Pliny's Letters-9.33 (Letter 39) The African Dolphin

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  • Created by: Lydia22
  • Created on: 26-12-15 19:42
Incidi in materiam veram sed simillimam fictae, dignamque isto laetissimo altissimo planeque poetico ingenio;
i have come across a story which is true but very much like fiction, and worthy of that most hapy and highest and clearly poetic genius;
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incidi autem, dum super cenam varia miracula hinc inde referuntur.
but i have come across it while, over dinner various marvellous stories were being related here and there.
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Magna auctori fides: tametsi quid poetae *** fide? Is tamen auctor, cui bene vel historiam scripturus credidisses.
the author has great trustworthiness: although what is trustworthiness to a poet? this is an author whom you would believe even if he were about to write a history.
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Est in Africa Hipponensis colonia mari proxima.
there is in Africa a colony called Hippo very near the sea.
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Adiacet navigabile stagnum; ex hoc in modum fluminis aestuarium emergit, quod vice alterna, prout aestus aut repressit aut impulit, nunc infertur mari, nunc redditur stagno.
adjacent is a navigable lagoon; out of this emerges an estuary in the manner of a river, which in turn flows into the lake, or into the ocean, according to the ebb and flow of the tide.
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Omnis hic aetas piscandi navigandi atque etiam natandi studio tenetur, maxime pueri, quos otium lususque sollicitat.
people of all ages amuse themselves here with fishing, sailing and even swimming, especially the boys, whom leisure and playfulness stimulate.
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His gloria et virtus altissime provehi: victor ille, qui longissime ut litus ita simul natantes reliquit.
With these it is a fine and manly achievement to be able to swim the farthest; and he that leaves the shore and his companions at the greatest distance gains the victory.
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Hoc certamine puer quidam audentior ceteris in ulteriora tendebat. Delphinus occurrit, et nunc praecedere puerum nunc sequi nunc circumire, postremo subire deponere iterum subire, trepidantemque perferre primum in altum, mox flectit ad litus,
in this competition,a certain boy, bolder than the others, would strive further than the others. a dolphin came up to him and now went in front of him, now went after him, now went around him, finally it went under him, put him down, went under him
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redditque terrae et aequalibus.
again, and carried the trembling boy first into the deep, soon turned to the shore, and restores him back to the earth and his friends.
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Serpit per coloniam fama; concurrere omnes, ipsum puerum tamquam miraculum aspicere, interrogare audire narrare.
the fame of this remarkable boy spread through the colony; and crowds of people flocked round the boy (whom they viewed as a kind of prodigy) to ask him questions and hear him relate the story.
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Postero die obsident litus, prospectant mare et si quid est mari simile.
The next day the shore was thronged with spectators, all attentively watching the ocean, and (what indeed is almost itself an ocean) the lake.
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Natant pueri, inter hos ille, sed cautius. Delphinus rursus ad tempus, rursus ad puerum.
the boys swim, among them that boy, but more cautiously. the dolphin, again on time,swam towards the boy.
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. Fugit ille *** ceteris. Delphinus, quasi invitet et revocet, exsilit mergitur, variosque orbes implicat expeditque.
he flees with the others. the dolphin, The dolphin, as though to invite and call them back, leaped and dived up and down, in a series of circular movements.
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Hoc altero die, hoc tertio, hoc pluribus, donec homines innutritos mari subiret timendi pudor.
This he practised the next day, the day after, and for several days together, till the people (accustomed from their infancy to the sea) began to be ashamed of their timidity.
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. Accedunt et alludunt et appellant, tangunt etiam pertrectantque praebentem.
They ventured, therefore, to advance nearer, playing with him and calling him to them, while he, in return, suffered himself to be touched and stroked.
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Crescit audacia experimento.
Use rendered them courageous.
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Maxime puer, qui primus expertus est, adnatat nanti, insilit tergo, fertur referturque, agnosci se amari putat, amat ipse; neuter timet, neuter timetur; huius fiducia, mansuetudo illius augetur.
The boy, in particular, who first made the experiment, swam by the side of him, and leaping upon his back, was carried backwards and forwards in that manner, and thought the dolphin knew him and was fond of him, while he too had grown fond of the
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Nec non alii pueri dextra laevaque simul eunt hortantes monentesque.
There seemed now, indeed, to be no fear on either side, the confidence of the one and tameness of the other mutually increasing; the rest of the boys, in the meanwhile surrounding and encouraging their companion.
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Ibat una - id quoque mirum - delphinus alius, tantum spectator et comes.
It is very remarkable that this dolphin was followed by a second, which seemed only as a spectator and attendant on the former;
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Nihil enim simile aut faciebat aut patiebatur, sed alterum illum ducebat reducebat, ut puerum ceteri pueri.
for he did not at all submit to the same familiarities as the first, but only escorted him backwards and forwards, as the boys did their comrade.
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Incredibile, tam verum tamen quam priora, delphinum gestatorem collusoremque puerorum in terram quoque extrahi solitum, harenisque siccatum, ubi incaluisset in mare revolvi.
But what is further surprising, and no less true than what I have already related, is that this dolphin, who thus played with the boys and carried them upon his back, would come upon the shore, dry himself in the sand, and, as soon as he grew warm,
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Constat Octavium Avitum, legatum proconsulis, in litus educto religione prava superfudisse unguentum,
It is a fact that Octavius Avitus, deputy governor of the province, actuated by an absurd piece of superstition, poured some ointment over him as he lay on the shore:
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cuius illum novitatem odoremque in altum refugisse, nec nisi post multos dies visum languidum et maestum, mox redditis viribus priorem lasciviam et solita ministeria repetisse.
the novelty and smell of which made him retire into the ocean, and it was not till several days after that he was seen again, when he appeared dull and languid; however, he recovered his strength and continued his usual playful tricks.
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Confluebant omnes ad spectaculum magistratus, quorum adventu et mora modica res publica novis sumptibus atterebatur.
. All the magistrates round flocked hither to view this sight, whose arrival and prolonged stay, was an additional expense, which the slender finances of this little community would ill afford;
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Postremo locus ipse quietem suam secretumque perdebat: placuit occulte interfici, ad quod coibatur.
besides, the quiet and retirement of the place was utterly destroyed. It was thought proper, therefore, to remove the occasion of this concourse, by privately killing the poor dolphin.
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Haec tu qua miseratione, qua copia deflebis ornabis attolles! Quamquam non est opus affingas aliquid aut astruas; sufficit ne ea quae sunt vera minuantur. Vale.
And now, with what a flow of tenderness will you describe this affecting catastrophe! 2 and how will your genius adorn and heighten this moving story! Though, indeed the subject does not require any fictitious embellishments; it will be sufficient
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Card 2

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incidi autem, dum super cenam varia miracula hinc inde referuntur.

Back

but i have come across it while, over dinner various marvellous stories were being related here and there.

Card 3

Front

Magna auctori fides: tametsi quid poetae *** fide? Is tamen auctor, cui bene vel historiam scripturus credidisses.

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Est in Africa Hipponensis colonia mari proxima.

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Adiacet navigabile stagnum; ex hoc in modum fluminis aestuarium emergit, quod vice alterna, prout aestus aut repressit aut impulit, nunc infertur mari, nunc redditur stagno.

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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