Monday, November 24, 2008

Fable 31: Vulpes et Aquila

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 31 in the book: De Vulpe et Aquila. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Dum Vulpis proles foris excurrebant, ab Aquila comprehensae Matris fidem implorabant. Accurrit Vulpes Aquilamque rogat ut captivam prolem dimittat. Aquila, nacta praedam, ad pullos subvolat. Vulpes, correpta face, quasi nidum incendio absumptura esset, insequitur. Trepidans Aquila: “Parce (inquit) mihi parvisque liberis, et tuum quidquid habeo reddidero.”
Dum Vulpis proles foris excurrebant,
= The subject of the verb is the offspring, the pups (plural), proles, of the fox, vulpis.

ab Aquila comprehensae
= The feminine plural participle agrees with proles, which is feminine plural. As often, Latin does not hesitate to express a vital part of the action using a participle, in this case a passive participle - you might want to translate it with an active English finite verb: an eagle seized the fox's pups!

Matris fidem implorabant.
= The word fidem in this context means something like "security" or "protection."

Accurrit Vulpes
= The fox runs up in response to the cries of her pups!

Aquilamque rogat
= The fox clearly understands the situation, and turns her attention to the eagle.

ut captivam prolem dimittat.
= This is the request that the fox makes to the eagle, that she release - (aquila) dimittat - her offspring.

Aquila, nacta praedam,
= The deponent participle nacta is transitive and takes a direct object in the accusative

ad pullos subvolat.
= The eagle, like the fox, is a mother, and has taken the fox pups to feed her own chicks.

= Notice the back-and-forth of the narrative: the eagle was the first word of the previous sentence and its subject, and the fox is the first word and the subject of this sentence.

correpta face,
= Ablative absolute construction.

quasi nidum incendio absumptura esset,
= The future active participle with the verb esset creates a future active periphrastic construction; the mood is subjunctive, introduced by quasi.

= That is, the fox follows after the eagle, who has just flown off to her chicks.

Trepidans Aquila:
= The eagle is trembling with fear because of the threat of fire, of course!

“Parce (inquit) mihi parvisque liberis,
= The verb parce takes a dative complement.

et tuum quidquid habeo reddidero.”
= The idea is that “whatever I have (which is) yours,” with the entire phrase being the object of the verb reddidero.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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