Des Passagers et du Pilote


Our manuscripts and Archives received a single leaf from an early French version of Æsop’s fables. In trying to determine the correct bibliographic information for cataloging the current best guess is that the page was printed in the 1660’s and is probably from the book “Nouveau recueil des fables d’Esope : mises en franc?ois avec le Sens moral en quatre vers, & des Figures à chaque Fable, dedié a la jeunesse1.

In spite of the bibliographical questions the content of this page has as meaningful message today as it did 200 or 2000 years ago.

Des Passagers et du Pilote

Un vaisseau poussé par la tempête vint échouer sur la côte, et là s’entrouvrit. Comme il était sur le point d’être submergé par les vagues, les Passagers qui s’y étaient embarqués, jetaient de grands cris et se désespéraient.

Ils auraient pu songer à chercher les moyens de se sauver, mais la peur les troublait à tel point, qu’ils ne pensaient, les mains levées vers le ciel, qu’à implorer le secours des dieux. Cependant le Pilote leur criait, en quittant ses habits :

” Amis, s’il est bon de montrer ses bras à Jupiter, il ne l’est pas moins, dans le péril où nous sommes, de les tendre à la mer “.

Cela dit, il s’y jette, et si bien, qu’à force de nager, il gagne la côte ; il ne s’y fut pas plutôt sauvé, qu’il vit la mer engloutir, avec le vaisseau, ceux qui n’avaient eu d’autre ressource que celle de leurs voeux.

A very rough translation of this fable goes something like this:

A vessel pushed by the tempest fell on the coast, and there it opened. As he was on the point of being submerged by the waves, the Passengers who had embarked there shouted loudly and despaired.

They might have thought of seeking the means of escape, but fear disturbed them to such an extent that they thought, with their hands raised to heaven, only to implore the help of the gods. However, the Pilot shouted to them, removing his clothes:

“Friends, if it is good to show his arms to Jupiter, it is none the less, in the peril we are in, to stretch them to the sea.”

Having said that, he threw himself into it, and so well that, by dint of swimming, he reached the coast. He had no sooner saved himself, when he saw the sea swallowing up with the ship those who had no other resource than that of their vows.

Words to live by today!

Worldcat: Link

  • Title: Des Passagers et du Pilote
  • Publisher: Paris, [1660?]
  • Language: French
  • Setting: Classical Fables
  • DLWA Call Number: PZ24.2 .A254 1660?
  1. (Note that in the WorldCat link above, the earliest mention of this volume is 1718. There is a great deal of research to complete on this bibliographical record.)

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