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Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus

Book V - VII. Princeps Tibicen (Perry 529)

Vbi uanus animus aura captus friuola
arripuit insolentem sibi fiduciam,
facile ad derisum stulta leuitas ducitur.
Princeps tibicen notior paulo fuit,
operam Bathyllo solitus in scaena dare.
Is forte ludis, non satis memini quibus,
dum pegma rapitur, concidit casu graui
necopinus et sinistram fregit tibiam,
duas cum dextras maluisset perdere.
Inter manus sublatus et multum gemens
domum refertur. Aliquot menses transeunt,
ad sanitatem dum uenit curatio.
Vt spectatorum molle est et lepidum genus,
desiderari coepit, cuius flatibus
solebat excitari saltantis uigor.
Erat facturus ludos quidam nobilis.
Is, ut incipiebat Princeps ad baculum ingredi,
perducit pretio precibus ut tantummodo
ipso ludorum ostenderet sese die.
Qui simul aduenit, rumor de tibicine
fremit in theatro: quidam adfirmant mortuum,
quidam in conspectum proditurum sine mora.
Aulaeo misso, deuolutis tonitribus,
di sunt locuti more translaticio.
Tunc chorus ignotum modo reducto canticum
insonuit, cuius haec fuit sententia:
In plausus consurrectum est. Iactat basia
tibicen; gratulari fautores putat.
Equester ordo stultum errorem intellegit
magnoque risu canticum repeti iubet.
Iteratur illud. Homo meus se in pulpito
totum prosternit. Plaudit inludens eques;
rogare populus hunc choro ueniam aestimat.
Vt uero cuneis notuit res omnibus,
Princeps, ligato crure niuea fascia,
niueisque tunicis, niueis etiam calceis,
superbiens honore diuinae domus,
ab uniuersis capite est protrusus foras.

Prince the Piper (trans. C. Smart)

A little, friv'lous, abject mind,
Pleased with the rabble, puff'd with wind,
When once, as fast as pride presumes,
Itself with vanity it plumes,
Is by fond lightness brought with ease
To any ridicule you please.
One Prince, a piper to the play,
Was rather noted in his way,
As call'd upon to show his art,
Whene'er Bathyllus did his part,
He being at a certain fair,
(I do not well remember where,)
While they pull'd down the booth in haste,
Not taking heed, his leg displaced,
He from the scaffold fell so hard-
(Would he his pipes had rather marr'd!
Though they, poor fellow! were to him
As dear almost as life and limb).
Borne by the kind officious crowd,
Home he's conducted, groaning loud.
Some months elapsed before he found
Himself recover'd of his wound:
Meantime, according to their way,
The droll frequenters of the play
Had a great miss of him, whose touch
The dancers' spirits raised so much.
A certain man of high renown
Was just preparing for the town
Some games the mob to entertain,
When Prince began to walk again;
Whom, what with bribes and pray'rs, his grace?
Prevail'd upon to show his face
In this performance, by all means-
And while he waits behind the scenes,
A rumour through the house is spread,
By certain, that "the piper's dead."
Others cried out, "The man is here,
And will immediately appear."
The curtain draws, the lightnings flash,
The gods speak out their usual trash.
An ode, not to the Piper known,
Was to the chorus leader shown,
Which he was order'd to repeat,
And which was closed with this conceit--
"Receive with joy, O loyal Rome,
Thy Prince just rescued from his tomb."
They all at once stand up and clap,
At which my most facetious chap
Kisses his hand, and scrapes and bows
To his good patrons in the house.
First the equestrian order smoke
The fool's mistake, and high in joke,
Command the song to be encored;
Which ended, flat upon the board
The Piper falls, the knights acclaim;
The people think that Prince's aim
Is for a crown of bays at least.
Now all the seats perceived the jest,
And with his bandage white as snow,
White frock, white pumps, a perfect beauty
Proud of the feats he had achieved,
And these high honours he received,
With one unanimous huzza,
Poor Prince was kick'd out of the play.

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.