Foedus aliquando fuit inter Lupos et Oves, quibus natura discordia est. Obsides utrimque tradebantur. Oves, in suam partem, vigilem canum custodiam, Lupi suos catulos tradiderunt. Quietis Ovibus ac pascentibus, lupuli matrum desiderio ululatus edunt. Tum Lupi irruentes foedus fidemque solutam clamitant, Ovesque, canum praesidio destitutas, laniant.Foedus aliquando fuit
= Note the use of the verb "to be" used here in an existential sense: "There was a treaty..." The Latin adverb ali-quando is something like the English adverb we might have had if we said "some-when" - but while we say somewhere, someone, something in English, we do not say "somewhen" - unfortunately! It would be a very handy word to have in English.
inter Lupos et Oves,
= As often, the main characters in the fable are introduced right at the outset: the wolves and the sheep.
quibus natura discordia est.
= The relative pronoun has both the wolves and the sheep as its reference. There is by nature, natura (ablative), a lack of harmony among the wolves and sheep. The Latin dis-cordia means that their hearts (minds) are at odds with one another.
Obsides utrimque tradebantur.
= This business of trading hostages was a regular feature of Roman foreign policy, although it is not something that you expect to have happen nowadays when treaties are formed between nations! Note the word adverbial utrimque, "on each side, on both sides." Like many adverbs, it is based on an adjective: uterque, meaning "each (of two), both."
= When you see this form at the beginning of the sentence, you cannot be sure yet if the sheep are the subject of the sentence (nominative plural) or the object (accusative plural), so you have to wait and see.
in suam partem,
= Since the adjective suus is reflexive, and refers back to the subject of the sentence, you cannot be sure yet just who suam refers to here, not until you find out who the subject of the sentence will be.
vigilem canum custodiam,
= The word custodiam is unambiguously accusative, so now you have the answer to the question: the sheep are the subject of the sentence, and the reflexive pronoun refers back to the sheep: in suam partem must mean, "for their part," since the sheep are plural.
= This word is also ambiguous - perhaps genitive singular, perhaps nominative plural - but the parallel of the nominative plural sheep suggests strongly that this will be a nominative plural form.
suos catulos tradiderunt.
= At last, the verb - which serves two purposes here, in a parallel construction: oves custodiam (tradiderunt) . . . lupi catulos tradiderunt.
Quietis Ovibus ac pascentibus,
= This is an ablative absolute construction, with one noun, and two participles, quietis...ac pascentibus.
= This is a diminutive of lupus, wolf, meaning the little wolves, or wolf cubs. The word could be nominative plural or genitive singular; in the absence of a subject for the sentence so far, the odds are in favor of it being nominative plural, supplying the subject of the sentence.
= The word matrum is an objective genitive, expressing the object of the longing in desiderio: “because of a longing for their mothers.”
= We now have a verb to go with the plural subject: the wolf cubs are uttering howls! The word ululatus is an accusative plural form of a supine, a verbal noun which is always a fourth declension declension noun.
= We are now back to the wolves. Although this word could be genitive singular, the odds are strongly in favor of it being a nominative plural subject.
= Sure enough, the plural participle here confirms that the wolves are the subject, and the participle provides information about what the wolves are doing: they rush in and...
foedus fidemque solutam
= Still no verb yet, but we can expect a verb that will introduce indirect statement, as what we have here is an accusative plus infinitive construction, with esse omitted, and the infinitive agreeing with the nearest of the two subjects: fidem solutam (esse).
= This is an intensive iterative verb form, based on the root verb clamare. This is the verb that introduces the indirect statement with the accusative plus infinitive construction.
= Since the wolves were the subject of the preceding verb, it is possible that they might still be the subject, and these plural sheep the object - or the sheep could be the subject of a new verb. We will wait and see!
canum praesidio destitutas,
= The feminine plural accusative form lets us know that oves is probably also accusative, the object of a verb with the wolves continuing as the subject. The participle destitutas (“left without, bereft of”) takes an ablative complement.
= Here is the verb: lupi oves laniant, a regular occurrence in the world of Aesop's fables!
Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:
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