher's shout. It is a good to be shown to have a grateful attitude towards acts of kindness, doing something in return with an equal amount of effort.

[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 from the 1575 edition (larger view):

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