Ambivalent Donkeys and Deceptive Wolves, Two Fables from Phaedrus

Two Fables from Phaedrus that have nothing to say about anything. Really.

The Ass to the old Shepherd, 1.15

When a state undergoes a change
The poor will change their ways
In nothing but the name of their king.
This little story illustrates the truth of such a thing.
A timid old man was taking an ass to meadow to graze
He was frightened by an enemy’s sudden shout,
To avoid capture, he was urging the donkey to get out.
But the slow one said, “Do you think, please
That your foe would put a double-load on me?”
The old man said no, and the ass said “what difference is a name
when the baskets I must bear are ever the same?”

Asinus ad senem pastorem.

In principatu commutando saepius
Nil praeter domini mores mutant pauperes.
Id esse verum parva haec fabella indicat.
Asellum in prato timidus pascebat senex.
Is hostium clamore subito territus
Suadebat asino fugere, ne possent capi.
At ille lentus: Quaeso, num binas mihi
Clitellas impositurum victorem putas?
Senex negavit. Ergo quid refert mea
Cui serviam clitellas cum portem meas?


The Sheep, the Deer and the Wolf, 1.16

“When a con-man calls dishonest men to back a debt
He looks not to resolve a case, but to spring a trap instead.
A deer was asking a sheep for a load of wheat
With a wolf to back him: But she suspected a kind of cheat.
“To thieve and leave is the wolf’s accustomed way
And you, deer, with headlong speed depart the fray.
Wherever would I find you on collection day?”

Ovis, cervus, et lupus.

Fraudator homines cum advocat sponsum improbos,
Non rem expedire, sed mala videre expetit.
Ovem rogabat cervus modium tritici
Lupo sponsore. At illa praemetuens dolum:
Rapere atque abire semper assuevit lupus,
Tu de conspectu fugere veloci impetu;
Ubi vos requiram cum dies advenerit?


[With thanks to Rick LaFleur with some help on the Latin!]

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