Friday, July 29, 2011

SPECIAL EDITION: Carolus Lebeau

As those of you who follow my Google Books blog already know, yesterday was quite an amazing day for me: a bookseller in Philadelphia by chance alerted me to a neo-Latin author of Aesop's fables whom I had never heard of before: Carolus Lebeau, or Charles Le Beau. Even better, a reader of that blog helped me in tracking down all four volumes of Lebeau's Latin works, which contain not just Aesop's fables but all kinds of tantalizing delights drawn from both Biblical and secular history. The timing of this is not great, since I have to start back at my real job on Monday... so I am going to suspect my various blogs for the weekend and just concentrate on inventorying the materials in these four books and publishing a list of the titles of the items for anyone else who is interested in exploring this unexpected treasure trove. I'll be keeping all my Leabeau materials over at my Google Books blog: Google Books - Lebeau.

To whet your appetites, I have transcribed the first of his Aesopic fables in verse here (from Volume 1, Carmina). I know it can be intimidating to read Latin poetry, so I have also presented a segmented version of the fable below. It's a variation on the famous fable of the woodsman and Mercury, known to Latin readers from the version in Phaedrus but also part of the Greek Aesopic tradition as well. Lebeau shows himself to have a wonderful sense of humor in adapting the story. The poem is full of all kinds of great little details and a fantastic surprise ending that conveys the same moral as the traditional version but with a visceral punch! The Latin is really not too hard at all - there was one historical infinitive construction which I changed to the imperfect in the segmented version, but other than that I have just arranged the words in a more straightforward order. Enjoy!

Lignator et Mercurius

Perdiderat vitae spem subsidiumque, securim,
Lignator, quam perque vias perque invia quaerens,
Ibat luctisono turbans nemora alta boatu.
Quid faciat? Iam torpet iners, iam pendet inermis
Dextera; iam nulla est heu! quae fuit una, securis.
Ergo per invisos saltus ieiunus et expes
Reptabat, rugas fletu humectante seniles.
"O mea," clamabat; "redde hanc, O summe Deorum!
Redde, vel ipse tua caput hoc abscinde bipenni."
Audit Omnipotens. Caelo Cillenius ales
Devolat. "Illa tibi non occidit, O bone! Vultus
Terge tuos; poterisne memor gaudere reperta?
Fallimus, aut media splendentem vidimus herba."
Et simul haec, simul una, Deo signante, reluxit
Aurea. "Fortunae non sunt haec munera nostrae,"
Alter ait. Dein argento nitet altera. Tristis
Abnegat. E noto monstratur tertia ligno.
Exilit hic; "Nostra est, animae pars maxima," clamat,
"Nostra veni." "Reliquas etiam," Deus inquit, "habeto,
Praemia sincerae mentis." Capit ille renidens.
Fama simul totis volat undique garrula silvis.
Omnis lignator certatim perdere ferrum
Sponte fluens, caelumque avidis incendere votis.
Non habet attonitas quo vertat Iupiter aures.
Mercurium sibi quisque vocat. Mora nulla vocanti
Missus adest, monstratque auro radiante securim.
Protinus, "Haec nostra est," clamat ridente metallo
Callida gens. At non incallidus alter, aventes
Frustratur dextras: mentitam ut quisque bipennem
Captat hians, caput impacto gravis increpat auro.

Lignator securim perdiderat,
vitae spem subsidiumque;
ibat, securim quaerens
perque vias perque invia,
nemora alta turbans
luctisono boatu.
Quid faciat?
Iam dextera torpet iners,
iam pendet inermis;
heu!
iam nulla est securis
quae una fuit.
Ergo reptabat
per invisos saltus,
ieiunus et expes,
fletu rugas seniles humectante.
"O mea securis!" clamabat;
"Redde hanc, O summe Deorum!
Redde,
vel ipse caput hoc abscinde
tua bipenni."
Audit Omnipotens.
Cillenius ales caelo devolat.
"O bone vir,
illa bipennis tibi non occidit.
Vultus tuos terge;
reperta securi,
poterisne gaudere memor?
Fallimus,
aut splendentem vidimus

media herba."
Et simul haec Deo signante,
simul una reluxit securis - aurea!
Alter ait,
"Haec munera nostrae Fortunae non sunt."
Dein altera argento nitet.
Tristis abnegat.
Tertia monstratur, e ligno noto.
Hic exilit; clamat:
"Nostra est, animae pars maxima!
Nostra veni!"
Deus inquit:
"Reliquas etiam habeto
praemia sincerae mentis."
Ille capit, renidens.
Simul fama garrula volat
totis silvis undique.
Omnis lignator,
certatim fluens,
ferrum sponte perdebat
caelumque avidis votis incendebat.
Iupiter non habet
quo vertat aures attonitas.
Quisque Mercurium sibi vocat.
Missus vocanti adest, mora nulla,
monstratque securim, auro radiante.
Protinus callida gens clamat,
ridente metallo:
"Haec nostra est!"
At alter, non incallidus,
frustratur dextras aventes:
ut quisque, hians,
mentitam bipennem captat,
gravis caput increpat
impacto auro.

Lignator et Mercurius

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