Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book IV - II. Mustela et Mus (Perry
Ioculare tibi uidemur: et sane leui,
dum nil habemus maius, calamo ludimus.
Sed diligenter intuere has nenias;
quantum in pusillis utilitatem reperies!
Non semper ea sunt quae uidentur: decipit
frons prima multos, rara mens intellegit
quod interiore condidit cura angulo.
Hoc ne locutus sine mercede existimer,
fabellam adiciam de mustela et muribus.
Mustela, cum annis et senecta debilis
mures ueloces non ualeret adsequi,
inuoluit se farina et obscuro loco
abiecit neclegenter. Mus, escam putans,
adsiluit et comprensus occubuit neci;
alter similiter, deinde perit et tertius.
post aliquot uenit saeculis retorridus,
qui saepe laqueos et muscipula effugerat;
proculque insidias cernens hostis callidi,
"Sic ualeas," inquit, "ut farina es, quae iaces!"
Mustela et Mus (trans. C. Smart)
To you, who 've graver things bespoke,
This seems no better than a joke,
And light for mere amusement made;
Yet still we drive the scribbling trade,
And from the pen our pleasure find,
When we've no greater things to mind.
Yet if you look with care intense,
These tales your toil shall recompense;
Appearance is not always true,
And thousands err by such a view.
'Tis a choice spirit that has pried
Where clean contrivance chose to hide;
That this is not at random said,
I shall produce upon this head
A fable of an arch device,
About the Weasel and the Mice.
A Weasel, worn with years, and lame,
That could not overtake its game,
Now with the nimble Mice to deal,
Disguised herself with barley meal;
Then negligent her limbs she spread
In a sly nook, and lay for dead.
A Mouse that thought she there might feed,
Leapt up, and perish'd in the deed;
A second in like manner died;
A third, and sundry more beside:
Then comes the brindled Mouse, a chap
That oft escaped both snare and trap,
And seeing how the trick was played,
Thus to his crafty foe he said:-
"So may'st thou prosper day and night,
As thou art not an errant bite."
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.