Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hoopoe Honored by the Eagle

The Hoopoe Honored by the Eagle. Practically all the birds were invited to the eagle's wedding, but they were offended that the hoopoe was given special preference on account of its remarkable crest and all its different colored feathers, even though the hoopoe spent all its time rolling around in manure and filth. The fable points out the foolishness of those who base their judgement of others more on glamorous clothes and good looks rather than paying attention to character and habits.

Upupa ab Aquila Honorata. Invitatae fere omnes aves ad Aquilae nuptias, indigne ferebant Upupam ceteris praeferri, quia corona insignis esset et versicoloribus pennis ornata, cum semper inter stercora et sordes solita esse volutari. Morale. Haec fabula stultitiam eorum arguit qui in hominibus honorandis potius vestium nitorem praestantiamque formae quam virtutes moresque soleant attendere.

Notes. This is Abstemius 45. As usual with Abstemius, it is not found in Perry's inventory.This little fable encapsulates the paradoxical identity of the hoopoe in European folklore: on the one hand, the hoopoe is a bird with a striking and beautiful appearance but, on the other hand, it is also notorious for nesting in filth - so much so that one of its names in German is Stinkvogel, the Stink-bird! I've never seen a hoopoe in the wild, so I have no idea if they really stink or not. Perhaps it is just malicious gossip by the birds who are jealous of the hoopoe's beautiful crest of feathers.

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