Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fable 29: Vulpes et Uva

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 29 in the book: De Vulpe et Uva. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Racemum dependentem frustra conata est Vulpecula iteratis saltibus attingere. Sed tandem conatibus cassis omnino defatigata, indignabunda recessit, inquiens, “Apage acerbas et immaturas istas uvas, quae sane tam sordidae sunt ut ne quidem humi iacentes attollerem, si mihi gratis offerrentur.”
Racemum dependentem
= The bunch of grapes here is in the accusative case, so we will have to wait to find out what verb it is the object of!

frustra conata est Vulpecula
= The first verb we encounter is an intransitive verb: it does not take an object, but instead takes a complementary infinitive, which we are still waiting for.

iteratis saltibus attingere.
= Here is the infinitive that answers both our pending questions: it supplies the complementary infinitive for conata est and it also explains the accusative case of the bunch of grapes.

Sed tandem conatibus cassis omnino defatigata,
= The participle refers to the fox, who is grammatically feminine: vulpeculae (a diminutive form of vulpes).

indignabunda recessit,
= The adjective indignabunda modifies the subject of the verb, the feminine fox, so you might want to translate it as an adverb, rather than an adjective - she goes away indignantly.

= This is the present active participle of the defective verb inquam, used to indicate a direct quotation here, serving much the same function as quotation marks do in English.

“Apage acerbas et immaturas istas uvas,
= The interjection apage regularly appears with the accusative of exclamation, as you can see here, with uvas.

quae sane tam sordidae sunt
= The relative pronoun is plural (sunt), and refers back to the grapes in the previous clause. The choice of the adverb sane was probably both a matter of meaning and also of sound, as if the fox were spitting out her frustration with the alliterative sound pattern here!

ut ne quidem humi iacentes attollerem,
= The use of ne with the particle quidem expresses the sense of “not even if.” The form humi is locative, meaning “on the ground.”

si mihi gratis offerrentur.”
= The plural subject of the verb are the grapes, implied: (uvae) offerrentur.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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