The Peacock and Juno

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of Iuno the goddesse and of the pecok and of the nyghtyngale

Every one oughte to be content of kynde / and of suche good as god hath sente vnto hym / wherof he must vse Iustly / As reherceth this fable of a pecok whiche came to Iuno the goddesse / and sayd to her I am heuy and sorowful / by cause I can not synge as wel as the nyghtyngale For euery one mocketh and scorneth me / by cause I can not synge / And Iuno wold comforte hym and sayd / thy fayre forme and beaute is fayrer and more worthy and of gretter preysynge than the songe of the nyghtyngale / For thy fethers and thy colour ben resplendysshyng as the precious Emerawd And ther is no byrde lyke to thy fethers ne to thy beaulte / And the pecok sayd thenne to Iuno / All this is nought / syth I cannot synge / And thenne Iuno sayd ageyne thus to the pecok for to contente hym / This is in the diposycion of the goddes / whiche haue gyuen to eyther of yow one propyrte / and one vertue / suche as it pleasyd them / As to thee they haue gyuen fayr fygure / to the egle haue they gyuen strengthe / and to the nyghtyngale fayr & playsaunt songe / And so to all other byrdes / wherfore euery one must be content of that that he hath

For the myserable auarycious / the more goodes that they haue the more they desyre to haue

L'Estrange's translation (1692)[edit]


The Peacock, they say, laid it extremely to Heart, that being Juno’s darling Bird, he had not the Nightingal’s Voice super-added to the Beauty of his own Plumes. Upon this Subject he petition’d his Patroness, who gave him for Answer, that Providence had assign’d every Bird its Proportion, and so bad him content himself with his Lot.

THE MORAL OF THE THREE FABLES ABOVE. The Boundaries of Heaven are in such manner distributed, that every living Creature has its share; beside, that to desire Things against Nature, is effectually to blame the very Author of Nature itself.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Peacock and Juno

The Peacock made complaint to Juno that, while the nightingale pleased every ear with his song, he himself no sooner opened his mouth than he became a laughingstock to all who heard him. The Goddess, to console him, said, "But you far excel in beauty and in size. The splendor of the emerald shines in your neck and you unfold a tail gorgeous with painted plumage." "But for what purpose have I," said the bird, "this dumb beauty so long as I am surpassed in song?' "The lot of each," replied Juno, "has been assigned by the will of the Fates--to thee, beauty; to the eagle, strength; to the nightingale, song; to the raven, favorable, and to the crow, unfavorable auguries. These are all contented with the endowments allotted to them."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Peacock and Juno

A Peacock once placed a petition before Juno desiring to have the voice of a nightingale in addition to his other attractions; but Juno refused his request. When he persisted, and pointed out that he was her favourite bird, she said:

"Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything."