Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fable 22: Vulpes et Lupus

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 22 in the book: De Vulpe et Lupo. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Vulpes, cum in puteum fortuito incidisset, Lupum in ripa praetereuntem vidit rogavitque ut funem sibi compararet opemque daret ad se ipsam a tanto periculo extrahendam. Cui Lupus: “Miserrima Vulpes, condoleo tuum infortunium. Dic, precor: quomodo in hunc puteum incidisti?” Respondebat Vulpes, “Non opus est ambagibus. Quin tu funem comparato, et deinde omnia tibi in ordine expediam.”
Vulpes, cum in puteum fortuito incidisset,
= As usual, we meet the main characters in short order: first is the fox. The subjunctive, introduced by cum, gives causal background information; this is why the fox had to ask the wolf for help.

Lupum in ripa praetereuntem vidit
= The other main character in the fable appears here as the object of the verb: the wolf.

rogavitque ut funem sibi compararet
= The fox asks the wolf for help; the reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject of the main verb, the fox: the fox asked the wolf to buy her (the fox) a rope.

opemque daret
= The subjunctive verb here continues the previous ut clause.

ad se ipsam a tanto periculo extrahendam.
= The gerundive with the preposition ad expresses purpose; se ipsam refers to the fox, hence the feminine gender of the pronoun, with the gerundive agreeing in gender, number and case.

Cui Lupus:
= The referent of the relative pronoun is the fox, with an implied verb of speaking: cui (vulpi) lupus (inquit).

“Miserrima Vulpes, condoleo tuum infortunium.
= This use of the superlative indicates an extreme quality; the fox is not being directly compared to anyone else, but she is "most wretched" or "extremely unfortunate."

Dic, precor: quomodo in hunc puteum incidisti?”
= Notice that the question is reported as direct speech, in the form of a direct question with an indicative verb (rather than an indirect question using the subjunctive).

Respondebat Vulpes,
= 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.

“Non opus est ambagibus.
= The phrase opus est takes an ablative complement (“there is need of”).

Quin tu funem comparato,
= The word comparato is a future imperative, second person singular; the word quin plus the imperative expresses the so-called “interrogative imperative,” which can be translated as “Why don’t you go buy?”

et deinde omnia tibi in ordine expediam.”
= In Latin, the imperative, the subjunctive and the future are all ways to talk about potential reality. Even though the future tense is considered to be indicative, it is very close to the subjunctive, in the sense that the future, as such, does not exist yet. In this sentence, the fox outlines a possible series of events: if the wolf will go by the rope, then she will explain everything that happened. Although it is pretty clear that we should take expediam here as a future tense verb, there is not much difference between the future and subjunctive meanings in a sentence like this one.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

The Aesopus Ning is now open for business - so, for more fables and to share your questions and comments with others, come visit the Ning!

No comments: