Aesop Summer Reading Group
Reading 1
Perry Index number 15

The Fox and the Grapes



Ἀλώπηξ καὶ βότρυς

It's easy to despise what you cannot have.


  Chambry Version 1   Babrius   Chambry Version 2      
  Greek Text   Greek Text   Greek Text Overview/Instructions    
  Questions   Questions   Questions General Translation Questions    
      Vocabulary Translation Notes    


Chambry 32 v1
Ἀλώπηξ καὶ βότρυς
C1-1 Ἀλώπηξ λιμώττουσα, ὡς ἐθεάσατο ἀπό τινος ἀναδενδράδος βότρυας κρεμαμένους, ἠβουλήθη αὐτῶν περιγενέσθαι καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο.
C1-2 Ἀπαλλαττομένη δὲ πρὸς ἑαυτὴν εἶπεν· Ὄμφακές εἰσιν.
C1-3 Οὕτω καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἔνιοι τῶν πραγμάτων ἐφικέσθαι μὴ δυνάμενοι δι' ἀσθένειαν τοὺς καιροὺς αἰτιῶνται.



Βότρυς μελαίνης ἀμπέλου παρωρείῃ
ἀπεκρέμαντο. τοὺς δὲ ποικίλη πλήρεις
ἰδοῦσα κερδὼ πολλάκις μὲν ὡρμήθη
πηδῶσα ποσσὶν πορφυρῆς θιγεῖν ὥρης·
ἦν γὰρ πέπειρος κεἰς τρυγητὸν ἀκμαίη.
κάμνουσα δ' ἄλλως, οὐ γὰρ ἴσχυε ψαύειν,
παρῆλθεν οὕτω βουκολοῦσα τὴν λύπην·
"ὄμφαξ ὁ βότρυς, οὐ πέπειρος, ὡς ᾤμην."

(Chambry 32 v2)
Ἀλώπηξ πρὸς ὄμφακας καὶ μῦς
C2-1 Ἀλώπηξ ἐν κρεβαττινᾷ βότρυας πεπείρους ἰδοῦσα ἤμελλε φαγεῖν μέν,ἐν ὕψει δὲ ὄντας οὐκ ηὐπόρει φαγεῖν.
C2-2 Μῦς δὲ ἰδὼν ταύτην ἐμειδίασεν εἰπών· Οὐδὲν τρώγεις.
C2-3 Ἡ δὲ ἀλώπηξ μὴ θέλουσα ἡττηθῆναι παρὰ τοῦ μυὸς ἔφη· Ὄμφακές εἰσιν.
C2-4 Ὅτι τοὺς πονηροὺς καὶ μὴ βουλομένους πείθεσθαι τῷ λόγῳ ὁ μῦθος ἐλέγχει.




Assignments, Instructions

Weekly Reading: The Chambry version on top is one of the easier versions to read. Babrius is a bit more difficult. Chambry's version 2 (on the bottom) is also very similar, with the addition of a mouse taunting the fox. Both Chambry versions give "the moral of the story." Look for some reading notes in the near future.



The pertinent vocabulary for more of the difficult forms is given in the table. Obvious forms are not given. The Attic ττ for σσ is used in the fables. The vocabulary is given as in LSJ. Some words may be difficult to find, e.g. κρεβαττινᾷ or παρωρείῃ. Some words may have their meaning stretched a little beyond the usual, e.g. ὥρης.


If the Greek text does not appear correctly, make sure you are using a polytonic Greek font. Set the encoding in your browser to utf-8


The following online tools can be found on the Perseus website:

Note: If you are using the Perseus site, you must set the configuration to properly display the greek. This may be done by clicking on the "Configure Display" and selecting the corresponding Greek format (choose Unicode or Unicode with precombined accents).

If you are looking for a good Greek book for Aesop. Purchase Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb). This edition contains the Greek texts of Babrius, with a facing English translation, and an extensive index covering the Greek and Latin fable tradition. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the Aesopic fable tradition.
The Greek text is taken from The Aesopica website Aesopica: Aesops Fables in English, Latin and Greek authored by Laura Gibbs..



