Smaridem Pisciculum captabat Piscator, quem, ut se tunc demitteret donec grandesceret unde luculentius et lautius hospitum fauces expleret, importunis precibus fatigavit. Cui Piscator: “Me sane insulsum crederes, si tam futilibus et lubricis promissis fidem adhiberem et certum commodum pro spe incerta commutarem.”Smaridem Pisciculum
= Here we meet one of the main characters in the fable: a smaris, or "picarel," who is not just a fish, but a diminutive fish, pisciculus.
= Here we meet the other main character of the fable: the fish.
= The referent of the relative pronoun quem is the fisherman. You are going to have to wait for a while to get the verb of which this is the object - but don't forget that it is waiting for a verb!
ut se tunc demitteret
= The reflexive pronoun refers to the subject of the main verb of the sentence which, as you will learn, is the fish. The subject of the subjunctive verb is the fisherman: ut se (pisciculum) tunc (piscator) demitteret.
= The subjunctive is introduced by donec, stating a hypothetical possibility about the future, if only the fisherman would let the little fish go.
unde luculentius et lautius hospitum fauces expleret,
= Another subjunctive verb expresses this hypothetical future, and the comparative adverbs are part of an implied comparison between this hypothetical future and the current reality: the fish would more splendidly and lavishly feed the guests in the future. The genitive plural hospitum refers to the banquet guests whose gullets would be filled by that hypothetical full-grown fish.
importunis precibus fatigavit.
= Remember the accusative fisherman back in the relative pronoun quem...? Well, it is the object of this verb, and the implied subject is the little picarel: quem (piscatorem) fatigavit (smaris pisciculus).
= The referent of this relative pronoun cui is pisciculum in the previous sentence, with an implied verb of speaking: cui (pisciculo) piscator (inquit).
“Me sane insulsum crederes,
= The pronoun me is the accusative subject of an implied infinitive in indirect statement introduced by crederes, with insulsum as the predicate adjective: me (esse) insulsum crederes.
si tam futilibus et lubricis promissis fidem adhiberem
= The imperfect subjunctive expresses a hypothetical possibility which is contrary to fact: if the fisherman were to put his trust in these promises... but he does not trust the fish's promises at all!
et certum commodum pro spe incerta commutarem.”
= This subjunctive verb also expresses a contrary-to-fact conditional sentence: if the fisherman were to exchange his profit for mere hope... but he is not going to make that exchange, much to the regret of the fish!
Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:
The Aesopus Ning is now open for business - so, for more fables and to share your questions and comments with others, come visit the Ning!