Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Prayer, which is as Harmony before God

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Prayer, which is as Harmony before God



When Tiberius reigned he was passionately fond of music. It happened that as he once pursued the chase, he was struck with the sound of a harp, whose sweetness so delighted him, that he turned his horse's head and rode to the place from which it issued. When he arrived there, he perceived a certain poor man seated on the ground, having a harp in his hand. From hence arose the melody; and the emperor was refreshed and exhilarated by the delicious tones that he created. "My friend," said the king, "inform me how it is that your harp sounds so sweetly." "My lord," answered the other, "for more than thirty years I have sat by this stream, and God has bestowed upon me such execution, that the moment I touch the chords of my harp, the very fishes, enchanted with the harmony, come even into my hand, and afford sustenance to my wife and my family. But unhappily for me, a certain whistler has arrived within these few days from another country; and he whistles so admirably, that the fishes forsake me and go over to him. Therefore, my lord, since you are powerful, and the ruler of this kingdom, give me some aid against this abominable whistler." "My friend," returned the king, "I can help you only in one thing; but this will be sufficient. I have in my hunting-bag a golden hook, which I will give you: fasten it on the top of a rod, and then strike your harp. The sound will inveigle the fishes, and as soon as they approach, by means of the hook draw them to land. If you follow my advice, the whistler will depart in great trouble." The poor man did as he was directed; and before the fishes could arrive at the place where the whistler was stationed, the hook brought them to land. The whistler, perceiving himself out-done, retired in much tribulation. (3)


My beloved, the emperor is Christ, the harmony which delights him is prayer. The water is the world; the fishes are sinners. The poor man is a preacher, and the harp is the Sacred Writings. The whistler is the devil, and the golden hook is Divine Grace.

Note 3.Page 35.

There is a fable of a fisherman piping to the fishes, in the Latin Æsop; but the story is different.