<< Home Page | Phaedrus Index

Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus

Book IV - XXII. De Simonide (Perry 519)

Homo doctus in se semper diuitias habet.
Simonides, qui scripsit egregium melos,
quo paupertatem sustineret facilius,
circum ire coepit urbes Asiae nobiles,
mercede accepta laudem uictorum canens.
Hoc genere quaestus postquam locuples factus est,
redire in patriam uoluit cursu pelagio;
erat autem, ut aiunt, natus in Cia insula.
ascendit nauem; quam tempestas horrida
simul et uetustas medio dissoluit mari.
Hi zonas, illi res pretiosas colligunt,
subsidium uitae. Quidam curiosior:
"Simonide, tu ex opibus nil sumis tuis?"
"Mecum" inquit "mea sunt cuncta."Tunc pauci enatant,
quia plures onere degrauati perierant.
Praedones adsunt, rapiunt quod quisque extulit,
nudos relinquunt. Forte Clazomenae prope
antiqua fuit urbs, quam petierunt naufragi.
Hic litterarum quidam studio deditus,
Simonidis qui saepe uersus legerat,
eratque absentis admirator maximus,
sermone ab ipso cognitum cupidissime
ad se recepit; ueste, nummis, familia
hominem exornauit. Ceteri tabulam suam
portant, rogantes uictum. Quos casu obuios
Simonides ut uidit: "Dixi" inquit "mea
mecum esse cuncta; uos quod rapuistis perit."

The Shipwreck of Simonides (trans. C. Smart)

A man, whose learned worth is known,
Has always riches of his own.
Simonides, who was the head
Of lyric bards, yet wrote for bread,
His circuit took through every town
In Asia of the first renown,
The praise of heroes to rehearse,
Who gave him money for his verse.
When by this trade much wealth was earn'd,
Homewards by shipping he return'd
(A Cean born, as some suppose):
On board he went, a tempest rose,
Which shook th' old ship to that degree,
She founder'd soon as out at sea.
Some purses, some their jewels tie
About them for a sure supply;
But one more curious, ask'd the seer,
"Poet, have you got nothing here ?"
"My all," says he, "is what I am."-
On this some few for safety swam
(For most o'erburden'd by their goods,
Were smother'd in the whelming floods).
The spoilers came, the wealth demand,
And leave them naked on the strand.
It happen'd for the shipwreck'd crew
An ancient city was in view,
By name Clazomena, in which
There lived a scholar learned and rich,
Who often read, his cares to ease,
The verses of Simonides,
And was a vast admirer grown
Of this great poet, though unknown.
Him by his converse when he traced,
He with much heartiness embraced,
And soon equipp'd the bard anew,
With servants, clothes, and money too
The rest benevolence implored,
With case depicted on a board:
Which when Simonides espied,
"I plainly told you all," he cried,
"That all my wealth was in myself;
As for your chattels and your pelf.
On which ye did so much depend,
They're come to nothing in the end."

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.