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Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus

Book V - V. Scurra et Rusticus (Perry 527)

Prauo fauore labi mortales solent
et, pro iudicio dum stant erroris sui,
ad paenitendum rebus manifestis agi.
Facturus ludos diues quidam nobilis
proposito cunctos inuitauit praemio,
quam quisque posset ut nouitatem ostenderet.
Venere artifices laudis ad certamina;
quos inter scurra, notus urbano sale,
habere dixit se genus spectaculi
quod in theatro numquam prolatum foret.
Dispersus rumor ciuitatem concitat.
Paulo ante uacua turbam deficiunt loca.
In scaena uero postquam solus constitit
sine apparatu, nullis adiutoribus,
silentium ipsa fecit expectatio.
Ille in sinum repente demisit caput,
et sic porcelli uocem est imitatus sua,
uerum ut subesse pallio contenderent
et excuti iuberent. Quo facto, simul
nihil est repertum, multis onerant laudibus
hominemque plausu prosequuntur maximo.
Hoc uidit fieri rusticus: "Non mehercule
me uincet" inquit, et statim professus est
idem facturum melius se postridie.
Fit turba maior. Iam fauor mentes tenet
et derisuros, non spectaturos, scias.
Vterque prodit. Scurra degrunnit prior,
mouetque plausus et clamores suscitat.
Tunc simulans sese uestimentis rusticus
porcellum obtegere (quod faciebat scilicet,
sed, in priore quia nil compererant, latens),
peruellit aurem uero, quem celauerat,
et cum dolore uocem naturae exprimit.
Adclamat populus scurram multo similius
imitatum, et cogit rusticum trudi foras.
At ille profert ipsum porcellum e sinu,
turpemque aperto pignore errorem probans:
"En hic declarat quales sitis iudices!"

The Buffoon and Country-fellow (trans. C. Smart)

In ev'ry age, in each profession,
Men err the most by prepossession;
But when the thing is clearly shown,
Is fairly urged, and fully known,
We soon applaud what we deride.
And penitence succeeds to pride.
A certain noble, on a day,
Having a mind to show away,
Invited by reward the mimes
And play'rs and tumblers of the times,
And built a large commodious stage
For the choice spirits of the age:
But, above all, amongst the rest
There came a genius who profess'd
To have a curious trick in store
That never was performed before.
Through all the town this soon got air,
And the whole house was like a fair;
But soon his entry as he made,
Without a prompter or parade,
'Twas all expectance and suspense,
And silence gagg'd the audience.
He, stooping down and looking big,
So wondrous well took off a pig,
All swore 'twas serious, and no joke,
For that, or underneath his cloak
He had concealed some grunting elf,
Or was a real hog himself
A search was made-no pig was found-
With thund'ring claps the seats resound,
And pit, and box, and gall'ries roar
With--" 0 rare! bravo !" and " encore."
Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
Who yet knew something of the town,
Beheld the mimic of his whim,
And on the morrow challenged him
Declaring to each beau and belle
That he this grunter would excel.
The morrow came-the crowd was greater--
But prejudice and rank ill-nature
Usurp'd the minds of men and wenches,
Who came to hiss and break the benches.
The mimic took his usual station,
And squeak'd with general approbation;
Again "Encore! encore!" they cry-
" 'Tis quite the thing, 'tis very high."
Old Grouse conceal'd, amidst this racket,
A real pig beneath his jacket-
Then forth he came, and with his nail
He pinch'd the urchin by the tail.
The tortured pig, from out his throat,
Produced the genuine nat'ral note.
All bellow'd out 'twas very sad!
Sure never stuff was half so bad.
" That like a pig!" each cried in scoff;
"Pshaw! nonsense! blockhead! off! off! off!"
The mimic was extoll'd, and Grouse
Was hiss'd, and catcall'd from the house.
" Soft ye, a word before I go,"
Quoth honest Hodge; and stooping low,
Produced the pig, and thus aloud
Bespoke the stupid partial crowd:
"Behold, and learn from this poor cratur,
How much you critics know of natur!"

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.