Hungry Dogs and Elderly Lion: Two Fables from Phaedrus

Phaedrus Fabulae

 

The Hungry Dogs, 1.20

“A foolish plan not only lacks a happy end,
But it invokes doom too for mortal men.
Some dogs saw a hide half sunk in a stream,
In order to get it and eat it with ease
They began to drink the water up: but they burst
And died before they could grab what they wanted first.”

 

 

I.20. Canes Famelici

Stultum consilium non modo effectu caret,
sed ad perniciem quoque mortalis devocat.
Corium depressum in fluvio viderunt canes.
Id ut comesse extractum possent facilius,
aquam coepere ebibere: sed rupti prius
periere quam quod petierant contingerent.

The Elderly Lion, 1.21

“Whoever has lost his ancient dignity
Is a joke to baser men in the midst of grave mistake.
A lion worn by years and deprived of his strength,
Was at last lying prone and ready to take
His last breath as a boar came foaming with bright teeth
And avenged an ancient wound with a strike.
Soon a bull gored him too with horns beneath
His enemy flesh. Even a donkey, when he knew
He could hurt him without harm, kicked his head anew.
But as he breathed out at last, the lion said:
“Without merit I endured the insults of the strong.
But, because of you, nature’s joke, I now seem twice-dead!”

elderly-lion

I.21. Leo Senex

Quicumque amisit dignitatem pristinam,
ignavis etiam iocus est in casu gravi.
Defectus annis et desertus viribus
leo cum iaceret spiritum extremum trahens,
aper fulmineis spumans venit dentibus,
et vindicavit ictu veterem iniuriam.
Infestis taurus mox confodit cornibus
hostile corpus. Asinus, ut vidit ferum
impune laedi, calcibus frontem extudit.
At ille exspirans “Fortis indigne tuli
mihi insultare: Te, Naturae dedecus,
quod ferre certe cogor bis videor mori”.

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