Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus
Book V - II. Duo Milites et Latro (Perry
Duo cum incidissent in latronem milites,
unus profugit, alter autem restitit
et uindicauit sese forti dextera.
Latrone excusso timidus accurrit comes
stringitque gladium, dein reiecta paenula
"Cedo" inquit "illum; iam curabo sentiat
quos attemptarit." Tunc qui depugnauerat:
"Vellem istis uerbis saltem adiuuisses modo;
constantior fuissem uera existimans.
Nunc conde ferrum et linguam pariter futilem.
Vt possis alios ignorantes fallere,
ego, qui sum expertus quantis fugias uiribus,
scio quam uirtuti non sit credendum tuae."
Illi adsignari debet haec narratio,
qui re secunda fortis est, dubia fugax.
The Thief and the Travellers (trans. C. Smart)
Two men equipp'd were on their way;
One fearful; one without dismay,
An able fencer. As they went,
A robber came with black intent;
Demanding, upon pain of death,
Their gold and silver in a breath.
At which the man of spirit drew,
And instantly disarm'd and slew
The Thief, his honor to maintain.
Soon as the rogue was fairly slain,
The tim'rous chap began to puff,
And drew his sword, and stripp'd in buff-
"Leave me alone with him! stand back!
I'll teach him whom he should attack."
Then he who fought, " I wish, my friend,
But now you'd had such words to lend;
I might have been confirm'd the more,
Supposing truth to all you swore;
Then put your weapon in the sheath,
And keep your tongue within your teeth,
Though you may play an actor's part
On them who do not know your heart,
I, who have seen this very day
How lustily you ran away,
Experience when one comes to blows
How far your resolution goes."
This narrative to those I tell
Who stand their ground when all is well;
But in the hour of pressing need
Abash'd, most shamefully recede.
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.