Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fable 38: Gallus Gallinaceus

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 38 in the book: De Gallo Gallinaceo. For more information Fable about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Gallus gallinaceus, dum armato pede sterquilinium dissipando disiicit, invenit gemmam: “Quid (inquiens) rem tam fulgurantem reperio? Si gemmarius invenisset, laetabundus exultaret, quippe qui scivit pretium. Mihi quidem nulli est usui, nec magni aestimo. Unum etenim hordei granum est mihi longe pretiosius quam omnes gemmae, quamvis ad invidiam micent diei opprobriumque solis.”
Gallus gallinaceus,
= Here we meet the main, and only, character in this fable: the barnyard rooster.

dum armato pede sterquilinium dissipando disiicit,
= The gerund is used here in the ablative case.

invenit gemmam:
= Although Latin sentences often put the verb in final position, here that emphatic position is instead given to the jewel, the surprising item that the rooster has found!

“Quid (inquiens) rem tam fulgurantem reperio?
= The interrogative quid here means “why? for what reason?”, with the present participle inquiens indicating a direct quotation.

Si gemmarius invenisset,
= The pluperfect subjunctive is able to introduce a contrary-to-fact hypothetical in the past: if a jeweler had found the jewel - but he did not; the rooster, instead, is the one who actually found the jewel.

laetabundus exultaret,
= The imperfect subjunctive expresses a contrary-to-fact hypothetical in the present: he would be jumping with joy - but our hypothetical jeweler is not jumping for joy, and the rooster is not very happy either!

quippe qui scivit pretium.
= The particle quippe is often used with the relative pronoun to mean “inasmuch as (he is) someone who . . .” For the perfect scivit here, you want the sense of the English perfect: "someone who has come to know, someone who has learned . . ."

Mihi quidem
= Notice the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect.

nulli est usui,
= The predicate dative expresses the purpose the jewel serves for the rooster; it is nulli usui, “no use” to him.

nec magni aestimo.
= You can replace the word nec with the words et non, with the predicate genitive expressing a quantity of value: et non magni aestimo, “and I do not consider it to be of great value.”

Unum etenim hordei granum
= Normally etenim would begin the clause, but here the word unum has been placed in the emphatic first position.

est mihi longe pretiosius
= Note the neuter form of the comparative adjective, pretiosius, agreeing with granum.

quam omnes gemmae,
= The word quam coordinates a comparison introduced by pretiosius.

quamvis ad invidiam micent diei
= The phrase ad invidiam diei wraps around the verb; the subjunctive, introduced by quamvis, states a hypothetical possibility: “even if (the jewels) gleam to (the point that they are) the envy of the daylight.”

opprobriumque solis.”
= This construction parallels ad invidiam diei, with the preposition ad omitted: (quamvis micent ad) opprobrium solis, “and even if they gleam to the point that they are the sun’s shame (i.e., a source of shame for the sun).”

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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