Saturday, June 26, 2021

Gesta 36: Perdix et Venator

You can find more Latin stories at Centum.LauraGibbs.net,
and more Tiny Tales at 100Words.LauraGibbs.net.


Centum Verba: Perdix et Venator

Perdix habens pullos, sciens venatorem appropinquare nido, ut venatorem retrahat a pullis, venit prope venatorem et fingit se posse non volare. Venator insequitur paulatim; illa volat, et ipse post illam vadit, et sic semper facit donec elongatus est a pullis; et sic decipitur venator, quod nec perdicem nec pullos habet.
Venator est bonus Christianus, qui victum et vestitum cum labore acquirit. Sed mundus hominem non libenter sustinet; homo mundi vanitatem sequitur, et mundus illum ab amore dei et bonis operibus elongat. Deinde mors illum subtrahit a saeculo, et manet ille miser deceptus quia non habet mundum nec fructum bonorum operum.



Notes: There is an English version in Swan: The Course of Human Life. The story is about a philosopher and a king, with the philosopher teaching the king about the meaning of life. The philosopher makes a long (LONG) speech, and it contains two exempla: one is the story of the mother bird and her chicks with its moralization (that's what I included here), and the second exemplum is the story of Alexander's horse Bucephalus. Since the story about the mother bird was so short, I was able to include the allegorical moralization, which might surprise you: instead of the mother bird being a positive exemplum, the focus is on the hunter, with the mother bird standing for the material world!

Update: Thanks to a reader for writing to ask about sources for this partridge legend; I completely forgot to include that information here. This story about the partridge forms part of the bestiary tradition (there is a lot of overlap between bestiary lore and the animals in the Gesta), and that bestiary tradition emerges from Roman natural history writers like Pliny. More information and references here at the wonderful bestiary.ca site: Perdix. You can read the Latin text of Pliny here. Even better: this is an actual animal behavior; more about that at Wikipedia: Distraction Display.

Here is the full version from the Gesta:

Perdix habens pullos suos, sciens venatorem appropinquare nido, ut venatorem retrahat a pullis, venit prope venatorem et fingit se posse non volare; quod venator credens esse verum, insequitur paulatim. lila volat, et ipse post illam vadit sperans illam capere, et sic semper facit, donec elongatus est a pullis; et sic decipitur venator, quod nec perdicem nec pullos habet.

Sic est de mundo. Venator, qui nido pullorum appropinquat, est bonus Christianus, qui victum et vestitum et alia cum labore acquirit. Sed mundus hominem non libenter sustinet, tali applaudit et simulat, ac si sequi velit, et semper cum honore manere; quod videns homo saepe ab operibus bonis recedit et mundi vanitatem sequitur, et tunc mundus illum ab amore dei et bonis operibus elongat. Deinde mors illum subtrahit a saeculo, et manet ille miser deceptus, quia non habet mundum, quem sequebatur, nec fructum bonorum operum, a quibus elongatur. Ecce quomodo mundus suis servitoribus reddit mercedem. Et hoc est, quod dicit Jacobus: Totus mundus in maligno positus est. Omne, quod est in mundo, aut est superbia vite et reliqua.

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