Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book II - V. Tib. Caesar ad Atriensem (Perry
Est ardalionum quaedam Romae natio,
trepide concursans, occupata in otio,
gratis anhelans, multa agendo nil agens,
sibi molesta et aliis odiosissima.
hanc emendare, si tamen possum, volo
vera fabella; pretium est operae attendere.
Caesar Tiberius cum petens Neapolim
in Misenensem villam venisset suam,
quae, monte summo posita Luculli manu,
prospectat Siculum et respicit Tuscum mare,
ex alte cinctis unus atriensibus,
cui tunica ab umeris linteo Pelusio
erat destricta, cirris dependentibus,
perambulante laeta domino viridia,
alveolo coepit ligneo conspargere
humum aestuantem, iactans come officiolum:
sed deridetur. inde notis flexibus
praecurrit alium in xystum, sedans pulverem.
agnoscit hominem Caesar, remque intellegit:
'Heus!' inquit dominus. ille enimvero adsilit,
donationis alacer certae gaudio.
tum sic iocata est tanta maiestas ducis:
'Non multum egisti et opera nequiquam perit;
multo maioris alapae mecum veneunt'.
Caesar and His Slave (trans. C. Smart)
There is in town a certain set
Of mortals, ever in a sweat,
Who idly bustling here and there,
Have never any time to spare,
While upon nothing they discuss
With heat, and most outrageous fuss,
Plague to themselves, and to the rest
A most intolerable pest.
I will correct this stupid clan
Of busy-bodies, if I can,
By a true story; lend an ear,
'Tis worth a trifler's time to hear.
Tiberius Caesar, in his way
To Naples, on a certain day
Came to his own Misenian seat,
(Of old Lucullus's retreat,)
Which from the mountain top surveys
Two seas, by looking different ways.
Here a shrewd slave began to cringe
With dapper coat and sash of fringe,
And, as his master walk'd between
The trees upon the tufted green,
Finding the weather very hot,
Officiates with his wat'ring-pot;
And still attending through the glade,
Is ostentatious of his aid.
Caesar turns to another row,
Where neither sun nor rain could go;
He, for the nearest cut he knows,
Is still before with pot and rose.
Caesar observes him twist and shift,
And understands the fellow's drift;
" Here, you sir," says th' imperial lord
The bustler, hoping a reward,
Runs skipping up. The chief in jest
Thus the poor jackanapes address'd
"As here is no great matter done,
Small is the premium you have won:
The cuffs that make a servant free,
Are for a better man than thee."
Latin text from Phaedrus at The
Latin Library (Ad Fontes), English translations from The
Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse by Christopher Smart
(London: 1913). Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb),
contains the Latin texts of Phaedrus, with a facing English translation, along
with a valuable appendix listing all the Aesop's fables attested in Greek and/or
in Latin. Invaluable.