Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book I - II. Ranae Regem Petunt (Perry
Athenae cum florerent aequis legibus,
procax libertas civitatem miscuit,
frenumque solvit pristinum licentia.
Hic conspiratis factionum partibus
arcem tyrannus occupat Pisistratus.
Cum tristem servitutem flerent Attici,
non quia crudelis ille, sed quoniam grave
omne insuetis onus, et coepissent queri,
Aesopus talem tum fabellam rettulit.
'Ranae, vagantes liberis paludibus,
clamore magno regem petiere ab Iove,
qui dissolutos mores vi compesceret.
Pater deorum risit atque illis dedit
parvum tigillum, missum quod subito vadi
motu sonoque terruit pavidum genus.
Hoc mersum limo cum iaceret diutius,
forte una tacite profert e stagno caput,
et explorato rege cunctas evocat.
Illae timore posito certatim adnatant,
lignumque supra turba petulans insilit.
Quod cum inquinassent omni contumelia,
alium rogantes regem misere ad Iovem,
inutilis quoniam esset qui fuerat datus.
Tum misit illis hydrum, qui dente aspero
corripere coepit singulas. Frustra necem
fugitant inertes; vocem praecludit metus.
Furtim igitur dant Mercurio mandata ad Iovem,
adflictis ut succurrat. Tunc contra Tonans
"Quia noluistis vestrum ferre" inquit "bonum,
malum perferte". Vos quoque, o cives,' ait
'hoc sustinete, maius ne veniat, malum'.
The Frogs Desiring a King (trans. C. Smart)
With equal laws when Athens throve,
The petulance of freedom drove
Their state to license, which overthrew
Those just restraints of old they knew.
Hence, as a factious discontent
Through every rank and order went,
Pisistratus the tyrant form'd
A party, and the fort he storm'd:
Which yoke, while all bemoaned in grief
(Not that he was a cruel chief,
But they unused to be controlled)
Then Esop thus his fable told:
The Frogs, a freeborn people made,
From out their marsh with clamor pray'd
That Jove a monarch would assign
With power their manners to refine.
The sovereign smiled, and on their bog
Bent his petitioners a log,
Which, as it dash'd upon the place,
At first alarm'd the tim'rous race.
But ere it long had lain to cool,
One slily peep'd out of the pool,
And finding it a king in jest,
He boldly summoned all the rest.
Now, void of fear, the tribe advance,
And on the timber leap'd and danced,
And having let their fury loose,
In gross affronts and rank abuse,
Of Jove they sought another king,
For useless was this wooden thing.
Then he a water-snake empower'd,
Who one by one their race devoured.
They try to make escape in vain,
Nor, dumb through fear, can they complain.
By stealth they Mercury depute,
That Jove would once more hear their suit,
And send their sinking state to save;
But he in wrath this answer gave:
"You scorn'd the good king that you had,
And therefore you shall bear the bad."
Ye likewise, 0 Athenian friends,
Convinced to what impatience tends,
Though slavery be no common curse,
Be still, for fear of worse and worse.
Latin text from Phaedrus at The
Latin Library (Ad Fontes), English translations from The
Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse by Christopher Smart
(London: 1913). Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb),
contains the Latin texts of Phaedrus, with a facing English translation, along
with a valuable appendix listing all the Aesop's fables attested in Greek and/or
in Latin. Invaluable.