Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fable 17: Agricola et Ciconia

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 17 in the book: De Agricola et Ciconia. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Laqueum praetendit Rusticus gruibus anseribusque, sata depascentibus. Capitur et Ciconia. Supplicat illa et innocentem sese clamitat, nec gruem nec anserem esse, sed avium omnium optimam, quippe quae parentibus sedulo inservire eundemque senio confectum alere consueverat. Agricola: “Horum (inquit) nihil me fugit; verum cum nocentibus postquam te cepi, cum nocentibus morieris.”
Laqueum praetendit Rusticus
= The opening words introduce us to one of the main characters: a man of the countryside, a "rustic" person, a peasant.

gruibus anseribusque, sata depascentibus.
= The man is laying a trap for these birds in particular, the cranes and the geese, because they are devastating his crops. The participle sata is used substantively, meaning “crops, things sown in the fields.”

Capitur et Ciconia.
= Here we meet the other main character of the story: a stork, who is inadvertently caught in the net. Note the adverbial use of et, meaning “also."

Supplicat illa
= The pronoun refers to the stork.

et innocentem sese clamitat,
= Accusative plus infinitive constructions in indirect statement, with sese (alternate form of se) as the subject, and innocentem as a predicate adjective: innocentem sese (esse).

nec gruem nec anserem esse,
= Continuation of the accusative plus infinitive construction, with the accusative subject implied, and the other birds as predicate nouns: (se) nec gruem nec anserem esse.

sed avium omnium optimam,
= Continuation of the accusative plus infinitive construction, with the subject and the infinitive implied, and optimam as a predicate adjective: avium omnium optimam (se esse).

quippe quae parentibus sedulo inservire
= The particle quippe is often used with the relative pronoun to mean “inasmuch as (she is) someone who . . .” The verb inservire takes a dative complement, and you now need to wait to find out what is governing this infinitive form.

eundemque senio confectum alere consueverat.
= Now you learn that the infinitives inservire and alere are both complements to consueverat. The word eundem (masculine accusative singular of idem) refers to the stork’s aforementioned parent: eundem (parentem) senio confectum.

Agricola: “Horum (inquit) nihil me fugit;
= Note the insertion of the verb of speaking as a kind of postpositive. The phrase horum nihil is a partitive genitive: nihil (nothing) horum (of these things) = “none of these things.”

= Note the emphatic verum in first position; this is something equivalent to starting an English sentence with "By God!"

cum nocentibus postquam te cepi,
= The adjectival nocentibus refers to the other birds - the geese and the cranes - who had been feasting on the man's crops.

cum nocentibus morieris.”
= Note the parallel construction with the repeated prepositional phrase.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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