Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fable 56: Anus et Anser

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 56 in the book: De Anu et Ansere. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Anus quaedam Anserem alebat, qui illi quotidie ovum aureum excludebat. Anus avarissima, existimans Anserem habuisse in visceribus fodinam auream, cupiditate commota, Anserem confestim interfecit et, cum viscera perscrutabatur et unicum tantum ovum deprehenderat, spe sublactata inani, exclamabat, “O me infelicem, tantae crudelitatis consciam, quae, non modico contenta lucro, iam omnia perdiderim.”
Anus quaedam
= In the opening words, we meet one of the main characters of the story: an old woman. And yes, of course, as always be careful with the noun: anus is a fourth-declension noun, feminine - it is not a second declension noun (anus, a masculine noun meaning "ring" or "circle"), and don't get it confused with that very common second-declension noun, annus (two n's), meaning "year."

Anserem alebat,
= As the object of the verb, we meet the other main character of the story: the goose. There is a surprising lack of geese in the fables of Aesop - and you will see that while the goose here has magical properties, he is not a talking animal.

qui illi quotidie ovum aureum excludebat.
= The dative pronoun illi refers to the old woman for whom the goose laid the egg each day: qui (anser) illi (anui) ovum excludebat.

Anus avarissima
= This use of the superlative, without an explicit comparison, indicates that the old woman is "extremely greedy" or "utterly greedy."

= This participle introduces an indirect statement: she reckoned that...

= This gives us the accusative subject of the accusative plus infinitive construction in the indirect statement.

habuisse in visceribus fodinam auream,
= This completes the accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement, with anserem as the accusative subject and fodinam auream as the object of the infinitive. The use of the perfect infinitive here conveys the sense of the goose somehow having "acquired" this gold mine in its guts (and, of course, this is just what the old woman would like to acquire for herself!).

cupiditate commota,
= The participle agrees with the subject of the main verb, anus avarissima.

Anserem confestim interfecit
= In the adverb confestim you can see the same root as in the verb festinare, "to hurry."

et, cum viscera perscrutabatur
= The deponent verb perscrutabatur is transitive and takes a direct object in the accusative, viscera. Note the use of cum with the indicative verbs here (perscrutabatur and also deprehenderat in the next part of the clause), indicating a plainly factual statement of the circumstances.

et unicum tantum ovum deprehenderat,
= The word tantum here is used as an adverb, meaning "only."

spe sublactata inani,
= The phrase spe inani wraps around the participle. The participle again agrees with the old woman in gender, number and case (feminine, singular, nominative).

= The verb of speaking (or, rather, verb of shouting) here introduces direct statement, the old woman's actual words in quotation.

“O me infelicem,
= An exclamation using the accusative, with the interjection o; the adjective agrees in gender, case and number with the pronoun me.

tantae crudelitatis consciam,
= The adjective consciam (“aware of, accomplice in”) takes a genitive complement; like infelicem, this adjective also agrees with the pronoun me.

= The referent of the relative pronoun is me, the old woman herself, hence the feminine singular form.

non modico contenta lucro,
= The phrase modico lucro wraps around the adjective, which takes an ablative complement.

iam omnia perdiderim.”
= The subjunctive provides causal background information; according to the woman, this is the reason why she is an accomplice in her own misfortune.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow (note that his illustration shows apparently a married couple as the owners of the bird, with the man - not the woman - the apparent culprit in disemboweling the creature):

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