Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fable 74: Anus et Ancillae

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 74 in the book: De Anu et Ancillis. For more information about this fable, see the Discussion Forum for this fable at the Aesopus Ning.
Anus quaedam domi habebat complures Ancillas, quas quotidie, antequam lucesceret, ad Galli gallinacei, quem domi alebat, cantum excitabat ad opus. Ancillae tandem, quotidiani negotii commotae taedio, Gallum obtruncant, sperantes iam, necato illo, sese in medios dormituras dies. Sed haec spes miseras frustrata est. Hera enim, ut interemptum Gallum rescivit, Ancillas intempesta nocte surgere deinceps iubet.
Anus quaedam
= As often, we meet one of the main characters in the opening word. Don't let the form anus fool you: this is a fourth declension noun, feminine in gender.

domi habebat complures Ancillas,
= The word domi is a locative form, meaning “in her home, at home.”

quas quotidie,
= The relative pronoun refers to the maids, although we don't know yet why they are in the accusative case... and we are going to have to wait quite a while to find out.

antequam lucesceret,
= Like cum, you can find antequam used with both indicative and subjunctive verbs. Used with the subjunctive, as here, it puts more emphasis on the sense of unfulfilled expectation: the day would dawn eventually, but it had not dawned yet.

ad Galli gallinacei,
= Notice that you have a preposition here, ad, which takes an accusative complement - but the phrase galli gallinacei is in the genitive case, not the accusative. So you are going to have to hold this prepositional phrase open until you get the accusative complement you need - which is going to come after this relative clause.

quem domi alebat,
= The relative clause provides further information about the galli gallinacei in the preceding phrase.

cantum excitabat ad opus.
= Now you have the accusative noun you were looking for to complement the preposition ad. The phrase ad galli gallinacei cantum (“at cock-crow”) wraps around the relative clause, quem (gallum) domi alebat. Meanwhile, this verb also explains the accusative quas from the beginning of the clause: quas (ancillas) excitabat (anus).

Ancillae tandem,
= The old woman was the subject of the previous verb, and now the maids are going to become the subjects of their own verb!

quotidiani negotii commotae taedio,
= The ablative taedio explains what it was that got the maids all worked up so that they did the thing they are about to do...

Gallum obtruncant,
= And here is the things that the maids do: they chop the head off the rooster, as you can see in Barlow's illustration for the fable.

sperantes iam,
= The participle introduces indirect statement: the maids are hopefully expecting that...

necato illo,
= Ablative absolute construction, with the pronoun referring to the rooster: illo (gallo).

sese in medios dormituras dies.
= This is an accusative plus infinitive construction in indirect statement, with sese (alternate form of se) as the accusative subject: sese dormituras (esse). Note that the prepositional phrase in medios dies wraps around the future active participle/infinitive.

Sed haec spes
= Notice that the verb sperare and spes share the same root.

miseras frustrata est.
= The deponent verb frustrata est is transitive and takes a direct object in the accusative; the feminine plural adjective, miseras, refers to the maids: miseras (ancillas).

Hera enim,
= Note the postpositive particle in second position, as you would expect.

ut interemptum Gallum rescivit,
= This is a temporal use of ut, meaning “as, as soon as," with an accusative plus infinitive construction: interemptum (esse) gallum.

Ancillas intempesta nocte surgere
= The phrase intempesta nocte means “in the dead of night.”

deinceps iubet.
= The iubet explains the accusative and infinitive: (anus) iubet ancillas surgere.

Here is the illustration of the fable by Francis Barlow:

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