Saturday, August 14, 2021

Equus et Asellus

Well, I'm back! The Digital Pedagogy Lab was a great experience, although I ended up not having as much time for writing as I expected... and that's because the participants were doing so much writing, which meant I had lots of wonderful stories to read and respond to. We're going to have a book coming out at the end of this month (I'm working on that next week), and I'll share it here since there are some classical items in there thanks to two classicists who were in the workshop! The book we used is here:, and it is a free OER book for anyone to adapt and use. I'll eventually turn it into a Pressbook but for now it exists as a Google Doc which is also available as a website and a PDF. Based on my experience with students last year, and then with the workshop this month, I really think 100-word writing has a lot to offer!

You can find more Latin stories at,
and more Tiny Tales at

One thing that the experience inspired me to do is to keep trying new Latin experiments in addition to carrying on with the Gesta Romanorum project, so for today's story, I have taken a fable-poem by the Renaissance author Faernus (Gabriele Faerno), and turned it into a 100-word story in Latin. I even found a gorgeous illustrated edition of Faernus at the Library of Congress!

Equus et Asellus

Equus atque Asellus servi erant uni hero, et uterque ibat, sarcina propria onustus. 
Sed Asellus adeo iam gravabatur sarcina sua ut cogeretur levamen ab Equo exposcere. "O sodalis, leva me hoc onere! Supplex te rogo: adiuva me!"
"Nego!" Equus superbus respondit. "Sarcinam meam porto ego; porta tu tuam."
Prae labore Asellus miser concidit, supremum halitum agens.
Tum herus Asini sarcinam et corium insuper ad priorem sarcinam Equo addidit. 
"Eheu! Miser sum et perditus," Equus clamabat. "Levare sodalem meum nolui, et nunc sarcinas duas solus gesto, atque Asini corium tertiae instar sarcinae." 
Fabula docet: 
Si potentior tenuiorem iuverit, utrique melius fuerit.

Here is the poem as Faernus wrote it; the poem itself is just 83 words:

16. Equus et Asinus
Equus atque Asellus servientes uni hero
Uterque propria onustus ibat sarcina.
Sed Asellus adeo iam gravabatur sua,
Ut cogeretur partis alicuius sibi
Supplex levamen ab sodali exposcere.
Quo denegante prae labore concidens
Miser supremum Asellus egit halitum.
Tum vero, ut Asini sarcina et corium insuper
Equo ad priorem sarcinam sunt addita,
Miserum ille se vocabat atque perditum.
Nam qui levare contubernalem meum
Parte oneris, inquit, nolui, nunc omnia
Gesto, atque corium tertiae instar sarcinae.
Si tenuiorem iuverit potentior,
Utrique melius fuerit et prolixius.

I remember first reading this fable in a collection of children's stories by Tolstoy (more about Tolstoy's Fables for Children), and it made a big impression on me. Here's Tolstoy in Russian and a 100-word English version:

The Donkey and the Driver
A man had a Donkey and a Horse. 
They were walking on the road; the Donkey told the Horse, "I can't carry this heavy load. Take at least a part of my load."
The Horse paid no attention to him. 
The Donkey fell down from overstraining himself and died. 
When the master transferred the Donkey's load on the Horse, and added the Donkey's hide, the Horse began complaining. "Oh, woe to me, poor one, woe to me, unfortunate Horse! I did not want to help him even a little, and now I have to carry everything, and his hide too."

У одного человека были осел и лошадь. 
Шли они по дороге; осел сказал лошади: «Мне тяжело, не дотащу я всего, возьми с меня хоть немного». 
Лошадь не послушалась. 
Осел упал от натуги и умер. 
Хозяин как наложил все с осла на лошадь, да еще и шкуру ослиную, лошадь и взвыла: «Ох, горе мне, бедной, горюшко мне, несчастной! Не хотела я немножко ему подсобить, теперь вот все тащу да еще и шкуру».

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