Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Oxen and the Butchers

The Oxen and the Butchers. Once upon a time the oxen wanted to do away with the butchers who practiced a trade that was so deadly to them. So they gathered their forces, already sharpening their horns for battle. But one of the oxen, an old fellow who had pulled the plow for many years, said to them, "These butchers in fact slaughter us with practiced hands without inflicting too much pain. If this were left up to men without any kill, a double death would await us. There won't be any end to the slaughtering of oxen if we put an end to the butchers."

Boves et Coqui. Boves quondam coquos quaerebant perdere, quippe qui sibi inimicam tractabant artem. Et ideo congregabantur, iam ad proelium acuentes cornua. Unus vero illorum aliquis, valde senex, araverat enim diu, "Isti quidem" ait "nos peritis mactant manibus ac magno trucidant sine cruciatu. Quod si in imperitos incidemus homines, duplex tunc impendebit mors. Non deerit enim qui bovem immolet, coquus etsi defuerit."

Notes. This is Babrius 21, which is Perry 290 in Perry's classification scheme. A very grim story about life and its compromises! Compare the medieval fable about the sheep who realize they perhaps should have attacked the butcher and driven him from their midst!

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