Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fable 73: Leo et Quidam Alii Quadrupedes

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 73 in the book: De Leone et Quibusdam Aliis Quadrupedibus. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Convenere Leo et Ovis et alii Quadrupedes, pepigerantque inter se venationem fore communem. Itur venatum; procumbit cervus; spolia dividunt, singulas singulis partes tollere incipientibus. Irrugiens surgit Leo: “Una (inquit) pars mea est, quia sum dignissimus. Altera item mea est, quia viribus sum praestantissimus. Porro, quia in capiendo cervo plus sudaverim, tertiam mihi partem vendico. Quartam denique partem, nisi concesseritis, actum est de amicitia; ilicet periistis!” Reliqui, hoc audito, discedunt, vacui et taciti, non ausi muttire contra Leonem.
Convenere Leo et Ovis et alii Quadrupedes,
= As usual, we meet the characters of the fable in the opening words. In other versions of the story, it specifies that the lion's partners were a sheep, a heifer (vacca), and a she-goat (capella). The verb convenere is an alternate form of convenerunt.

pepigerantque inter se
= The pact that they made introduces indirect statement: they pledge that...

venationem fore communem.
= Accusative plus infinitive construction, with fore as the future infinitive of esse; venationem is the accusative subject, and communem a predicate adjective.

Itur venatum;
= The supine venatum combined with the verb of motion expresses purpose, and the third person passive itur expresses the idea impersonally, “a hunt was gone on,” i.e. they went hunting.

procumbit cervus; spolia dividunt,
= The cervus provides the spolia which the animals are sharing amongst themselves (or which they think they are going to share!).

singulas singulis partes tollere incipientibus.
= The phrase singulis incipientibus is an ablative absolute construction, with the participle taking a complementary infinitive phrase, singulas partes tollere.

Irrugiens surgit Leo:
= The rugitus, "roar," is the distinctive sound of lions in Latin.

“Una (inquit) pars mea est,
= Note the postpositive use of inquit to mark the beginning of a direct quote.

quia sum dignissimus.
= The superlative is used here without an explicit comparison, the idea being that the lion is most worthy (of all the animals).

Altera item mea est,
= Notice how the lion counts: first he says una and then he says altera; the words unus and alter are often found in a sequence of two items, much like "the one" and "the other" in English.

quia viribus sum praestantissimus.
= The ablative viribus explains in what way the lion is most outstanding.

Porro, quia in capiendo cervo
= The gerundive capiendo agrees with the complement of the preposition, cervo, “in catching the deer.”

plus sudaverim,
The subjunctive is introduced by quia (“because”), giving causal background information; according to the lion, this is why he deserves the third portion.

tertiam mihi partem vendico.
= After una and altera, the lion continues the enumeration of the portions that he claims: tertia.

Quartam denique partem, nisi concesseritis,
= The compound nisi means "if (si) you do not (ni)."

actum est de amicitia;
= The idiomatic phrase actum est de means that something is “done” in the sense of “over and done with, finished.”

ilicet periistis!”
= You might translate this idiomatically as “you’re as good as dead.” The word ilicet (a compound of the imperative i + ) was originally a formula used to dismiss someone from a meeting ("go; it is allowed" = "you can go now").

Reliqui, hoc audito, discedunt, vacui et taciti,
= The adjectives refers to the other animals, the "quadrupeds" of the fable's title: reliqui (quadrupedes) ... vacui et taciti.

non ausi muttire contra Leonem.
= The participle ausi takes a complementary infinitive: muttire.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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