Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book III - XVII. Arbores in Deorum Tutela (Perry
Olim quas uellent esse in tutela sua
diui legerunt arbores. Quercus Ioui,
at myrtus Veneri placuit, Phoebo laurea,
pinus Cybebae, populus celsa Herculi.
Minerua admirans quare steriles sumerent
interrogauit. Causam dixit Iuppiter:
"Honorem fructu ne uideamur uendere."
"At mehercules narrabit quod quis uoluerit,
oliua nobis propter fructum est gratior."
Tum sic deorum genitor atque hominum sator:
"O nata, merito sapiens dicere omnibus.
Nisi utile est quod facimus, stulta est gloria."
Nihil agere quod non prosit fabella admonet.
The Trees Protected (trans. C. Smart)
The gods took certain trees (th' affair
Was some time since) into their care.
The oak was best approved by Jove,
The myrtle by the queen of love;
The god of music and the day
Vouchsafed to patronise the bay;
The pine Cybele chanced to please,
And the tall poplar Hercules.
Minerva upon this inquired
Why they all barren trees admired ?
" The cause," says Jupiter, "is plain,
Lest we give honour up for gain."
" Let every one their fancy suit,
I choose the olive for its fruit."
The sire of gods and men replies,
" Daughter, thou shalt be reckon'd wise
By all the world, and justly too;
For whatsover things we do,
If not a life of useful days,
How vain is all pretence to praise !"
Whate'er experiments you try,
Have some advantage in your eye.
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.