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Cicada vocalior

Original post date: Sunday, June 17, 2007

In English: More talkative than a cricket.

I thought this would make a good follow-up to yesterday's proverbial comparison, talpa caecior, "more blind than a mole." Like yesterday's saying, today's saying about the cricket is nicely illustrated by an Aesop's fable.

In fact, this is one of my favorite Aesop's fables - it is the story of the owl and the cricket, as told by Phaedrus:
Humanitati qui se non accommodat
plerumque poenas oppetit superbiae.
Cicada acerbum noctuae convicium
faciebat, solitae victum in tenebris quaerere
cavoque ramo capere somnum interdiu.
Rogata est ut taceret. Multo validius
clamare occepit. Rursus admota prece
accensa magis est. Noctua, ut vidit sibi
nullum esse auxilium et verba contemni sua,
hac est adgressa garrulam fallacia:
"Dormire quia me non sinunt cantus tui,
sonare citharam quos putes Apollinis,
potare est animus nectar, quod Pallas mihi
nuper donavit; si non fastidis, veni;
una bibamus." Illa, quae arebat siti,
simul gaudebat vocem laudari suam,
cupide advolavit. Noctua, obsepto cavo,
trepidantem consectata est et leto dedit.
Sic, viva quod negarat, tribuit mortua.

Someone who cannot deal with people usually pays the price for his conceited behaviour. A cricket was making an awful disturbance for the owl who was accustomed to seek her food in the dark and meanwhile to catch some shut-eye in a hollowed-out tree branch. The cricket was asked to keep quiet. She began to shout even more loudly. Again the request was made, and the cricket got even more excited. When the owl saw that this was doing her no good and that her words were being ignored, she approached the chattering cricket with this trick: "Given that your songs do not let me sleep - songs which you would think Apollo's own lyre were producing - I've got a mind to drink the nectar which Athena recently gave me as a gift. If you don't object, please come; let's have a drink together." The cricket, who was parched with thirst, was at the same time pleased to have her voice praised; she greedily flew to the owl. The owl, having blocked up the hole, seized the trembling cricket and consigned her to death. What the cricket had refused to do while living, she conceded in death.
I like the way Phaedrus adds to this animal story the mythological touches of Apollo's lyre and Athena's friendship with the owl. Many Aesop's fables do not actually have anything distinctively Greek or Roman about them, but this one does - in addition to providing a great narrative illustration of today's proverb. Of course, if you've ever had a cricket trapped somewhere in your house, you know just how that owl felt!

So, here is today's proverb read out loud:

634. Cicada vocalior.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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