Selected Vocabulary for more infreqent words
αἰτιάομαι  to charge, accuse; to blame, give credit to, allege
ἀκμαῖος , α, ον  in season, in full bloom, at its prime
ἀναδενδράς , άδος, ἡ,   vine that grows up trees
ἀπελαύνω to drive away, go away
ἀπαλλάσσω to set free deliver; pass. let off, depart from
ἀποκρεμάννυμι  to let hang down
βουκολέω  1) to tend cattle 2) to cheat, beguile
ἐλέγχω  to put to shame; to test, refute, expose
ἔνιοι , αι , α,  some
εὐπορέω  to prosper, thrive; to find a way, find a means
ἐφικνέομαι  to reach at, aim at
ἠδύνατο  verb 3rd sg aor ind double_aug > δύναμαι
ἡσσάομαι  to be defeated, to be inferior; to be worsted by
θιγγάνω  to touch
ἰδοῦσα  aorist participle of the irregulary verb εἶδον to see (>Root !ϝιδ ὁράω being used instead)
κάμνω  to work, to toil
κεἰς  crasis of καί and εἰς
κερδώ , όος,
contr. οῦς, ἡ 
the wily one, the thief; i.e. fox
κρεβασσινά  trellis?; cf κρεμαστός hung up, hanging
λιμώσσω  to be famished, hungry
λύπη  pain, grief, sad plight
μειδιάω = μειδάω  to smile, laugh aloud
μέλλω  impf. ἔμελλον and ἤμελλον
οἴομαι  to deem, seem, think, suppose
ὄμφαξ , ᾰκος, ἡ,ὁ  an unripe grape
παρήορος  hanging or hung beside
πέπειρος , ον  ripe, of fruit
παρώρεια a district on the side of a mountain
περιγίγνομαι  to be superior to, to gain advantage of
ὕψος , εος, τό  height
φαγεῖν  aorist of irregular verb ἐσθίω to eat
ψαύω  to touch, to reach
Viniculture (not all words used in fables above)
φύλλον , τό a leaf; foilage, plant
ῥάξ , ῥᾱγός, ἡ a grape, berry; nipple, tit (vulgar)
ἄμπελος ἡ vine
ἀμπελών ὁ vinyard
τρύγητος ὁ vintage, harvest; time of harvest
στᾰφῠλή , ἡ a bunch of ripe fresh grapes
βότρυς , υος, ὁ a bunch of grapes, cluster
ὄμφαξ , ᾰκος, ἡ,ὁ an unripe grape, olive (sg for pl)


Questions for the various selections

Chambry Version 1
Q1 How would you translate λιμώττουσα: hungry, starving, famished? How does the word compare with πεινάω?

Q2 How would you translate τοὺς καιροὺς?

Q3 Why the ττ in λιμώττουσα and Ἀπαλλαττομένη? See Smyth §78

Q4 What is the antonym of ὄμφαξ? (hint: check the vocabulary list)


Babrius Questions

Q4 Does τοὺς have an associated noun, or is it used as a pronoun?
a. Is it associated with πλήρεις making πλήρεις substantival Smyth §1021
b. Is it a weak demonstrative pronoun? cf Smyth §1100ff
c. Does it refer to a different noun?

Q5 Parse the following words: παρωρείῃ, ποικίλη, ἀκμαίη. (Is παρωρείῃ Ionic for παρωρείᾱͅ?)

Q6 The word ποικίλη means "many-coloured, spotted, mottled; subtle, wily." The word is an adjective modifying what word?
a. Does ποικίλη modify κερδὼ and is femine singular?
b. Is the final η in the word ποικίλη is lengthened for meter (or is Ionic) and stands for the neuter nominative/accusative plural ποικίλα and is used as an adverb?
c. Does ποικίλη agree with πλήρεις? (What case/gender is πλήρεις? cf. Smyth §292)

Q7 Why is the object of the verb θιγγάνω in the genitive......πορφυρῆς θιγεῖν ὥρης? cf. Smyth §1345

Q8 What is the correct translation for ὥρης? Two words show up in LSJ, one rare word meaning a "sacrifice" and the other the common "hour, time, season ".

Q9 Are there any lines in the Iliad or Oddyssey which are similar to the phrase "ὡρμήθη πηδῶσα ποσσὶν πορφυρῆς θιγεῖν ὥρης."? cf. IL 21.269
ὃ δ' ὑψόσε ποσσὶν ἐπήδα | θυμῷ ἀνιάζων·

Q10 What declension is κερδὼ? What word is used for that standard paradigm?
See Smyth 279

Q11 What is the lemma (ditionary form) of τρυγητὸν and what is its definition? What root is it from?

Q12 Should κερδὼ be translated 'fox' or 'wily'?

Q13 What other things in other liturature does μελαίνης refer to (irregular declination cf. μέλας)

Q14 What does ἀκμαίη refer to, τρυγητὸν or the implied Βότρυς which agrees with πέπειρος?

