Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book III - XVI. Cicada et Noctua (Perry
Humanitati qui se non accommodat
plerumque poenas oppetit superbiae.
Cicada acerbum noctuae conuicium
faciebat, solitae uictum in tenebris quaerere
cauoque ramo capere somnum interdiu.
Rogata est ut taceret. Multo ualidius
clamare occepit. Rursus admota prece
accensa magis est. Noctua, ut uidit sibi
nullum esse auxilium et uerba contemni sua,
hac est adgressa garrulam fallacia:
"Dormire quia me non sinunt cantus tui,
sonare citharam quos putes Apollinis,
potare est animus nectar, quod Pallas mihi
nuper donauit; si non fastidis, ueni;
una bibamus." Illa, quae arebat siti,
simul gaudebat uocem laudari suam,
cupide aduolauit. Noctua, obsepto cauo,
trepidantem consectata est et leto dedit.
Sic, uiua quod negarat, tribuit mortua.
The Owl and the Grasshopper (trans. C. Smart)
Those who will not the forms obey
To be obliging in their way,
Must often punishment abide
For their ill-nature, and their pride.
A Grasshopper, in rank ill-will,
Was very loud and very shrill
Against a sapient Owl's repose,
Who was compelled by day to doze
Within a hollow oak's retreat,
As wont by night to quest for meat--
She is desired to hold her peace.
But at the word her cries increase;
Again requested to abate
Her noise, she's more importunate.
The Owl perceiving no redress,
And that her words were less and less
Accounted of, no longer pray'd,
But thus an artifice essay'd:
" Since 'tis impossible to nod,
While harping like the Delphian god,
You charm our ears, stead of a nap,
A batch of nectar will I tap,
Which lately from Minerva came;
Now if you do not scorn the same,
Together let us bumpers ply."
The Grasshopper, extremely dry,
And, finding she had hit the key
That gain'd applause, approach'd with glee;
At which the Owl upon her flew,
And quick the trembling vixen slew.
Thus by her death she was adjudged
To give what in her life she grudged.
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.