The Battle of Frogs and Mice, Part 3: A Mouse Describes his Diet

Previously, our amphibious friend Bellowmouth introduced himself to a certain mouse at the edge of a pond.  Now the mouse responds.  There are some textual problems here. We have decided to include the interpolations.  Who doesn’t want more Batrakhomuomakhia?

Then Crumbthief [Psikharpaks] answered and spoke:
“Why do you seek out my lineage? It’s known
To all men, gods and flying things in the sky.
I am known as Crumbthief, and I am the son
Of great-hearted Breadnibbler and my mother Mill-Licker,
who was daughter of king Ham-nibbler.
She birthed me in a hidey-hole and nourished me with food
like figs and nuts and all kinds of delectables.                                        30
How could you make me your friend when our nature is so different?


Your life is in the water—but it is my custom
to nibble on all the things men have. And I never miss out
on thrice-kneaded bread in the well-woven basket.
And a long-robed flat-cake dressed out with sesame chees
never escapes me. Neither does a ham-slice, a white-robed liver
nor just-curdled cheese from sweet-milk
nor the holy honey-cake which the even the gods desire,
nor the things cooks carve out for mortals’ feasts                                   40
as they season the dishes with every kind of spice.

[41-53 are thought to be a Byzantine interpolation

I have never fled the dread song of war–
But instead I head straight into the danger and join the forefighters.
I don’t fear people, even when they have a great body;
No, I run up to the their beds and bite the end of their fingers.
Then I take their ham [?] and no pain takes over the man,
No one wakes from sleep when I bite them.
But I do fear two things over the whole earth:
the raven (?) and the weasel who bring me great grief
and the grievous mousetrap where a deceptive fate awaits me.                    50
But I fear the weasel more than anything, that beast who is best
At ferreting a hole-dweller out of his hole.]
I don’t eat cabbage, weeds and pumpkins;
And I don’t munch on pale beets and parsley.
Such things are the delicacies of pond-dwellers like you.”

Τὸν δ’ αὖ Ψιχάρπαξ ἀπαμείβετο φώνησέν τε•
25 τίπτε γένος τοὐμὸν ζητεῖς; δῆλον δ’ ἐν ἅπασιν
26 ἀνθρώποις τε θεοῖς τε καὶ οὐρανίοις πετεηνοῖς.
27 Ψιχάρπαξ μὲν ἐγὼ κικλήσκομαι• εἰμὶ δὲ κοῦρος
28 Τρωξάρταο πατρὸς μεγαλήτορος• ἡ δέ νυ μήτηρ
29 Λειχομύλη, θυγάτηρ Πτερνοτρώκτου βασιλῆος.
30 γείνατο δ’ ἐν καλύβῃ με καὶ ἐξεθρέψατο βρωτοῖς
31 σύκοις καὶ καρύοις καὶ ἐδέσμασι παντοδαποῖσιν.
32 πῶς δὲ φίλον ποιῇ με, τὸν ἐς φύσιν οὐδὲν ὁμοῖον;
33 σοὶ μὲν γὰρ βίος ἐστὶν ἐν ὕδασιν• αὐτὰρ ἔμοιγε

34 ὅσσα παρ’ ἀνθρώποις τρώγειν ἔθος• οὐδέ με λήθει
35 ἄρτος τρισκοπάνιστος ἀπ’ εὐκύκλου κανέοιο,
36 οὐδὲ πλακοῦς τανύπεπλος ἔχων πολὺ σησαμότυρον,
37 οὐ τόμος ἐκ πτέρνης, οὐχ ἥπατα λευκοχίτωνα,
38 οὐ τυρὸς νεόπηκτος ἀπὸ γλυκεροῖο γάλακτος,
39 οὐ χρηστὸν μελίτωμα, τὸ καὶ μάκαρες ποθέουσιν,
40 οὐδ’ ὅσα πρὸς θοίνας μερόπων τεύχουσι μάγειροι,
41 κοσμοῦντες χύτρας ἀρτύμασι παντοδαποῖσιν.
[42 οὐδέποτε πτολέμοιο κακὴν ἀπέφυγον ἀϋτήν,
43 ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς μετὰ μῶλον ἰὼν προμάχοισιν ἐμίχθην.
44 ἄνθρωπον οὐ δέδια καί περ μέγα σῶμα φοροῦντα,
45 ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ λέκτρον ἰὼν ἄκρον δάκτυλον δάκνω,
46 καὶ πτέρνης λαβόμην, καὶ οὐ πόνος ἵκανεν ἄνδρα,
47 νήδυμος οὐκ ἀπέφυγεν ὕπνος δάκνοντος ἐμεῖο.
48 ἀλλὰ δύω μάλα πάντα τὰ δείδια πᾶσαν ἐπ’ αἶαν,
49 κίρκον καὶ γαλέην, οἵ μοι μέγα πένθος ἄγουσιν,
50 καὶ παγίδα στονόεσσαν, ὅπου δολόεις πέλε πότμος•
51 πλεῖστον δὴ γαλέην περιδείδια, ἥ τις ἀρίστη,
52 ἣ καὶ τρωγλοδύνοντα κατὰ τρώγλην ἐρεείνει. ]
53 οὐ τρώγω ῥαφάνους, οὐ κράμβας, οὐ κολοκύντας,
54 οὐ σεύτλοις χλωροῖς ἐπιβόσκομαι, οὐδὲ σελίνοις•
55 ταῦτα γὰρ ὑμέτερ’ ἐστὶν ἐδέσματα τῶν κατὰ λίμνην.


A Frog meets a mouse at the edge of a pond,
tells him his name and asks his in turn.
Who knows my name says the mouse? Tout le monde!
You are what you eat, as you will soon learn.


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