Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Dog and the Fox Who Played Dead

The Dog and the Fox Who Played Dead. There was a fox who played dead in order to catch the birds who would come near her body. So she rolled in the mud and stretched out in a field, waiting for the crows, ravens and other scavenger birds which she could devour. But a dog came by, grabbed the fox firmly with his teeth and began to mangle her. When the fox realized what was happening, she said, "This is just what I deserve: while I was trying to catch the birds using my tricks, someone else has caught me."

Canis et Vulpes Mortem Simulans. Vulpes, simulans se defunctam ut aves ad se tanquam ad cadaver accedentes interciperet, luto oblita, in quodam agro resupina iacebat, exspectans cornices, corvos et huiusmodi rapaces volucres, quas devoraret, cum superveniens canis eam mordicus captam coepit dentibus lacerare. Quod illa animadvertens, "Digna," inquit, "patior: nam dum fraudibus aves capere studeo, ab alio capta sum."

Notes. This is Abstemius 146. As usual with Abstemius, it is not found in Perry's inventory. The motif of the fox playing dead is famous from the bestiary tradition; you can see some wonderful illustrations at The Medieval Bestiary website. What turns this into an Aesop's fable is that it is the story of a mistake: the fox's strategy backfires, fatally!

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