Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fable 66: Leo et Quattuor Tauri

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 66 in the book: De Leone et Quattuor Tauris. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Quattuor fuere Tauri qui, inter se invicem societate inita, foedus faciebant communem ipsorum esse salutem et commune periculum. Hoc observavit esuriens et indignabundus Leo, qui quamvis grandi premeretur fame, coniunctos tamen aggredi non ausus est. Hoc ergo consilium cepit: primum verbis fallacibus unum ab altero segregavit, deinde segregatos facile laniavit.
Quattuor fuere Tauri
= The phrase quattuor tauri wraps around the verb, fuere (an alternate form of fuerunt), which is declarative: “there were four bulls.”

= Notice the ambiguity of the relative pronoun qui, which can be either masculine nominative plural, as here, or masculine nominative singular, as you will see further down.

inter se invicem societate inita,
= Ablative absolute construction.

foedus faciebant
= Although foedus might look like a masculine second declension noun, it is not - you are dealing here with a neuter third declension noun, which is here in the accusative case.

communem ipsorum esse salutem
= Accusative plus infinitive construction, with the noun salutem as the subject and communem as predicate adjective. The noun phrase ipsorum salutem is wrapped around the infinitive; the pronoun refers to the bulls: ipsorum (taurorum) salutem.

et commune periculum.
= Accusative plus infinitive, parallel to communem salutem in the preceding statement: commune (esse) periculum.

Hoc observavit
= The pronoun refers to the entire general situation of the bulls, their treaty, and so on.

esuriens et indignabundus Leo,
= If there are two adjectives that would make you watch out for a lion, it would have to be hungry and angry!

= Here the relative pronoun qui is masculine nominative singular.

quamvis grandi premeretur fame,
= The phrase grandi fame wraps around the verb, with the subjunctive expressing a supposition introduced by quamvis.

coniunctos tamen aggredi
= The deponent infinitive aggredi is transitive and takes a direct object in the accusative: coniunctos (tauros). Note also the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect

non ausus est.
= This verb needs a complementary infinitive, which you have already with aggredi.

Hoc ergo consilium cepit:
= Note the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect.

= This is primum used as an adverb, "first" (in a series of events).

verbis fallacibus
= The fable does not tell us what words the lion used to set the bulls against each other. Just imagine the possibilities!

unum ab altero segregavit,
= The verb segregare means literally to "dis-herd," based on the root word grex (gregis) meaning "flock, herd." The prefix se- means "without, apart" as in Latin securus, "without - care."

deinde segregatos facile laniavit.
= You might even want to translate the participle as a finite verb: "Finally, after he had separated the bulls, he easily butchered them."

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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