Nuremberg: Gedrückt zu Nürnberg durch Friderich Gutknecht, 1554.
Quarto: 19 x 14.5 cm. p. A4, B2
FIRST COLLECTED EDITION. The first work was first printed in 1535 as “Eyn new gedichte von den Schmeichlern”( VD16 S 478). The third fable appeared as a broadside ca. 1540 (Weller 82, not in VD16). I have been unable to trace an earlier ed. of the second fable.
Bound in modern vellum over boards (soiled, slightly bowed). The text is in very good condition with a little light dust-soiling, a few small spots on the final two leaves, and soiling to the verso of the final leaf. With two woodcut illustrations and a fine woodcut ornament on the final leaf. No copies traced in North America.
Hans Sachs’ reworkings of three traditional fables, two by Aesop (“The shepherd flatters the wolf” and “The hares and the frogs”), and one (“the envious man and the miser”) by the Latin fabulist Avianus. The first woodcut shows the devious wolf hiding in his cave. The second shows the miser and envious man having their eyes gouged out.
The poet and playwright Hans Sachs, a shoemaker and guild master by trade, was an accomplished Meistersinger of the Nuremberg School (Sachs is the title character of Wagner’s “Meistersinger”). Sachs’ songs, plays, and dialogues address the social concerns of his day and the effects of the Reformation on the established social order.
1. Ein yder sehe für sich und verberg sich hinder keinen Schmeichler.
[Ein jeder sehe für sich und verbarg sich hinter keinen Schmeichler.]
The shepherd tries to deceive the wolf:
A wolf, stalked by a hunter, comes upon a shepherd and begs him to hide him from the hunter, promising a rich reward. The shepherd agrees to help and the wolf hides in a cave. The hunter, coming upon the spot but not seeing the wolf, asks the shepherd if he has seen his quarry. The shepherd, knowing that the wolf is watching them, indicates with his hands that the wolf has gone off in a certain direction. Yet, while he does so, he tries (by means of his eyes) to let the hunter know that the wolf is in fact hiding in the cave. The hunter fails to see this and heads off. The shepherd then addresses the wolf, telling him that he should be grateful that he has saved his life. The wolf thanks him but -being fully aware of the shepherd’s deceit, damns the shepherd’s eyes.
2. Ein schöne Histori von dem Neidigen und dem Geitzigen
[Schöne Historie von dem Neidigen und dem Geizigen]
The Envious man and the Miser:
“In this fable, Jupiter sent Phoebus to earth, where he stumbled upon an envious and a miserly person. He offered the miser a wish, adding that whatever he wished for should be given double to his companion. The miser determined to wish for nothing, knowing he would get only half what the other received, and left it to his companion to make the wish. Thereupon the envious man took revenge by wishing that one of his own eyes be gouged out, so that his companion would be made blind. Sachs concludes that envy makes envious persons suffer. They delight in the misery of others even if they are about to suffer the same fate themselves, and their hearts are full of poison.”(Roper, The Witch in the Western Imagination)
3. "Ein yder trag sein joch dise Zeit”
[Ein jeder trage sein Joch diese Zeit und überwind sein Übel mit Geduld]
The hares and the frogs: Enduring and overcoming evil with patience:
Once upon a time some hares, driven desperate by the many enemies (foxes, wolves, falcons, hunters) that threatened them from every direction, came to the sad resolution that there was nothing left for them to do but kill themselves. They scurried to a nearby lake, determined to drown themselves, the most miserable of creatures. A group of frogs seated upon the bank, frightened at the approach of the hares, leaped in great alarm and confusion into the water. ‘Nay, then, my friends,’ said the leader of the hares, ‘our case is not so desperate yet, for here are other poor creatures more faint-hearted than ourselves.’.
VD16, S 479 (and VD16, S 367; VD16, S 527); Goed. II, 430, 252; Weller, Sachs 163