Hirundo, cum linum coeptum esset seri, suadebat aliis Aviculis impedire sementem, dictitans omnibus fieri insidias. Irridebant illae garrulamque vocabant. Surgente lino, rursum monebat evellere sata; irridebant iterum. Maturescente lino, hortabatur populari segetem et, cum ne tunc quidem consulentem audirent, Hirundo cum homine foedus init cohabitatque cum eo. Ceteris Avibus e lino retia fiunt et laquei.Hirundo,
= In the first word of the fable we meet one of the main characters: the swallow.
cum linum coeptum esset seri,
= The subjunctive, introduced by cum, gives causal background information; this is why the swallow tried to warn the other birds.
suadebat aliis Aviculis
= Here we meet the other characters in the fable: the other birds, aviculae, a diminutive of the word for birds, aves>
= This is what the swallow is urging the other birds to do: to put a stop to the sowing of the crop of flax.
= The participle is from an intensive iterative form of the verb dicere, to speak.
omnibus fieri insidias.
= Accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement, with insidias as the predicate noun: omnibus fieri insidias, “it would be made into snares for them all.”
= The pronoun refers to the other birds: illae (aviculae).
= The adjective garrulam is being used predicatively: vocabant eam garrulam, “they called her a chatter-box.”
= Ablative absolute construction.
rursum monebat evellere sata;
= The participle sata is used substantively, meaning “crops, things sown.”
= This fable has the classic "1-2-3" folktale, typical of so many stories: the swallow warns them once, and the other birds scoff; she warns them again, and they scoff again; now we will see what happens when the swallow warns them a third time.
= Ablative absolute construction; maturescente is an inchoative verb, indicating the process by which something becomes maturus, ripe.
hortabatur populari segetem
= The deponent verb is transitive and takes a direct object in the accusative; as before, she is urging the other birds about what they should do.
et, cum ne tunc quidem consulentem audirent,
= The phrase ne . . . quidem phrase puts a strong emphasis on the word tunc, “not even then." The subjunctive, introduced by cum, gives causal background information as to why the swallow went to live with people, rather than with the other birds.
Hirundo cum homine foedus init
= Now that she sees there is no point in dealing with the other birds, the swallow now decides to deal with people, instead.
cohabitatque cum eo.
= The pronoun refers to homo in the previous clause.
= We will now learn what happened to the other birds, who ignored the swallow's warning.
e lino retia fiunt et laquei.
= The compound subject retia et laquei wraps around the verb.
Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:
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