Friday, November 28, 2008

Fable 35: Rusticus et Coluber

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 35 in the book: De Rustico et Colubro. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Rusticus repertum in altiori nive Colubrum, frigore prope enectum, domum tulit et ad focum adiecit. Coluber ab igni vires virusque recipiens et non amplius flammam ferens, totum tugurium sibilando infecit. Accurrit Rusticus et, correpta sude, verbis verberibusque cum eo iniuriam expostulat: “Num haec est quam retulit gratia, eripiendo vitam illi cui vitam debuit?”
= As usual, we meet one of the main characters in the fable here in the opening word: a man of the rus, the countryside, a "peasant" or "farmer."

repertum in altiori nive Colubrum,
= Here is the other main character of the fable, a snake. You might translate the passive participle with an active verb: the peasant found the snake (repertum) and then carried it home (tulit). The comparative is used here to indicate “very deep, rather deep,” without an explicit comparison.

frigore prope enectum,
= Be careful with the endings: frigore is a noun in the ablative case, while prope is an adverb (historically, the pe ending of this word is the same pe you see in other adverbs like nempe, quippe, etc.)

domum tulit
= This use of domum in the accusative means “to the house, homeward.”

et ad focum adiecit.
= The "focus" of the family home was the fire, the source of the warmth, the means of cooking, and so on.

= As you can see, the snake has survived his ordeal in the snow and has now revived in order to become the subject of a sentence!

ab igni vires virusque recipiens
= Notice the play on words here: the snake has recovered both his vires and his virus, his powers and poisons!

et non amplius flammam ferens,
= Notice the use of the neuter form, amplius, as an adverb here (it is the comparative form of the adjective amplus, meaning "great, large, expansive," applied metaphorically to an expanse of time, rather than space).

totum tugurium sibilando infecit.
= The gerund is used here in the ablative case, explaining how the snake was able to poison the peasant's home.

Accurrit Rusticus
= This is the moment you see in Barlow's illustration: when the man comes running up to defend his home from the dangerous guest!

et, correpta sude,
= Ablative absolute construction.

verbis verberibusque
= Another play on words in the Latin!

cum eo iniuriam expostulat:
= Notice the etymology of the Latin iniuria, an "injury," or "in-justice."

“Num haec est quam retulit gratia,
= The referent of the relative pronoun quam is the noun gratia in the main clause: num haec est gratia?

eripiendo vitam illi
= The gerund here takes an accusative object, along with a dative complement, “snatching away (something) from (somebody).”

cui vitam debuit?”
= The referent of the relative pronoun is the pronoun illi in the main clause of the sentence. It agrees in gender and number with the reference, and the dative case here is explained by the verb in the relative clause: debuit.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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