Friday, June 13, 2008

Perry 133: Dog and Reflection

Today's fable is Perry #133, the story of the dog carrying a piece of food in his mouth as he crossed a stream. At the Aesopus wiki, you can see a complete list of the versions of this fable that I have collected. This is an extremely well-attested fable in both the Latin and Greek traditions. Just for fun, I have decided to include a rhyming medieval version in the blog today. Unlike most classical poetry, this poem relies on the rhyme for its effect, with word order that is actually very easy to follow! The meter is Goliardic, with four lines in each stanza. The fourth line is a dactylic hexameter, but the first three lines are like the English song "Yankee Doodle went to town ~ riding on a pony." It is also the meter of the Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslas."

Canis carnis avidus ~ trans flumen meavit,
Et frustum cadaveris ~ in ore portavit.
Unde carnis speciem ~ mox representavit.
Carnis imago fuit frustum, quod inesse putavit.

Ille fame tenuis ~ os aperiebat,
Ut umbram prehenderet ~ quam carnem credebat,
Qui dum fauces aperit, ~ frustum decidebat.
Perdidit utrumque, quod sic utrumque petebat.

Sic fraudantur cupidi ~ totum cupientes.
Cum magis sunt divites, ~ magis sunt egentes,
Nec sibi nec aliis ~ sunt sufficientes.
Dum totum cupiunt, toto sunt iure carentes.

Rhyme is a feature commonly found in medieval Latin poetry, although it is something the classical Roman poets avoided in their poetry. Personally, I really like rhyming poetry, so medieval poetry is my own preference! I hope you enjoyed this example of medieval rhyming Latin!

For an image of the story, here is an illustration from an Aesop book published in 1521 - you can see the piece of meat reflected there in the water, big and tempting!

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