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Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus

Book IV - XXI. Vulpis et Draco (Perry 518)

Vulpes cubile fodiens dum terram eruit
agitque pluris altius cuniculos,
peruenit ad draconis speluncam ultimam,
custodiebat qui thesauros abditos.
Hunc simul aspexit: "Oro ut inprudentiae
des primum ueniam; deinde si pulchre uides
quam non conueniens aurum sit uitae meae,
respondeas clementer: quem fructum capis
hoc ex labore, quodue tantum est praemium
ut careas somno et aeuum in tenebris exigas?"
"Nullum" inquit ille, "uerum hoc ab summo mihi
Ioue adtributum est." "Ergo nec sumis tibi
nec ulli donas quidquam?" "Sic Fatis placet."
"Nolo irascaris, libere si dixero:
dis est iratis natus qui est similis tibi."
Abiturus illuc quo priores abierunt,
quid mente caeca miserum torques spiritum?
Tibi dico, auare, gaudium heredis tui,
qui ture superos, ipsum te fraudas cibo,
qui tristis audis musicum citharae sonum,
quem tibiarum macerat iucunditas,
obsoniorum pretia cui gemitum exprimunt,
qui dum quadrantes aggeras patrimonio
caelum fatigas sordido periurio,
qui circumcidis omnem inpensam funeris,
Libitina ne quid de tuo faciat lucri.

The Fox and the Dragon (trans. C. Smart)

A Fox was throwing up the soil,
And while with his assiduous toil
He burrow'd deep into the ground,
A Dragon in his den he found,
A-watching hidden treasure there,
Whom seeing, Renard speaks him fair:
" First, for your pardon I apply
For breaking on your privacy;
Then, as you very plainly see
That gold is of no use to me,
Your gentle leave let me obtain
To ask you, what can be the gain
Of all this care, and what the fruit,
That you should not with sleep recruit
Your spirits, but your life consume
Thus in an everlasting gloom ?"
"'Tis not my profit here to stay,"
He cries; " but I must Jove obey."
"What! will you therefore nothing take
Yourself, nor others welcome make ?"
"Ev'n so the fates decree." - "Then, sir,
Have patience, whilst I do aver
That he who like affections knows
Is born with all the gods his foes.
Since to that place you needs must speed,
Where all your ancestors precede,
Why in the blindness of your heart
Do you torment your noble part ?"
All this to thee do I indite,
Thou grudging churl, thy heir's delight,
Who robb'st the gods of incense due,
Thyself of food and raiment too;
Who hear'st the harp with sullen mien,
To whom the piper gives the spleen;
Who'rt full of heavy groans and sighs
When in their price provisions rise;
Who with thy frauds heaven's patience tire
To make thy heap a little higher,
And, lest death thank thee, in thy will
Hast tax'd the undertaker's bill.

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.