Posted by: ayac | September 23, 2014

Aesop’s Fables 36: The Quetzal and the Parrot

Skipping ahead a bit to a fable that might be slightly more interesting, because the Nahuatl contains significant changes. This is labelled 39 in the manuscript, but it comes between 35 and 37. It’s based on The Peacock and the Jackdaw (Perry 219), but the birds have been replaced with native ones. Quetzaltototl (Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno) for peacock makes sense, since they’re both known for their tails, but toznene (Yellow-headed Parrot, Amazona oratrix) for jackdaw is a bit odd since the jackdaw is meant to be plain in contrast to the peacock, while the yellow-headed parrot is quite colorful. Probably the connection is their intelligence.

The quetzaltototl and the toznene, in the Florentine Codex’s renditions and in real life:

The main difference between the Latin and the Nahuatl is the elaboration of the parrot’s speech. The parrot in this fable and the coyote in fable 3 both open with a form of “please listen”, but while the coyote uses the plain form tla xiccaquica[n], the parrot uses the reverential form tla xicmocaquiltican, indicating that he’s speaking to nobles. He also addresses them as totecuiyohuane “our lords” using the masculine vocative -e, which is absent from the speech of the female coyote. There’s also a mention of ypalnemohuani, which is supposed to have been a title of Tezcatlipoca, though I’m only aware of one instance of it being used that way (FC bk. 3, f. 7v.); it seems to be more commonly used of the Christian god.

This time I’m going to try comparing the Latin and the Nahuatl side by side, with English translations of both. Both translations probably need some refinements.

PAVO ET MONEDVLA
¶ quetzaltototl yhuan toznene.
The Peacock and the Jackdaw
The Quetzal and the Yellow-Headed Amazon.

•—
•Ceppa omocentlalique ynixquich nepapantotome ynic / quipehpenaz que ynaquin yntla tocauh yez.
•—
•One time all the various birds gathered together to choose who would be their king.

•CVm haberẽt comitia uolucres regi creando,
•Auhy / nocenquiz que yhuan inyequinemi lia ynac ye / huatl quixquetzaz que intlah tocayez:
•When the birds were having an assembly to appoint a king,
•And when they had assembled and were considering who they would appoint to be their king,

•petijt regnum pauo, quòd ſe ob formam exi-/miam illo dignũ præ cunctis eſſe diceret.
•niman y / mixpan moquetz inquetzaltototl , oquimihtla / ni yntla tocayotl .
•the peacock asked for the throne, as he said that due to his outstanding appearance he was most worthy of it of all.
•the quetzal stood before them; he asked for the throne.

•Qui / cũ omniũ ſuffragia laturus uideretur:
•auh yniquac yeachi mochintin / qui tlahuel caquilia ynic yehuatl yequixquetzaz / nequi ynintlatocauhyez:
•When it looked he would receive everyone’s vote,
•But when almost everyone had heard and accepted what he had said, so that they wanted to appoint him to be their king,

•Hic tamẽ rex, / inquit monedula,ſi forte ſit factus,& aquilam hoſtẽ habuerimus , quidnã opis auxilijúe poterit afferre?
•niman tetlan hualquiz. / yn toznene yequinnonotza quimilhui, Tlaxicmocaquiltican tote / cui yohuane ynamiquecholhuan ypalnemohuani, yntlaye / yehuatl anquimotenehuilia totlatocauhyez in nican yhcac / quetzaltototl : auh in tlaquenmanian tech yao chihuaz quauh / tli , quexquich ynitlapalihuiz oncatqui? cuixhuelquinami / quiz? auh yehica in nehuatl yuh niquitta yehuatl techne / qui tiquixquetzazque in totlatocauhyez quauhtli.
•Yet if he happened to be made king, said the jackdaw, and we had the eagle as our enemy, what strength or support would he be able to bring?
•Then the yellow-headed parrot came out from among them. He advised them, saying, “Please listen, our lords, you who are the birds of The One Through Whom There Is Life. If you proclaim the quetzal standing here to be our king, and if some time the eagle makes war upon us, how much strength would he have? Is he able to match him? And so it seems to me that he wants us to appoint the eagle to be our king.”

•Monet fabula,in principibus legẽdis non ſpeciem / modo, ſed etiã uirtutẽ et ſapientiã ſpectari oportere.
•Yniçaçanilli techmachtia . Cayniquac tehpenalo tlahtoque / inquimocuitlahuizque altepetl hamo yehuatl mottaz ynin / chipahuazliz yninqualnexiliz : çayehuatl mottaz. ynin chica / hualiz yhuan ynimixtlamatiliz ynin nezcaliliz.
•The fable teaches that in choosing leaders not only looks, but also strength and wisdom must be considered.
•This fable teaches us: When kings are chosen who will take of a state, what should be looked at is not their appearance, their beauty. What should be looked at it only their strength and their wisdom, their training.

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