Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fable 23: Lupus Ovis Pelle Indutus

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 23 in the book: De Lupo Ovis Pelle Induto. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Lupus, Ovis pelle indutus, Ovium se immiscuit gregi, quotidieque aliquam ex eis occidebat. Quod cum Pastor animadvertisset, illum in altissima arbore suspendit. Interrogantibus autem ceteris Pastoribus cur Ovem suspendisset, respondebat, “Pellis quidem est Ovis, opera autem erant Lupi.”
Lupus, Ovis pelle indutus,
= As usual, we meet the main character immediately: this is the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing!

Ovium se immiscuit gregi,
= The reflexive verb se immiscuit takes a dative complement. As often, English is much sloppier about transitive and intransitive verbs in Latin; here the reflexive pronoun indicates that this is an intransitive use of the verb. (Consider English: intransitive, "I blend into the crowd," v. transitive, "To make the cake, I blend the sugar into the butter and eggs.")

quotidieque aliquam ex eis occidebat.
= The pronoun refers to a sheep: aliquam (ovem), “a sheep, one of the sheep.”

Quod cum Pastor animadvertisset,
= The relative pronoun connects back to the previous sentence, referring to the general situation described there, i.e. the way the wolf keeps killing the sheep; the subjunctive, introduced by cum, gives causal background information as to why the shepherd hanged the wolf.

illum in altissima arbore suspendit.
= The pronoun refers to the wolf: illum (lupum) suspendit. The superlative here does not necessarily mean "the tallest tree," but just "a very tall tree" or "an extremely tall tree."

Interrogantibus autem ceteris Pastoribus
= Ablative absolute construction, with the postpositive article in second position as you would expect.

cur Ovem suspendisset,
= The word cur introduces an indirect question with the subjunctive.

= Again you can see that the imperfect is an unmarked past tense verb, which you can simply render as "replied" in English. As the past tense verb which is unmarked for completion (unlike the perfect, which is so marked), this is simply a neutral way to describe an action that took place in the past. There is no reason whatsoever to translate it as "was replying" - and in this sentence, such a translation would be plainly inappropriate.

“Pellis quidem est Ovis,
= The postpositive particle puts special emphasis on the word pellis.

opera autem erant Lupi.”
= Note the postpositive particle in second position, parallel to the particle in the preceding clause, emphasizing the parallel structure: noun-particle-verb-genitive in both clauses.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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