Qui se laudari gaudet verbis subdolis,
fere dat poenas turpi paenitentia.
cum de fenestra corvus raptum caseum
comesse vellet, celsa residens arbore,
vulpes invidit, deinde sic coepit loqui:
‘o qui tuarum, corve, pinnarum est nitor!
quantum decoris corpore et vultu geris!
si vocem haberes, nulla prior ales foret.’
at ille stultus, dum vocem vult ostendere,
lato ore emisit caseum, quem celeriter
dolosa vulpes avidis rapuit dentibus.
tum demum ingemuit corvi deceptus stupor.
[hac re probatur, quantum ingenium polleat,
virtute semper praevalet sapientia.]
(Phaedrus, Fab. 1.13)
He who takes delight in treacherous flattery usually pays the penalty by repentance and disgrace. When a crow, perched on a high tree, was about to eat a piece of cheese which he had carried off from a window, a fox who coveted the prize spoke up as follows: “Oh, Mr. Crow, what a lustre your plumes have, how graceful your face and your figure! If only you had a voice no bird would rate higher.” Anxious to show he did have a voice, the foolish crow opened his mouth to sing and let fall the cheese, which the crafty fox immediately snapped up with eager jaws. Too late the crow, betrayed by his own folly, moaned his loss. [This affair shows how much ingenuity can accomplish; cleverness is always more than a match for hardihood.] (tr. Ben Edwin Perry)