Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of the actual state of the World

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of the actual state of the World



In the reign of a certain king there happened a sudden and remarkable change; as, from good to evil; from truth to falsehood; from strength to weakness; from justice to injustice. This mutableness excited the king's wonder, and enquiring the cause of four of the wisest philosophers, they went, after much deliberation, to the four gates of the city, and severally inscribed thereon three causes. The first wrote—"Power is justice; therefore the land is without law. Day is night; therefore, there is no pathway through the land. The warrior flees from the battle; therefore, the kingdom has no honour." The second wrote—"One is two; therefore, the kingdom is without truth. The friend is an enemy; therefore, the kingdom is without faith. Evil is good; therefore, the kingdom is without devotion." The third wrote—"Reason is united with licentiousness; therefore, the kingdom is without name. A thief is set on high; therefore, the kingdom is without wealth. The dove would become an eagle; therefore, there is no prudence in the land." The fourth wrote—"The will is a counsellor; therefore, the kingdom is ill ordered. Money gives sentence; therefore, the kingdom is badly governed. God is dead; therefore, the whole kingdom is full of sinners[1]."

  1. The application is long and uninteresting, and incapable of abridgement; I have therefore thought it best to omit it entirely. It contains, however, what may lead us to suspect that certain of these Tales (though, I believe, very few) are of German derivation. "Corabola," says the original, "vulgariter: die schnock wil fliegen also hoch als der adler. Ideo non est discretio," &c. So one edition; two others read, "Der weul wylt vlyegen also hoge als der arnt aquila, Ideo, &c.; and two, one of which belonged to Mr. Tyrwhitt, now in the British Museum,) have the Latin translation, "Culex cupit tam altè volare, sicut ipsa aquilla." Corabola above, I apprehend should be Parabola.