The Donkey Who Wanted to be A Dog

Babrius 129

“Someone once was raising a donkey and a cute little dog.
The dog loved playing by jumping rhythmically
Around his master in clever ways.
But the donkey would wear itself out working
Grinding wheat, dear Demeter’s gift, in the evening
After spending the day dragging wood from the hills
And from the field anything else they needed.
Even when standing to eat in the courtyard
At his barley, he was like a criminal in bonds.

Heart-bitten and groaning about his fate
He watched the pup in all his luxury
And just broke his ropes and ran from the feed-trough
Straight into the middle of the yard, kicking randomly.
He was trying to fawn and wanted to leap around like the dog.

He burst into the house and broke the table
And all the furniture and he went to his dining master
Trying to kiss him and he began to climb into his lap.
When the human servants saw him in the greatest dangers,
They went to save him from the donkey’s very jaws.
They attacked him from every angle with clubs,
Assailing him and beating him without pity.

And so the donkey spoke with his final breath
I have suffered what I earned in my bad luck
Why didn’t I stay to my kind with the asses
Instead of pursuing my ruin like a little pup?”

Ὄνον τις ἔτρεφε καὶ κυνίδιον ὡραῖον,
τὸ κυνίδιον δ᾿ ἔχαιρε παῖζον εὐρύθμως,
τὸν δεσπότην τε ποικίλως περισκαῖρον·
κἀκεῖνος <αὖ> κατεῖχεν αὐτὸ τοῖς κόλποις.
ὁ δ᾿ ὄνος γ᾿ ἔκαμνεν ἑσπέρης ἀλετρεύων
πυρὸν φίλης Δήμητρος, Ἡμέρης δ᾿ ὕλην
κατῆγ᾿ ἀφ᾿ ὕψους, ἐξ ἀγροῦ θ᾿ ὅσων χρείη·
καὶ μὴν ἐν αὐλῇ παρὰ φάτναισι δεσμώτης
ἔτρωγε κριθὰς χόρτον, ὥσπερ εἰώθει.
δηχθεὶς δὲ θυμῷ καὶ περισσὸν οἰμώξας,
σκύμνον θεωρῶν ἁβρότητι σὺν πάσῃ,
φάτνης ὀνείης δεσμὰ καὶ κάλους ῥήξας
ἐς μέσσον αὐλῆς ἦλθ᾿ ἄμετρα λακτίζων.
σαίνων δ᾿ ὁποῖα καὶ θέλων περισκαίρειν,
τὴν μὲν τράπεζαν ἔθλασ᾿ ἐς μέσον βάλλων
ἅπαντα δ᾿ εὐθὺς ἠλόησε τὰ σκεύη·
δειπνοῦντα δ᾿ ἰθὺς ἦλθε δεσπότην κύσσων,
νώτοις ἐπεμβάς· ἐσχάτου δὲ κινδύνου
θεράποντες ἐν μέσοισιν ὡς <τὸν ἄνδρ᾿> εἶδον,
ἐσάωσαν <αὐτὸν ἐξ ὄνου γνάθων ὄντως>·
κρανέης δὲ κορύναις ἄλλος ἄλλοθεν κρούων
ἔθεινον, ὥστε καὐτὸς ὕστατ᾿ ἐκπνείων
“ἔτλην” ἔλεξεν “οἷα χρή με, δυσδαίμων·
τί γὰρ παρ᾿ οὐρήεσσιν οὐκ ἐπωλεύμην,
βαιῷ δ᾿ ὁ μέλεος κυνιδίῳ παρισούμην;”

Friedrich Wilhelm Keyl, “Donkeys on a moorland track”, 1865

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