Today's fable is Perry 147, the story of the lion and the bear who were outmaneuvered by the fox. At del.icio.us, you can see a complete list of the versions of this fable type that I have collected. This fable is not found in the classical or medieval Latin traditions, but with the Renaissance and modern periods, it became incorporated into various Latin editions of Aesop.
Here is the version from the Renaissance poet, Candidus Pantaleon (1540-1608). As poetry goes, this is not difficult to read, and it has some great details - like the lion and the bear being barely able to open their eyes since they are so dizzy from fighting! It is in iambic meter:
Cum fortuito in hinnulum ursus ac leo
Simul incidissent, ac uterque tenderet
Eo potiri, tunc acerrime invicem
Coepere conflictari, et unus alterum
Sic impetivit, ut gravi vertigine
Oborta, humi iaceret expers virium
Uterque. Vulpes hoc videns, approximat
(Spectarat illa haud hinc procul pugnae exitum)
Et hinnulum mox e medio illorum abripit.
Quod semiapertis illi oculis cum cernerent,
Nec id valerent impedire, ad invicem
"O nos miseros," aiunt, "parumque providos,
Vulpisne dimicando perimus gratia?"
Saepe alter alterius fruitur laboribus.
Here it is written out in segmented style to make it easier to follow, with some of the word order changed in order to clarify the syntax:
ursus ac leo
ac uterque tenderet eo potiri,
tunc acerrime invicem coepere conflictari,
et unus alterum sic impetivit,
ut, gravi vertigine oborta,
uterque humi iaceret,
haud hinc procul
mox e medio illorum
quod cum illi cernerent
nec id valerent impedire,
ad invicem aiunt
"o nos miseros,
saepe alter alterius
The image is from Winter's Aesop for Children:
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