Saturday, 8 March 2014

Septem Sapientium Historia: a sad story.



The Story of the Seven Sages is a cycle of short stories within a frame narrative, like Thousand and one Nights. No wonder, the Story of the Seven Sages was originally Persian, may be even Sanskrit , and translated into Arabic and Syrian. From one of these sources a translation was made into Greek at the end of the 11th century and hence into Latin. It became widely popular in the Middle Ages and numerous versions exist, both in Latin and in vernacular languages. This version is taken from the Latin Library, which is a digitalised copy of the edition by Alfons Hilka from 1911.  It is this version on which English wiki lemma is based, though without telling so and it summarises the plot thus:

The Sultan sends his son the young Prince to be educated away from the court in the seven liberal arts by Seven Wise Masters. On his return to court his stepmother the empress seeks to seduce him. To avert danger he is bound over to a week's silence by Sindibad, leader of the Seven Wise Masters. During this time the empress accuses him to her husband, and seeks to bring about his death by seven stories which she relates to the emperor; but her narrative is each time confuted by the Seven Wise Masters led by Sindibad. Finally the prince's lips are unsealed, the truth exposed, and the wicked empress is executed.

It is a bit more complicated, but the stories can be read independently form the frame narrative.
In the following story a turtle-dove couple is having a row over grain with fatal consequences…


4. Secundi sapientis prima historia: Turtures

Duo turtures, masculus et femina, congregaverunt grana aestivo tempore et inpleverunt nidum. Dixitque vir uxori: Cave ne tangas haec grana, quoniam in hieme, quando non poterimus invenire foris, comedemus illa. Dixitque femina: Libenter. Adveniente autem profunda aestate grana adeo sicca facta sunt in nido quod devenerunt ad mediam partem. Tunc dixit masculus feminae: Nonne ego dixi tibi: ne tangas victum in aestate? Et mox cepit eam percutere alis et rostro et sicut interfecit eam. Hiemali autem tempore humida facta sunt grana et inflata inpleverunt nidum sicut prius. Et cogitavit masculus quod gratis et sine causa interfecerat feminam suam et paenituit et doluit, quoniam remanserat solus.

turtur –is (m.) turtle-dove
congrego: to gather
granum: grain
aestivus)belonging to summer, summer-
nidus: nest
tango tetigi tactum: to touch
hiems hiemis (f.); winter
invenire foris: go outside
comedo comedi: to eat
profundus: deep
siccus: dry
ad mediam partem (nidi)
victus, us (m.): food
mox: soon
percutio percussi percussum: to beat
ala: wing
rostrum: beak
interficio interfeci interfectum: to kill (How unlike turtle-doves!)
inpleo inplevi inpletum: to fill
gratis: for nothing
paeniteo paenitui: to repent
remaneo remansi: to remain


(The German wiki differs and is more informative.)

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