Agricola, Filios suos videns quotidie litigantes, iussit fasciculum virgarum sibi afferri. Quae cum allatae essent, colligavit omnes in unum fasciculum, iussitque singulos Filiorum fasciculum capere et confringere. Illis vero confringere non valentibus, solvens postea fasciculum, tradidit singulas singulis eis frangendas, atque, illis statim facileque frangentibus, dixit, “Ita et vos, Filii mei, si unanimes perstiteritis, invictos vos hostibus praebebitis. Sin minus, ipsa vestra aemulatio opportunam vos praedam inimicis praestabit.”Agricola,
= We meet one of the main characters in the fable here in the first word.
Filios suos videns quotidie litigantes,
= The participle litigantes is accusative plural, agreeing with the sons.
iussit fasciculum virgarum sibi afferri.
= The word fasciculus is a diminutive of the noun fascis, better known in the plural form fasces.
Quae cum allatae essent,
= The referent of the relative pronoun is virgarum in the previous sentence: quae (virgae) cum allatae essent.
colligavit omnes in unum fasciculum,
= The adjective omnes refers to the twigs: omnes (virgas).
iussitque singulos Filiorum
= The genitive plural is used with the distributive numeral, singulos: “each (of) his sons.”
fasciculum capere et confringere.
= The infinitives are complements to the verb iussit, with fasciculum as the object of the infinitives.
Illis vero confringere non valentibus,
= Ablative absolute construction, with the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect.
solvens postea fasciculum,
= The nominative singular participle refers back to the subject of the main verb, the father.
tradidit singulas singulis eis frangendas,
= The word singulis agrees with eis, referring to the sons, while singulas refers to the twigs, and the gerundive frangendas expresses purpose: tradidit singulas (virgas) singulis eis (filiis) frangendas.
atque, illis statim facileque frangentibus,
= Ablative absolute construction, with the twigs as the implied object of the participle: illis (virgas) frangentibus.
dixit, “Ita et vos, Filii mei,
= Note the adverbial use of et in the phrase et vos ("you also").
si unanimes perstiteritis,
= The word unanimis is a contraction of un- ("one") and anim- ("mind, spirit"), meaning "like-minded, agreed."
invictos vos hostibus praebebitis.
= The in- prefix is adjectival here, meaning "un-defeated."
= The adverb minus refers to the situation just discussed: sin minus (unanimes perstiteritis), “but if (you persist in being) less (united) . . .”
ipsa vestra aemulatio
= The word aemulatio can be used in either a good or a bad sense in Latin; here it is clearly bad!
opportunam vos praedam inimicis praestabit.”
= The phrase opportunam praedam wraps around the pronoun, with the noun phrase and the pronoun in apposition to one another in the predicate: “(your quarrel) will offer you to your enemies (as) ready prey.”
Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:
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