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Link to an image of this pageá Link to an image of this page á[n2r p195]

Cuculi.

Cuckoos

XIX.

Ruricolas agreste genus plerique cuculos
Cur vocitent, quaenam prodita causa fuit?[1]
Vere novo cantat Coccyx, quo tempore vites
Qui non absolvit iure notatur iners.
Fert ova in nidos alienos, qualiter ille
Cui thalamum prodit uxor adulterio.

Whatever explanation has been given for the custom of calling country-dwellers, that rustic race, ‘cuckoos’? - When spring is new, the cuckoo calls, and anyone who has not pruned his vines by this time is rightly blamed for being idle. The cuckoo desposits its eggs in other birds’ nests, like the man on whose account a wife betrays her marriage bed in adultery.

Notes:

1. áSee Pliny, Natural History, 18.66.249, and Horace, Satires, 1.7.31, for the use of the word ‘cuckoo’ as term of mockery for the idle man who has failed to finish pruning his vines before the cuckoo is heard calling.


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    Quello, che dinota questa voce Cuc¨.

    That which denotes this voice Cuckoo.


    Grida spesso al villan con voce altera
    Cuc¨ pi¨ d’uno, e non senza cagione:
    Per˛, che’l cuco canta a Primavera,
    Al potar de le viti atta stagione:
    Dove chi cessa, e non fa l’opra intera
    Porta egli l’uova in altrui nido e cesta:
    Tal chi pone ad altrui le corna in testa.


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