Monstrorum princeps elephans proboscide saevus
horret mole nigra, dente micat niveo.
sed vario fugienda malo cum belua gliscat,
est tamen excepti mors pretiosa feri.
nam quae conspicimus montani roboris ossa
humanis veniunt usibus apta satis.
consulibus sceptrum, mensis decus, arma tablistis,
discolor et tabulae cauculus inde datur.
haec est humanae semper mutatio sortis:
fit moriens ludus, qui fuit ante pavor.
(Anth. Lat. 187 S-B)
Prince of great animals, the elephant, savage with its trunk, terrifies with its black bulk and flashes with its white tusks. But though the beast which so bristles with danger of various kinds should be fled from, the death of a trapped animal is nevertheless worth a great deal. For those bones of mountainous strength on which we gaze come in useful for man’s purposes. From them comes the sceptre for consuls, ornament for tables, their paraphernalia for tabula players, and the differently coloured pieces for tabula. This is the eternal changeability of the human condition: in death he becomes a plaything, who was before a terror. (tr. Nigel M. Kay)
Indoctus teneram suscepit cauculo pubem,
quam cogat primas discere litterulas.
sed cum discipulos nullo terrore coercet
et ferulis culpas tollere cessat iners,
proiectis pueri tabulis Floralia ludunt.
iam nomen ludi rite magister habet.
(Anth. Lat. 85 S-B)
An untrained teacher took on boys of tender age to get them to learn their elementary letters. But when he does not discipline his pupils with any terror and ineffectually ceases from eliminating their errors by the cane, the boys throw around their writing tablets and celebrate the Floralia. Now he properly has the name of ‘games teacher’. (tr. Nigel M. Kay)
Stuppea suppositis tenduntur vincula lignis,
quae fido ascendit docta iuventa gradu.
quam superaërius protendit crura viator
vixque avibus facili tramite currit homo!
brachia distendens gressum per inane gubernat,
ne lapsa gracili planta rudente cadat.
Daedalus adstruitur terras mutasse volatu
et medium pinnis persecuisse diem.
praesenti exemplo firmatur fabula mendax:
ecce hominis cursus funis et aura ferunt.
(Anth. Lat. 101 S-B)
The ropes of tow, which the skilled youth ascends with sure step, are made taut by the poles supporting them. How incredibly high the walker is as he stretches forth his legs and, though human, rushes along a path scarcely easy for birds! Stretching his arms to the side he controls his route through the void, lest he should miss his footing and fall from the slender rope. It is maintained that Daedalus changed country by flight, and that he clove the noonday sky on wings. That story from fiction is proved true by the present example: look, a rope and the air bear a man on his journey! (tr. Nigel M. Kay)