Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fable 12: Pastoris Puer et Agricolae

Here's the next fable with a kind of running commentary that is not entirely possible within the confines of the forthcoming book from Bolchazy-Carducci. This will be Fable 12 in the book: De Pastoris Puero et Agricolis. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Puer editiore prato oves pascebat atque, per iocum, lupum terque quaterque adesse clamitans, Agricolas undique exciebat. Illi, saepius illusi, dum auxilium imploranti non subveniunt, fiunt oves praeda lupo.
= As usual in the fables, we meet the main character in the story right away: this is the famous "boy," the one who cried 'wolf.'

editiore prato oves pascebat
= The use of the comparative adjective without an explicit comparison conveys the idea of "very" or "rather," the idea being that the boy was shepherding the sheep on "rather high meadow grass," or "meadow grass that was quite high up." That makes it all the more arduous for the people to come running to his aid, of course.

atque, per iocum,
= You can find this idiom, per iocum, "as a joke, for a joke," used already in the archaic Roman comic writers such as Plautus and Terence. Compare the prepositional phrase extra iocum, which means just the opposite: "all joking aside."

lupum terque quaterque adesse clamitans,
= The phrase lupum...adesse is an accusative plus infinitive construction, introduced by the participle clamitans. The boy does this thrice and four times - notice that Latin can continue the series indefinitely: ter, quater, quinquies, sexies and so on - but after "once, twice, thrice," English has no more numerical adverbs, and we have to use periphrastic phrases such as "four times," "five times," etc.

Agricolas undique exciebat.
= See the note about undique in Fable 3: Partus Montium.

Illi, saepius illusi,
= The pronoun refers to the farmers from the previous sentence. Again, the comparative form - this time of an adverb, not an adjective - expresses the idea of "rather" or "very." They had been fooled not just often, but very often. We have the nominative subject of a verb here, so now we are waiting for the verb.

dum auxilium imploranti non subveniunt,
= The dum leads us to the verb when we have been looking for, subveniunt. The verb takes a dative complement, expressed here by the participial phrase referring to the boy: (puero) auxilium imploranti.

fiunt oves praeda lupo.
= Now we discover what happens when the farmers do not come to the boy's aid: the sheep (oves, subject of the verb) become prey (praeda, predicate noun) for the wolf. Notice that while both the subject and predicate nouns must both be in the nominative case, they do not have to agree in gender or in number. The plural sheep can become the singular prey of the wolf.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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