Disciplina Clericalis/XVIII. The Plowman with His Oxen and the Wolf and the Fox

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XVIII.[1] The Plowman with His Oxen and the Wolf and the Fox

"It is saide forwhi of a plowghman that for his oxen wold nat drawe rightly, he saide the wolf shuld ete hem. The wulf heryng that rested. Whan the day declyned to the nyght and the cherl loosid his oxen out of the plowgh, the wulf cam vnto hym saieng: 'Yeve me thyn oxen whiche thow promisest (f. 130b). To this the ploughman: 'If I saide so I affermed it nat with an oth.' And the Wulf ageyn to hym: 'I ought to have that thow promysedest.' Ther thei affermeden that it shuld come to iugement. That while they maden thei metten with the Fox. To whom the wily fox saide in their goyng: 'Whider tenden ye to go?' Thai than that was don told the fox. [To whom he] saide:[2] 'For nought ellis seeken yee a juge, forwhi therof I shal do rightwis iugement. But first suffre me to speke with oon of yow in counsail, and fro that with that other; and so I may make yow to accorde without a juge the sentence shalbe hid and clos. If forsoth otherwise incontynent be it saide.' And thei graunted; and the fox first abakk spak with the plowghman and saide: 'Gyve me an henne and another for my wif, and thow shalt have thyn oxen.' And the plowghman graunted; and this don the fox spake to the wulf saieng: 'Here thow, my friend, for thi merites and Rewardis bifore promysed as I ought if thei had bien myn owne, I have facundly somoche laboured and spoken with the Cherl that if thow wilt lete his oxen go quyte he shall yeve the a cheese to the gretnes of an helm made.' This don the wolf graunted. To whom the fox saide: 'Graunte thow the ploughman his oxen awey to leede, and I shal bryng the wher that his cheesis bien arraied and made, as that thow maist cheese of as many as thow wilt.' But the dul and foolissh wulf deceived bi the wordis of the fox, suffred the cherl to go. The fox forsoth wandryng hider and thider as moche as he myght, brought the wulf out of the wey. Whiche whan the derk nyght cam vpon, the fox brought the wulf to a diepe diche vpon whiche diche they stoode; the forme of the half moone shewed and shyned in the bottom of the diche, and [he] saide: 'Here is the cheese which I promysed [the]. If it please the go doun and ete.' Quod the wolf: 'Go thow doun first and ete.' Than quod the fox:[3] 'Go thow doun first and if thow maist nat only bryng the cheese, I shal do as thow biddist'.[4] And this saide thei saw a corde hangyng in the diche in whos hede a litel possenet was bounde, and in that other hede of the corde another litel possenet. And thei hyng bi suche engyn and sleight that whan that oon aros that other went doun. That as the Fox sye, as to the praiers and besechynges of the wolf, entred in to the litel pot and cam to the bottum. The wolf therof was glad and saide: 'Whi bryngest me nat the cheese?' Quod the Fox: 'I may nat for the gretnes; but entre thow that other pot and come as thow saidest thow woldest.' The wolf entrying in to the pot with his gretnes anon asked and cam to the bottum, that (f. 131) other risyng with the fox whiche was glad. Whiche the litel fox whan he touched the mowth of the diche lept out and left the wolf in the diche. And for thyng to come [he] lost that was present: the wolf lost both oxen and cheese."

One sentence of the Latin connecting link is here[5] omitted the sense of which is: The Arab reproved his son saying: "Take counsel of that one who has experience in the thing thou askest about, for thou canst thus gain experience more easily than if thow makest the experiment thyself.

Svcheon chastised his sone [saying]: "Ne trust nat to the counsail that thow herist of al men lest it fal to the as it happened to the thief whiche trusted and trowed to the counsail of sucheon." To that the sone: "How cam it to hym, Fader?" Than the fader saide:


  1. No. XXIII of the original, I, 32.
  2. Ms. 'What saide:' Lat. Quibus dixit.
  3. This sentence not in the Latin. See I, 32, 1. 21.
  4. Lat. Descende tu primitus, et si sola deferre non poteris, ut te iuvem faciam quae hortaris.
  5. I, 33, 1. 3.