Babrius, 98: Declawed By Love
“A lion, seized with lust for a young girl
proposed to her through her father. In response,
the old man spoke without enmity or rage
“I offer her to marry and I do it with joy.
Who would not join his family to a ruler and a lion?
Yet the thoughts of young women and maidens shift.
You have such enormous claws! And you have such
gigantic teeth! How could any girl dare
to embrace you without fear? How could she see you without weeping!?
So, think about this if you desire a marriage:
Don’t be a wild animal, but a bridegroom instead.”
The lion floated aloft on the wings of this promise
He tore out his teeth, and he had himself declawed.
Then he showed himself anew to his potential father-in-law,
asking for his bride. But each person in the household attacked!
one with a club, another with a stone hurled by hand.
And so the lion fell there still, dying like a pig,
after he learned the hard way the old man’s belief:
lions shouldn’t have sex with people
and people shouldn’t have sex with lions either.”
Λέων ἁλοὺς ἔρωτι παιδὸς ὡραίης
παρὰ πατρὸς ἐμνήστευε. τῷ δ᾿ πρεσβύτης
οὐδέν τι δύσνουν οὐδ᾿ ὕπουλον ἐμφήνας
“δίδωμι γῆμαι” φησι “καὶ διδοὺς χαίρω·
τίς οὐ δυνάστῃ καὶ λέοντι κηδεύσει;
φρένες δὲ δειλαὶ παρθένων τε καὶ παίδων·
σὺ δ᾿ ἡλίκους μὲν ὄνυχας, ἡλίκους δ᾿ ἥμιν
φέρεις ὀδόντας, τίς κόρη σε τολμήσει
ἀφόβως περιλαβεῖν; τίς δ᾿ ἰδοῦσα μὴ κλαύσῃ;
πρὸς ταῦτα δὴ σκόπησον, εἰ γάμου χρῄζεις,
μηδ᾿ ἄγριος θὴρ ἀλλὰ νυμφίος γίνου.”
ὁ δὲ πτερωθεὶς τῇ δόσει τε πιστεύσας
ἐξεῖλε τοὺς ὀδόντας, εἶθ᾿ ὑπὸ σμίλης
ἀπωνυχίσθη, τῷ τε πενθερῷ δείξας
τὴν παῖδ᾿ ἀπῄτει. τὸν δ᾿ ἕκαστος ἠλοία,
ῥοπάλῳ τις ἢ λίθῳ τις ἐκ χερὸς παίων,
ἔκειτο δ᾿ ἀργὸς ὥσπερ ὗς ἀποθνῄσκων,
γέροντος ἀνδρὸς ποικίλου τε τὴν γνώμην
σοφίῃ διδαχθεὶς ὡς ἄμικτον ἀνθρώποις
ἐρᾶν λεόντων ἢ λέοντας ἀνθρώπων.