THE CERCOPES (fragments)
Fragment #1 — Suidas, s.v.: Cercopes. These were two brothers living upon the earth who practised every kind of knavery. They were called Cercopes (1) because of their cunning doings: one of them was named Passalus and the other Acmon. Their mother, a daughter of Memnon, seeing their tricks, told them to keep clear of Black-bottom, that is, of Heracles. These Cercopes were sons of Theia and Ocean, and are said to have been turned to stone for trying to deceive Zeus.
`Liars and cheats, skilled in deeds irremediable, accomplished knaves. Far over the world they roamed deceiving men as they wandered continually.’
(1) i.e. `monkey-men’.
THE BATTLE OF FROGS AND MICE (303 lines)
(ll. 1-8) Here I begin: and first I pray the choir of the Muses to come down from Helicon into my heart to aid the lay which I have newly written in tablets upon my knee. Fain would I sound in all men’s ears that awful strife, that clamorous deed of war, and tell how the Mice proved their valour on the Frogs and rivalled the exploits of the Giants, those earth-born men, as the tale was told among mortals. Thus did the war begin.
(ll. 9-12) One day a thirsty Mouse who had escaped the ferret, dangerous foe, set his soft muzzle to the lake’s brink and revelled in the sweet water. There a loud-voiced pond-larker spied him: and uttered such words as these.
(ll. 13-23) `Stranger, who are you? Whence come you to this shore, and who is he who begot you? Tell me all this truly and let me not find you lying. For if I find you worthy to be my friend, I will take you to my house and give you many noble gifts such as men give to their guests. I am the king Puff-jaw, and am honoured in all the pond, being ruler of the Frogs continually. The father that brought me up was Mud-man who mated with Waterlady by the banks of Eridanus. I see, indeed, that you are well-looking and stouter than the ordinary, a sceptred king and a warrior in fight; but, come, make haste and tell me your descent.’
(ll. 24-55) Then Crumb-snatcher answered him and said: `Why do you ask my race, which is well-known amongst all, both men and gods and the birds of heaven? Crumb-snatcher am I called, and I am the son of Bread-nibbler — he was my stout-hearted father — and my mother was Quern-licker, the daughter of Ham-gnawer the king: she bare me in the mouse-hole and nourished me with food, figs and nuts and dainties of all kinds. But how are you to make me your friend, who am altogether different in nature? For you get your living in the water, but I am used to each such foods as men have: I never miss the thrice-kneaded loaf in its neat, round basket, or the thin-wrapped cake full of sesame and cheese, or the slice of ham, or