Mice Organize to Defeat Weasels. They Still Lose–The Fabulous Babrius

Valerius Babrius Fabulist: Fable 31: Weasel and Mouse War. This goes well with our tales of Frogs and Mice in Aesop and our working commentary on the Homeric Batrakhomuomakhia. Why weasels and not cats?

“The weasels and mice used to wage endless war
With one another, savage conflict filled with blood.
The weasels were winning and the mice figured that the
Reason was that they were lacking outstanding generals
And they always faced their dangers in disorder.
So then they chose as general those among them best
In terms of birth, strength and intelligence, and those best at fighting.
They set the mice into order and selected tribes,
Units, and phalanxes, just as men do.
When they were all stationed and in close formation,
A mouse, emboldened, called out a weasel,
And the generals led them forth, each marked out
with chips from walls on top of their foreheads,
they stood out among the assembled mass.
Again a rout plagued the mice.
The rest of them returned save to their holes,
But the glorious chips on the top of their heads
Would not allow the retreating generals in their homes.
They alone were seized right in front of their homes.
The victory was total and a trophy was erected,
Once each weasel dragged off a general mouse.
The moral of the story is this: to live without danger
Instead of being famous, it is better to be unknown.”

Γαλαῖ ποτ’ εἶχον καὶ μύες πρὸς ἀλλήλους
ἄσπονδον ἀεὶ πόλεμον αἱμάτων πλήρη.
γαλαῖ δ’ ἐνίκων. οἱ μύες δὲ τῆς ἥττης
ἐδόκουν ὑπάρχειν αἰτίην σφίσιν ταύτην,
ὅτι στρατηγοὺς οὐκ ἔχοιεν ἐκδήλους,
ἀεὶ δ’ ἀτάκτως ὑπομένουσι κινδύνους.
εἵλοντο τοίνυν τοὺς γένει τε καὶ ῥώμῃ
γνώμῃ τ’ ἀρίστους, εἰς μάχην τε γενναίους,
οἳ σφᾶς ἐκόσμουν καὶ διεῖλον εἰς φρήτρας
λόχους τε καὶ φάλαγγας, ὡς παρ’ ἀνθρώποις.
ἐπεὶ δ’ ἐτάχθη πάντα καὶ συνηθροίσθη,
καί τις γαλῆν μῦς προὐκαλεῖτο θαρσήσας,
οἵ τε στρατηγοὶ λεπτὰ πηλίνων τοίχων
κάρφη μετώποις ἁρμόσαντες ἀκραίοις
ἡγοῦντο, παντὸς ἐκφανέστατοι πλήθους.
πάλιν δὲ φύζα τοὺς μύας κατειλήφει.
ἄλλοι μὲν οὖν σωθέντες ἦσαν ἐν τρώγλαις,
τοὺς δὲ στρατηγοὺς εἰστρέχοντας οὐκ εἴα
τὰ περισσὰ κάρφη τῆς ὀπῆς ἔσω δύνειν.
[μόνοι θ’ ἑάλωσαν αὐτόθι μυχῶν πρόσθεν]
νίκη δ’ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς καὶ τρόπαιον εἱστήκει,
γαλῆς ἑκάστης μῦν στρατηγὸν ἑλκούσης.
Λέγει δ’ ὁ μῦθος “εἰς τὸ ζῆν ἀκινδύνως
τῆς λαμπρότητος ηὑτέλεια βελτίων.”

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