Friday, June 27, 2008

Perry 169: Young Man and Swallow

With the growing number of fables, I've decided I need a more automated tagging system to keep up with all the content, so I've decided to start using again in order to keep track of the fables! I've created a user account, aesopus, so here you can see all the fable items I have tagged with today's selection, Perry 169: Young Man and Swallow.

This is not found in an ancient Latin source, so it enters the tradition only as the Greek fables begin to be translated in the Renaissance and later. As a sample of the fable in Latin, I've chosen a version from the 16th-century poet, Candidus Pantaleon. The poem is in iambic meter, and you will want to watch out for a few unfamiliar lexical items: heluo (helluo) is a glutton; paenula is a hooded cloak; abligurio (abligurire) is to squander; Caurus is the northwest wind.

Vestes suas quidam abligurivit heluo,
Brumae sub horam, et una restebat modo
Paenula. sed ille veris indicem videns
Hirundinem, decoxit illam et paenulam,
Aestate ea quasi esset indigus parum.
Sed falsus est? nam Caurus acri frigore
Spirans inhorruit grave. ille ibi, heu, miser,
Frigens, dolensque semi oberrat mortuus.
Torpore confectam deinde hirundinem
Cum cerneret iacere: ibi exsultans ait:
Infausta avis; non veris es, sed frigoris
Praenuntia, et poenas merito luis tuas.
Me teque noxa hac perdidisti pessima.
Non una ver hirundo fulgens efficit.
Non bolus unus improbam sidat famem,
Res una iuste quaeque fiat tempore.

Here is the poem rewritten in a more prose-like word order to help you see how it fits together:

heluo quidam
vestes suas abligurivit,
sub horam brumae,
et restebat modo
una paenula.
sed ille
videns hirundinem, veris indicem,
decoxit et illam paenulam,
quasi esset parum indigus
ea aestate.
sed falsus est?
nam Caurus
acri frigore spirans
inhorruit grave.
ille ibi, heu,
miser frigens dolensque,
oberrat semi mortuus.
cum cerneret
iacere hirundinem
torpore confectam,
ibi exsultans ait:
infausta avis;
non veris,
sed frigoris praenuntia es,
et poenas tuas merito luis.
me teque
pessima hac noxa.
non hirundo una
fulgens ver efficit.
non bolus unus
improbam famem sidat,
res una quaeque
iuste fiat tempore.

I really like the comparison of the hirundo una to the bolus unus at the end - that definitely reminds us of how the young man has gambled away all his wealth.

For an illustration, here is an image from Thomas Bewick's Aesop, published in 1818 - although this is an ancient Aesop's fable, you can see the young man dressed in early 19th-century clothes; the young man who gambles away all he has is, unfortunately, one of those timeless stories:

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