Apophthegmata Patrum 18. Aesop-ish?

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jeidsath
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Apophthegmata Patrum 18. Aesop-ish?

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ιη΄. Ἀδελφοὶ παρέβαλον τῷ ἀββᾷ Ἀντωνίῳ ἀπὸ Σκήτεως, καὶ ἐμβάντες εἰς πλοῖον ἀπελθεῖν πρὸς αὐτὸν, εὗρον γέροντα θέλοντα καὶ αὐτὸν ἀπελθεῖν ἐκεῖ. Ἠγνόουν δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ ἀδελφοί. Καὶ καθήμενοι ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ ἐλάλουν λόγους Πατέρων, καὶ ἐκ τῆς Γραφῆς, καὶ πάλιν περὶ ἐργοχείρων ἑαυτῶν. Ὁ δὲ γέρων ἐσιώπα. Ἐλθόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοῦ ὅρμου, εὑρέθη καὶ ὁ γέρων ὑπάγων πρὸς τὸν ἀββᾶν Ἀντώνιον. Ὡς δὲ ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτὸν, λέγει αὐτοῖς· Καλὴν συνοδίαν εὕρετε, τὸν γέροντα τοῦτον. Εἶπε δὲ καὶ τῷ γέροντι· Καλοὺς ἀδελφοὺς εὗρες μετὰ σοῦ, ἀββᾶ. Λέγει ὁ γέρων· Καλοὶ μέν εἰσιν, ἀλλ’ ἡ αὐλὴ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔχει θύραν, καὶ ὁ θέλων εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὸν σταῦλον, καὶ λύει τὸν ὄνον. Τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν, ὅτι τὰ ἐρχόμενα εἰς τὸ στόμα αὐτῶν λαλοῦσιν.

18. Fratres abbatem Antonium inviserunt de Sceti, et ingressi navem ut irent ad eum, invenerunt senem qui ipse etiam illuc proficisci volebat. Fratribus autem non erat notus. Sedentes porro in navi, loquebantur sermones Patrum, necnon ex Scripturis, postea de laboribus manuum suarum. At senex tacebat. Cum autem venissent ad portum, deprehensus est etiam senex ad abbatem Antonium proficisci. Utque ad eum venerunt, ait illis : Bonum comitatum nacti estis, hunc senem. Dixit quoque seni : Probos fratres tecum reperisti, abba. Tum senex: Praeclari quidem sunt; verum aula eorum non habet januam, et quicunque vult intrat in stabulum, ac solvit asinum. Id vero dicebat, quia quidquid illis in buccam veniebat, loquebantur.
Is there an (Aesop's?) fable background to Apophthegmata Patrum 18? This story feels to me as if it's being retold from another context. The moral, "καὶ ὁ θέλων εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὸν σταῦλον, καὶ λύει τὸν ὄνον", works, but seems not quite sufficiently motivated, and one could easily imagine a story that makes the point more sharply. The sense of "ὅτι τὰ ἐρχόμενα εἰς τὸ στόμα αὐτῶν λαλοῦσιν" would be stronger with a verb like ἰέναι (that is, they *vomit* out whatever comes up to their mouth). Matthew 15:11 has "τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον". There is another version of 18., apparently trying to explain the text, that reads "εἰσερχόμενα εἰς αὐτοὺς ἐλάλουν," but this removes that mental image entirely.
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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