In that last post, the wolf was the hero of the story, but that is not always the case, as you can see in today's saying, which warns us instead to beware of the wolf! It may not always look like a wolf, but it will certainly act like a wolf, which could put us in serious danger.
In a literal sense, the wolf might try to change his coat by replacing it with that of a sheep, as in the proverbial "wolf in sheep's clothing," as we saw earlier with the saying that warned us: Pelle sub agnina latitat mens saepe lupina, "Beneath the lamb's skin often lurks a wolf's mind."
The wolf is also famous for trying to change in other ways, such as deciding to become a monk, or deciding to become a vegetarian, or offering to be a midwife to the sow, or making an alliance with the sheep, or even pretending to be a shepherd himself. In all of these situations, the wolf may not look like the typical wolf, but we should always watch out, as these outward changes do not mean that there is any change in the inward wolf, as you can see in Odo of Cheriton's story about the wolf here called Isengrimus here, his name in the medieval beast epic tradition:
Contigit quod quidam Paterfamilias habuit XII Oues. Voluit peregrinari et commendavit Oves suas Ysemgrino, id est Lupo, compatri suo. Et compater iuravit quod bene conservaret eas. Profectus est statim. Ysemgrinus interim cogitavit de Ovibus et uno die comedit de una, altera die de alia, ita quod vix tres invenit Paterfamilias, quando reversus est. Quaerebat a compatre quid factum fuerit de aliis Ovibus. Respondit Ysemgrimus quod mors ex temperalitate venit super eas. Et dixit Paterfamilias: Da mihi pelles; et inventa sunt vestigia dentium Lupi. Et ait Paterfamilias: Reus es mortis; et fecit Lupum suspendi.So, the wolf pays the price in the end for his misdeeds, but it is the man who is the biggest loser: he foolishly trusted his sheep to the care of the wolf and lost his flock as result, when he really should have known better. If only he had paid attention to today's saying!
It happened that a certain man had twelve sheep. He wanted to go on a journey, and he entrusted the sheep to Isengrimus, that is, to the wolf, his associate. And his associate swore that he would take good care of them. The man departed immediately. Isengrimus meanwhile got to thinking about the sheep and one day he ate one sheep, and the next day he ate another sheep, and so on until the man found scarcely three sheep when he returned home. He asked his associate what had happened to the other sheep. Isengrimus answered that death had come upon them unseasonably. And the man said: Give me their skins, and the traces of the Wolf's teeth could be seen there. And the man said: You are guilty of a capital crime, and he had the wolf hanged.
So, hoping you have managed to avoid all wolves, real and metaphorical, in your vicinity, here is today's proverb read out loud:
Lupus pilum mutat, non mentem.
If you are reading this via RSS: The audio content is not syndicated via RSS; please visit the Latin Audio Proverbs blog to listen to the audio.
For more Latin proverbs, fables and commentary, visit the Bestiaria Latina blog, or you can sign up to receive the latest posts by email.
Aesop's Fables in Latin now available at Amazon.com.