Giving Birth: Some Fables from Phaedrus

A Woman Giving Birth, Phaedrus 1.18

No one happily returns to the place of her wound
When the months had passed and birth was soon
A woman was lying on the ground, releasing tremulous moans.
Her husband was trying to get her to climb onto her bed
So she could more easily deliver nature’s burden.
“No,” she said, “I don’t think an evil can be relieved
In the very place where it was first conceived.”

I.18. Mulier Parturiens

Nemo libenter recolit qui laesit locum.
Instante partu mulier actis mensibus
humi iacebat, flebilis gemitus ciens.
Vir est hortatus, corpus lecto reciperet,
onus naturae melius quo deponeret.
“Minime” inquit “illo posse confido loco
malum finiri quo conceptum est initio”.


A Dog Giving Birth

“The sweet whispers of an evil man are really a trap,
We should avoid them: the following verses tell us that.
When a dog in labor asked another
If she might enter her home to become a mother
She entered easily and begged again in pleas
Asking for a bit more time, to take her leave
When the pups were strong enough to flee.
When this time too had come and gone
And she asked more strongly for them to move on,
She said if you are equal to my pack all alone,
Then I will gladly now leave your home.”

I.19. Canis Parturiens

Habent insidias hominis blanditiae mali;
quas ut vitemus, versus subiecti monent.
Canis parturiens cum rogasset alteram,
ut fetum in eius tugurio deponeret,
facile impetravit. Dein reposcenti locum
preces admovit, tempus exorans breve,
dum firmiores catulos posset ducere.
Hoc quoque consumpto flagitari validius
cubile coepit. “Si mihi et turbae meae
par” inquit “esse potueris, cedam loco”.

2 thoughts on “Giving Birth: Some Fables from Phaedrus

  1. I like the punchline, and the rhyming couplet in the translation, of “Mulier Parturiens”! But I mentioned on Twitter that “when the months had past” should instead be “passed”, so just noting it here, too, as you told me to do.

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