Fatua cruraque mox separabuntur.

By MJR, in 'Latin to English Translation', Dec 18, 2018.

  1. MJR New Member

    Thanks so much for your help. This is a moral from a fable, The Lady of the Legs, by the American humorist James Thurber. It appears in is book Further Fables for Our Time (1956). It's about a boastful frog who encounters a chef...and the chef invites her to meet a "bon vivant," promising that she'll be "served like a queen." The frog is deluded and doesn't sense that "being served" means being served up on a disk for a gourmet meal.
    My high school Latin is hardly sufficient to do more than come up with something like illusive/foolish and legs soon parted.
    This is for a new book of Thurber's collected fables, so any help would be gladly welcomed. MJR
  2. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    A fool(ish woman) and her legs will soon be separated.

    Kind of weird, but it seems to make sense given the story.
  3. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Given the context, I would say a fool(ish frog) rather than woman, though I suppose you could call the frog a lady as in the title "The Lady of the Legs" and so say a fool(ish lady). "Woman" sounds less appropriate for some reason.
    MJR likes this.
  4. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I'm just happy to hear that there's a new edition of Thurber. I'd imagined he was forgotten nowadays.
  5. MJR New Member

    Yes, the "weird" part is likely the intended humor. The punning, of course, intentional. So, yes, the frog who is boastful is a she. Here's a passage:

    “I have the largest lily pad, the deepest dive, the prettiest eyes, and the finest voice in the world,” she croaked.

    “You also have the most succulent legs on earth or water,” said a human voice one day. It was the voice of a renowned Parisian restaurateur, who was passing by when he heard all the bragging.

    “I do not know what succulent means,” said the frog.

    “You must have the smallest vocabulary in the world,” said the restaurateur, and the foolish frog, who took every superlative for praise, was pleased, and flushed a deeper green than ever.
    And on from there. So, I think this makes much more sense than I could piece together. I'd found "parted" for the verb...and "parting" a female legs was definitely NOT what Thurber intended.
    Thanks for this help!
    I'm delighted to say that 2019 is to be The Year of Thurber. It's the 125th anniversary of his birth. And two new books (yes, in the spirit of disclosure, I'm the editor of both) are forthcoming. Complete Fables (HarperPerennial) and a monograph devoted to his drawings and cartoons: A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber (Ohio State University Press). So, you're in luck. The goal is acquaint and reacquaint readers with the preeminent humorist of the twentieth century!

    Also, is there anything I'm missing in terms of an allusion to a famous quote? Some reference that Thurber is making that would add to the joke? In other words, I'm wondering why he chose to put this in Latin rather than, say, French, since the fable is set in Paris and he introduces a "bon vivant" into the story. A gourmet he calls a "connoisseur of the grande haut cuisine."

    Makes me feel there must be a Latin quote that's a model for his version. A ghost of a familiar saying from...?

    Thanks again, all.
  6. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I'm ashamed to say I was only vaguely aware of Further Fables for Our Time; they're not in the two-volume Penguin anthology that unconvincingly claims to be complete. Is late Thurber unjustly neglected? I love Lanterns and Lances and Credos and Curios, but I've never met anyone else who's read them, and although I can see why the pieces might not have the popular appeal of the better-known ones, they're idiosyncratic classics.
  7. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I would assume he was simply alluding to the English saying 'A fool and his money are soon parted'; as for why it's in Latin, I can't offer any better reason than that he felt like writing it that way.
  8. MJR New Member

    It was hiding in plain sight! Yes, I think that's likely the maxim behind it all. That would have be a popular saying at the time, and many of his fables take something common and tweak it with a humorist twist. So, I suspect I need to use "parted" rather than "separated" to suggest the familiar saying. Very helpful. Much appreciated.

    Until NOW, that would have been "complete." I've pulled manuscripts from his archived papers. So there are 7 unpublished fables. Plus some drawings that will be included for the first time. Plus 3 fables that did appear in the New Yorker but were clearly different: Much longer. Not the same short, punchy, pastoral episode. But he called them "fables," and they're clearly that...or, perhaps, fairy tales or parables. In any case, there are 288 pages in a new paperback that will be out in the summer of 2019.

    Thurber died in 1961. And because he did write humor (nothing as "serious" as novels or poetry or great nonfiction, right?) and short works in prose, no work, with the possible exception of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which at one point, was the story earning the most money/word of any in America (wish I could find the source for that fact again!), remains in the canon. And generations under, say, 45, have never heard of him. So, the hope is to reestablish him in the annals of literature...and on the shelves of bookstores. In the hearts of readers. Thanks for your thoughts, Michael

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