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Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus

Book IV - XXVI. Simonides Poeta (Perry 522)

Quantum ualerent inter homines litterae
dixi superius; quantus nunc illis honos
a superis sit tributus tradam memoriae.
Simonides idem ille de quo rettuli,
uictori laudem cuidam pyctae ut scriberet
certo conductus pretio, secretum petit.
Exigua cum frenaret materia impetum,
usus poetae more est et licentia
atque interposuit gemina Ledae sidera,
auctoritatem similis referens gloriae.
Opus adprobauit; sed mercedis tertiam
accepit partem. Cum relicuas posceret:
"Illi" inquit "reddent quorum sunt laudis duae.
Verum, ut ne irate te dimissum sentiant,
ad cenam mihi promitte; cognatos uolo
hodie inuitare, quorum es in numero mihi."
Fraudatus quamuis et dolens iniuria,
ne male dimissus gratiam corrumperet,
promisit. Rediit hora dicta, recubuit.
Splendebat hilare poculis conuiuium,
magno apparatu laeta resonabat domus,
repente duo cum iuuenes, sparsi puluere,
sudore multo diffluentes, corpore
humanam supra formam, cuidam seruolo
mandant ut ad se prouocet Simonidem;
illius interesse ne faciat moram.
Homo perturbatus excitat Simonidem.
Vnum promorat uix pedem triclinio,
ruina camarae subito oppressit ceteros;
nec ulli iuuenes sunt reperti ad ianuam.
Vt est uulgatus ordo narratae rei
omnes scierunt numinum praesentiam
uati dedisse uitam mercedis loco.

The Escape of Simonides (trans. C. Smart)

Th' attention letters can engage,
Ev'n from a base degenerate age,
I've shown before; and now shall show
Their lustre in another view,
And tell a memorable tale,
How much they can with heav'n prevail,
Simonides, the very same
We lately had a call to name,
Agreed for such a sum to blaze
A certain famous champion's praise.
He therefore a retirement sought,
But found the theme on which he wrote
So scanty, he was forced to use
Th' accustomed license of the muse,
And introduced and praise bestow'd
On Leda's sons to raise his ode;
With these the rather making free,
As heroes in the same degree.
He warranted his work, and yet
Could but one third of payment get.
Upon demanding all the due,
" Let them," says he, "pay t' other two,
Who take two places in the song;
But lest you think I do you wrong
And part in dudgeon-I invite
Your company to sup this night,
For then my friends and kin I see,
'Mongst which I choose to reckon thee."
Choused and chagrined, yet shunning blame,
He promised, set the hour, and came;
As fearful lest a favour spurn'd
Should to an open breach be turn'd.
The splendid banquet shone with plate,
And preparations full of state
Made the glad house with clamors roar-
When on a sudden at the door
Two youths , with sweat and dust besmear'd,
Above the human form appear'd,
And charged forthwith a little scout
To bid Simonides come out,
That 'twas his interest not to stay.-
The slave, in trouble and dismay,
Roused from his seat the feasting bard,
Who scarce had stirr'd a single yard
Before the room at once fell in,
And crushed the champion and his kin.
No youths before the door are found.-
The thing soon spread the country round;
And when each circumstance was weighed,
They knew the gods that visit made,
And saved the poet's life in lieu
Of those two-thirds which yet were due.

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.