Monday, January 05, 2009

Fable 72: Cattus et Vulpes

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 72 in the book: De Catto et Vulpe. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Contrahebant inter se amicitias Cattus et Vulpes. Cui Vulpes astutiarum suarum grandem recensebat numerum. Cattus replicuit, “Ast ego uno tantum consilio et, quod natura ad meipsum praeservandum suggessit, contentus sum.” Inter haec, odoram canum vim appropinquantium audiunt. Cattus confestim altissimos arboris scandebat ramos et secure despectans sedebat. Vulpes autem et hic et illic trepide currebat et, nulla aufugiendi spe relicta, nulla uspiam latebra inventa, a canibus apprehensa laceratur.
Contrahebant inter se amicitias
= The opening words of the fable tell us about a friendship, saving the information for the end of the sentence.

Cattus et Vulpes.
= Here then are our two friends: the cat and the fox!

Cui Vulpes
= The referent of the relative pronoun is cattus in the previous sentence: cui (catto) vulpes (recensebat).

astutiarum suarum grandem recensebat numerum.
= The phrase grandem numerum wraps around the verb.

Cattus replicuit,
= The Latin word replicare, via French, ultimately yields the English word "reply." There are also English words derived from Latin which do not lose the plic- of the stem, such as implicate, duplicate, etc.

“Ast ego uno tantum consilio
= The predicate ablative functions like an adjective: uno tantum consilio, “I (am) just a one-plan (cat).”

et, quod natura
= The referent of the relative pronoun quod is the implied ablative complement of the verb which is coming up: contentus sum (eo) quod, “I am contented with that which . . .”

ad meipsum praeservandum suggessit,
= The gerundive with the preposition ad expresses purpose, and meipsum is an example of a compound word: me + ipsum.

contentus sum.”
= The relative clause explains just what the cat is content with: contentus sum (hoc) quod...

Inter haec,
= The pronoun here, neuter plural, refers to these things that they were saying to each other, their conversation.

odoram canum vim appropinquantium
= The highly poetic phrase, odora canum vis (“the keen-scented pack of hounds”), comes from Vergil’s Aeneid, Book IV.

= The cat and the fox are the implied subject of this verb.

Cattus confestim
= We will learn first about what the cat does when he hears the dogs approaching!

altissimos arboris scandebat ramos
= The phrase altissimos arboris ramos wraps around the verb.

et secure despectans sedebat.
= The etymology of secure is se- (without) and cura (care), so the cat is sitting up in the tree without a care in the world.

Vulpes autem
= The postpositive particle is in second position, as you would expect, alerting us now to what the fox was doing.

et hic et illic trepide currebat
= The Latin adverbs hic and illic express the idea that the fox was running around in this place and in that place - but without going anywhere at all!

et, nulla aufugiendi spe relicta,
= The phrase nulla spe (“no hope of”) wraps around the gerund in the genitive case, in an ablative absolute construction.

nulla uspiam latebra inventa,
= Another ablative absolute construction.

a canibus apprehensa laceratur.
= Latin is fond of passive verbs, as you can see here with the passive participle and passive verb, but you might want to render them both as active verbs in English: "the dogs caught the fox and tore her to pieces."

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

The Aesopus Ning is now open for business - so, for more fables and to share your questions and comments with others, come visit the Ning!

No comments: