Testudo, cum pedes eius Lepus deridebat, subridens dixit, “Si periculum in cursu feceris, quis sit velocior liquido cognosces.” Elegerunt igitur Vulpem, quae ambobus et locum et terminum cursus constitueret. Testudo, omni segnitie remota, iter arripiens, haud quievit donec ad terminum pervenerat. Lepus vero, pedibus fidens, postquam paululum quievit, somno excitatus, quantum pedes valuerunt ad terminum cucurrit ubi, cum Testudinem quiescentem reperit, se fatetur a Testudine superatum.Testudo,
= As usual we meet one of our main characters in the opening word: the tortoise.
cum pedes eius Lepus deridebat,
= Here we meet the other main character: the rabbit. Note the use of cum plus an indicative verb; the pronoun eius refers to the tortoise, pedes eius (testudinis).
= While the rabbit "scoffed" at the tortoise (deridebat), here we see that the tortoise smiles in reply (subridens). The verb of speaking is going to introduce direct quoted speech.
“Si periculum in cursu feceris,
= The word periculum here means "hazard" in the sense of a bet or a wager.
quis sit velocior
= The word quis introduces an indirect question with the subjunctive.
= The verb cognosces explains the indirect question: you will realize who is faster.
Elegerunt igitur Vulpem,
= This version of the story has a third character: a fox who serves as the judge.
= The relative pronoun refers to the fox, a feminine noun.
= This pronoun refers to the two contestants, the hare and the tortoise.
et locum et terminum cursus constitueret.
= The word cursus is genitive singular in the noun phrase, cursus terminum. The double et means “both . . . and . . ." The subjunctive constitueret explains the purpose for which the fox was elected.
= Now we will see how the contestants proceed, starting with the tortoise.
omni segnitie remota,
= Ablative absolute construction.
iter arripiens, haud quievit
= As often in Latin, there is a participle with a finite verb, which you might want to translate with two finite verbs in English: the tortoise hit the course and did not rest...
donec ad terminum pervenerat.
= Like cum, the conjunction donec can take either a subjunctive or an indicative verb. Here, with the indicative, it states a matter of fact: the tortoise did not rest until he had reached the finish line.
Lepus vero, pedibus fidens,
= Now we turn to the other contestant: the rabbit. The postpositive particle is in second position, as you would expect.
postquam paululum quievit,
= Remember that the tortoise did not rest at all: haud quievit.
= The participle excitatus (“aroused from”) takes an ablative complement.
quantum pedes valuerunt
= The phrase quantum pedes valuerunt is an adverbial clause explaining just how fast the rabbit ran.
ad terminum cucurrit
= Unlike the tortoise, the rabbit is indeed able to run, currere... but running, he will discover, is not enough!
ubi, cum Testudinem quiescentem reperit,
= Note the use of cum with an indicative verb.
se fatetur a Testudine superatum.
= Accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement: se superatum (esse).
Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:
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