Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fable 67: Leo et Mus

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 67 in the book: De Leone et Mure. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Leo, aestu cursuque defessus, in umbra quiescebat. Murium autem grege tergum eius percurrente, expergefactus unum e multis comprehendit. Supplicat misellus, clamitans indignum se esse cui irascatur. Leo, reputans nihil laudis esse in nece tantillae bestiolae, captivum dimittit. Non multo post, Leo, dum per segetes currit, incidit in plagas; rugire licet, exire non licet. Rugientem Leonem Mus audit, vocem agnoscit, repit in cuniculos, et quaesitos laqueorum nodos invenit corroditque. Quo facto, Leo e plagis evadit.
Leo, aestu cursuque defessus,
= Note the elegant use of two fourth declension nouns here in parallel: aestu cursuque.

in umbra quiescebat.
= As often, the opening verb of the story is an imperfect past tense as the plot unfolds.

Murium autem grege
= Note the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect. This genitive noun phrase, murium grege, will be part of an ablative absolute phrase, as you are about to discover.

tergum eius percurrente,
= An ablative absolute phrase, with tergum the direct object of the participle, with eius referring to the lion: tergum eius (leonis).

= You might want to translate the participle as a finite verb phrase, "The lion woke up and..."

unum e multis comprehendit.
= The unum refers to one of the many mice who had been running down his back!

Supplicat misellus,
= The diminutive adjective refers to the mouse: misellus (mus).

= The verb is an iterative form of the root verb, clamare.

indignum se esse
= Accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement, with se (referring to the mouse, subject of the main verb) as the accusative subject and indignum as a predicate adjective.

cui irascatur.
= The subjunctive, introduced by the relative pronoun, explains the result of the mouse’s unworthy status; he is not even the sort of creature a lion might get angry at.

Leo, reputans
= The participle reputans is able to introduce indirect statement.

nihil laudis esse
= Accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement, with a partitive genitive construction: nihil (nothing) laudis (of praise, glory) esse = “there is no glory.”

in nece tantillae bestiolae,
= Note the use of the a diminutive adjective together with a diminutive noun!

captivum dimittit.
= The adjective refers to the mouse: captivum (murem).

Non multo post,
= The ablative expresses the degree of difference in a comparison introduced by post, “not (by) much later.”

Leo, dum per segetes currit,
= Notice that in telling a story, you can mix present and past tenses much more freely than is usually admissable in written English style.

incidit in plagas;
= The form incidit is ambiguous, and could be either present or perfect, but the unambiguous present verb currit strongly suggests taking this form as present also.

rugire licet, exire non licet.
= Notice the elegant parallel construction with licet / non licet.

Rugientem Leonem
= We were just told that it was possible for the lion to roar, so roar he does!

Mus audit,
= This sentence also features an unambiguous present tense verb: audit.

vocem agnoscit,
= Notice that vox can be used in Latin for all kinds of sounds, cries and calls, not just the human voice.

repit in cuniculos,
= The basic meaning of cuniculus is "rabbit" (compare English "cony"), but the word also came to refer to holes or passages, based on the way that rabbits burrow!

et quaesitos laqueorum nodos
= You might translate the passive participle with an active verb: "The mouse sought out the knots in the snare..."

invenit corroditque.
= You can see the same root as the English "rodent" in the verb corrodere - it is a very fitting thing for a "rodent" to be doing!

Quo facto,
= Ablative absolute construction, in which the relative pronoun quo connects back to the previous sentence, referring to the general situation described there, i.e. the mouse chewing through the knots.

Leo e plagis evadit.
= Thanks to Abstemius, there is also the marvelous follow-up story of just what kind of reward the mouse asked for and received for his services!

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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