Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book II - VIII. Cervus ad Boves (Perry
Cervus nemorosis excitatus latibulis,
ut venatorum effugeret instantem necem,
caeco timore proximam villam petit,
ut opportuno se bovili condidit.
hic bos latenti 'Quidnam voluisti tibi,
infelix, ultro qui ad necem cucurreris?
at ille supplex 'Vos modo inquit 'parcite:
occasione rursus erumpam data'.
spatium diei noctis excipiunt vices;
frondem bubulcus adfert, nil adeo videt:
eunt subinde et redeunt omnes rustici,
nemo animadvertit: transit etiam vilicus,
nec ille quicquam sentit. tum gaudens ferus
bubus quietis agere coepit gratias,
hospitium adverso quod praestiterint tempore.
respondit unus 'Salvum te cupimus quidem,
sed, ille qui oculos centum habet si venerit,
magno in periclo vita vertetur tua'.
haec inter ipse dominus a cena redit;
et, quia corruptos viderat nuper boves,
accedit ad praesaepe: 'Cur frondis parum est?
stramenta desunt. tollere haec aranea
quantum est laboris?' dum scrutatur singula,
cervi quoque alta conspicatur cornua;
quem convocata iubet occidi familia,
praedamque tollit. Haec significat fabula
dominum videre plurimum in rebus suis.
The Stag and the Oxen (trans. C. Smart)
A Stag unharbour'd by the hounds
Forth from his woodland covert bounds,
And blind with terror, at th' alarm
Of death, makes to a neighboring farm;
There snug conceals him in some straw,
Which in an ox's stall he saw.
"Wretch that thou art !" a bullock cried,
"That com'st within this place to hide;
By trusting man you are undone,
And into sure destruction run."
But he with suppliant voice replies:
" Do you but wink with both your eyes,
I soon shall my occasions shape,
To make from hence a fair escape."
The day is spent, the night succeeds,
The herdsman comes, the cattle feeds,
But nothing sees-then to and fro
Time after time the servants go;
Yet not a soul perceives the case.
The steward passes by the place,
Himself no wiser than the rest.
The joyful Stag his thanks addressed
To all the Oxen, that he there
Had found a refuge in despair.
"We wish you well," an Ox returned,
"But for your life are still concern'd,
For if old Argus come, no doubt,
His hundred eyes will find you out."
Scarce had the speaker made an end,
When from the supper of a friend
The master enters at the door,
And, seeing that the steers were poor
Of late, advances to the rack.
"Why were the fellow's hands so slack ?
Here's hardly any straw at all,
Brush down those cobwebs from the wall
Pray how much labour would it ask ?"
While thus he undertakes the task,
To dust, and rummage by degrees,
The Stag's exalted horns he sees:
Then calling all his folks around,
He lays him breathless on the ground.
The master, as the tale declares,
Looks sharpest to his own affairs
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.