The Two Ambassadors part 3

Upon this the bishop with great dignity approached them, and taking them by the hand, said, “You are welcome, gentlemen; what tidings of import may you bring?” Each of the am-bassadors now looked at the other, and bowing, said, “Do you speak!” “No, sir,” was the reply; “do you speak, sir; I cannot think of it;” till at length the boldest of the two, addressing the bishop, observed: “We come, my lord, as ambassadors from your poor servants of Casentino, and I can assure your Grace that both those who send us and we who are sent are equally devoted to you; but, please your Grace, we are all of us men of fact, but of few words: our mission was intrusted to us in haste; and whatever may be the occasion of it, either our assembly must have informed us wrong, or we have in some way misunderstood them.

Grace’s good offices

Nevertheless, we humbly recommend both them and ourselves to your Grace’s good offices; though what possessed them to send

The Two Ambassadors part 2

Having taken their seats at table, they luckily found the wine good; and so it was that they were more pleased with this circumstance than sorry for the mission they had forgotten. Indeed it was so excellent, that they repeatedly emptied their glasses, toasting all their friends in town until they became half stupefied, so that, far from recollecting their embassy after dinner, they were in no condition even to talk about it, and hardly knowing where they were,, they both dropped asleep.

On rousing themselves once more, one of them inquired of the other whether he had yet succeeded. “I know not,” was the reply; “but I know that our host’s is the best wine I ever drank: the truth is, I have never thought about it since dinner, and now I hardly know where I am.” “And I declare it has been the same with me,” answered his friend; “the Lord only knows what we shall do!

However, we will stay here to-day and to-night, for the night is always favorable t

The Two Ambassadors part 1

Franco Sacchetti (1335 – 1400)

Another of the Fourteenth Century writers who fell under the influence of Boccaccio is Franco Sacchetti. Sacchetti, though he was prominent in Florentine political affairs, was essentially a writer and poet. His collection of stories, the Novelliero, contains some three hundred tales, the best of which are racy anecdotes of contemporary life, related with wit and humour. They constitute an invaluable picture of the life of the lower classes of the day.

The Two Ambassadors falls into the category of the joke story, so cleverly elaborated more than five hundred years later by O. Henry. But, unlike many of its kind, it is intrinsically interesting because of the multiplicity of human touches with which the writer has been able to make his characters live.

The present version is translated by Thomas Roscoe and reprinted from his Italian Novelists, London, no date. The story has no title in the original.

The

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

The Roast-meat Seller part 2

Yes, by the blood of a goose, answered the Porter, I am content. Seiny Jhon the Fool, finding that the Cook and Porter had compromised the determination of their variance and debate to the discretion of his award and arbitrament; after that the reasons on either side whereupon was grounded the mutual fierceness of their brawling jar had been to the full displayed and laid open before him, commanded the Porter to draw out of the fab of his belt a piece of money, if he had it.

Whereupon the Porter immediately without delay, in reverence to the authority of such a judicious umpire, put the tenth part of a silver Phillip into his hand. This little Phillip Seiny Jhon took, then set it on his left shoulder, to try by feeling if it was of a sufficient weight; after that, laying it on the palm of his hand he made it ring and tingle, to understand by the ear if it was of a good alloy in the metal whereof it was composed:

Thereafter he put it to the ball or apple of his

The Roast-meat Seller part 1

The Roast-meat Seller

At Paris, in the Roast-meat Cookery of the Petit Chastelet, before the cook-shop of one of the roast-meat sellers of that lane, a cer­tain hungry porter was eating his bread, after he had by parcels kept it awhile above the reek and steam of a fat goose on the spit, turning at a great fire, and found it so besmoaked with the vapor, to be savory; which the Cook observing, took no notice, till after having ravined his Penny Loaf, whereof no Morsel has been unsmoakified, he was about discamping and going away; but by your leave, as the Fellow thought to have departed thence shot-free, the Master-Cook laid hold upon him by the Gorget, demanded payment for the smoak of his roast- meat.

The Porter answered, that he had sustained no loss at all; that by what he had done there was no diminution made of the flesh, that he had taken nothing of his, and that therefore he was not indebted to him in anything: As for the smoak in question, that, altho

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son (From the New Testament, Luke XV)

The prodigal is a parable, spoken by Jesus in praise of forgiveness. It is one of the great stories of the world, and is justly regarded as a perfect model of the art of story-telling.

The present text is taken from the King James version. There is no title to the story in the original.

The Prodigal Son

And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks th

The History of Susanna

The History of Susanna (From The Apocrypha)

Susanna was originally a part of the Book of Daniel, but was set apart as apocryphal, because it “was not in Hebrew.” It is none the less a story of remarkable vividness, told with skill and dramatic power.

The text used here is that printed in Volume IV of Ancient Hebrew Literature, in Everyman’s Library, published in 1907 by J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here included.

The History of Susanna

There dwelt a man in Babylon, called Joakim: and he took a wife, whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, a very fair woman, and one that feared the Lord. Her parents also were righteous, and taught their daughter according to the law of Moses. Now Joakim was a great rich man, and had a fair garden joining unto his house: and to him resorted the Jews; because he was more honorable than all others. The same year were appointed two of the ancients of the people to be judges, su

Orpheus and Eurydice

Ovid (43 B.C.—18 A.D.?)

Publius Ovidius Naso, better known to readers of English as Ovid, was born not far from Rome, and spent the latter part of his life in exile. The Metamorphoses, his most ambitious work, is an attempt to reshape in metrical form the chief stories of Greek mythology, and several from Roman mythology. Orpheus and Eurydice, one of the most human of the legends of antiquity, is a graceful piece of writing. Its “point” is as clear and as cleverly turned as you will find in any ancient tale.

The present translation is based by the editors upon two early versions, the one very literal, the other a paraphrase. The story, which has no title in the original, appears in the Tenth Book of the Metamorphoses.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Thence Hymenaeus, clad in a saffron-colored robe, passed through the unmeasured spaces of the air and directed his course to the region of the Ciconians, and in vain was invoked by the voice of Orph

Phineus And The Harpies

Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd Century B.c.)

Although he was a late writer in the epic form, Apollonius treated ancient mythical material, but from the standpoint of a scholar and a literary stylist. He left his native land, Rhodes, and settled m Alexandria, then the centre of the cultured world. The tale of Phineus is not new, but the details which embellish it, and the verbal pyrotechnics which he lavished upon it, are highly characteristic of the decadent period in which it was written.

The present translation is that of R. C. Seaton, in the Loeb edition, William Heinemann, London, 1912. There is no title to the story in the original.

Phineus And The Harpies

There Phineus, son of Agenor, had his home by the sea, Phineus, who above all men endured most bitter woes because of the gift of prophecy which Leto’s son had granted him aforetime. And he reverenced not a whit even Zeus himself, for he foretold unerringly to men his sacred will. Whe