Q15 Is ἄλλως in the phrase "κάμνουσα δ' ἄλλως" a normal usage?

Q16 Can anyone break down the meter of Babrius' version by feet?


Chambry Version 2 Questions
Q17 What is the root word for κρεβαττινᾷ and what is its definition?

Q18 The μέν in the second line of Chambry version 2 is right before the comma. Does it correspond with the following δὲ or is it used in an intensive/adverbal manner? Or, is the punctutation incorrect?

Q19 Does ἐμειδίασεν usually mean smile, smirk or both?

Q20 Why did the mouse say "don't eat it"?

Q21 τρώγεις is condemned by later Greek writers as being uncouth. Is its usage inline with classical here (used with grapes) or should another word have been chosen by the author?

Q22 How would one translate πονηροὺς in the last line of Chambry version 2?

Q23 Translate the last line of Chambry version 2: Ὅτι τοὺς πονηροὺς καὶ μὴ βουλομένους
πείθεσθαι τῷ λόγῳ ὁ μῦθος ἐλέγχει
. What variations can you come up with?

Q24 Is this a normal usage for ἐλέγχει or a softened meaning of "show" or "point out"? Chambry Version 2 seems rather caustic, does not it?


General questions for all versions
Q25 What forms are poetic and don't appear often in prose?

Q26 What forms are Ionic, especially in Babrius?

Translation Notes:
N1 Note the lengthened augments in ἠβουλήθη,ἠδύνατο and ἤμελλε
N2 Note the Atticizing of λιμώττουσα, Ἀπαλλαττομένη and κρεβαττινᾷ(?)
N3 Note the dative plural of πούς; normally ποσί, Ep.and Lyr. ποσσί
More note to come as readers send them in!


A Latin version from Aesop's Fables: Phaedrus Book IV - III. De Vulpe et Vua (Perry 15)
Fame coacta uulpes alta in uinea
uuam adpetebat, summis saliens uiribus.
Quam tangere ut non potuit, discedens ait:
"Nondum matura es; nolo acerbam sumere."
Qui, facere quae non possunt, uerbis eleuant,
adscribere hoc debebunt exemplum sibi.

The Fox and the Grapes (trans. C. Smart)

An hungry Fox with fierce attack
Sprang on a Vine, but tumbled back,
Nor could attain the point in view,
So near the sky the bunches grew.
As he went off, "They're scurvy stuff,"
Says he, "and not half ripe enough--
And I 've more rev'rence for my tripes
Than to torment them with the gripes."
For those this tale is very pat
Who lessen what they can't come at.


The following images and English versions of the fables are taken from the Aesopica website, pending permission.

Aesop's Fables (1884)

140. The Fox and the Grapes.

A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, beguiling herself of her disappointment, and saying: "The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."

Revile not things beyond your reach.


Aesop's Fables: A New Revised Version From Original Sources (translator not identified), 1884 . Illustrations by Ernest Henry Griset (1844-1907), John Tenniel (1820-1914) and Harrison Weir (1824-1906). Available online at Project Gutenberg.



Vernon Jones (1912)



A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis, and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air. But it was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying, and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern, remarking, "I thought those Grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour."


Aesop's Fables: A New Translation by V.S. Vernon Jones with illustrations by Arthur Rackham (1912). This book is available online at Project Gutenberg.


Images of the fables in various books (credits given below)

Phryx Aesopus Habitu Poetico, by Hieronymus Osius, 1574 (artist not identified). Available online at the University of Mannheim. This book clearly recycles a set of images from another book of Aesop's fables. In some cases, the illustration does not match the fable shown, and in some cases I have not been able to identify what fable a given illustration is supposed to illustrate.

Steinhowel's Aesop: Illustrations

(Steinhowel 1479) 63. De vulpe et uva.


(Steinhowel 1501) Click on the image to see the entire page.


(Steinhowel - in Spanish, 1521)


Illustrations from the 1479 edition of Steinhowel come from the online edition at the Library of Congress. This edition is in German, not Latin, so I have reproduced only the images here. The illustrations for the 1501 edition of Steinhowel are online at the University of Mannheim. So that you can see the Latin text on these pages, each 1501 image is linked to a full page view of this edition (although the images are poor quality gif images, unlike the high-quality images at Library of Congress). Finally, I have included a 1521 edition of Steinhowel translated into Spanish, also from the Library of Congress. As you can see, the illustrations continue to follow the same basic pattern but have a decidedly different element of style (Quote from Aesopica website)