picto quod iuga delicata collo
pardus sustinet inprobaeque tigres
indulgent patientiam flagello,
mordent aurea quod lupata cerui,
quod frenis Libyci domantur ursi
et, quantum Calydon tulisse fertur,
paret purpureis aper capistris,
turpes esseda quod trahunt uisontes
et molles dare iussa quod choreas
nigro belua non negat magistro:
quis spectacula non putet deorum?
haec transit tamen, ut minora, quisquis
uenatus humiles uidet leonum,
quos uelox leporum timor fatigat.
dimittunt, repetunt, amantque captos,
et securior est in ore praeda,
laxos cui dare peruiosque rictus
gaudent et timidos tenere dentes,
mollem frangere dum pudet rapinam,
stratis cum modo uenerint iuuencis.
haec clementia non paratur arte,
sed norunt cui seruiant leones.
On its spotted neck the leopard carries a dainty yoke, and vicious tigresses patiently give themselves up to the whip; stags bite the golden spiked bits, Libyan bears are tamed with reins, and a boar, as big as Calydon is said to have carried off, obeys purple halters. Ugly bison drag chariots, and the great beast, ordered to perform gentle dances, does not refuse its black master. So who would not think these spectacles the work of the gods? But anyone who sees the humble hunting of the lions, who are tired by the hares' rapid fear, passes over all these things as though they were of less importance. The lions let the hares go, they go after them again, they love their captives, and the prey is safer in their mouth. They are glad to present it with wide open mouths which can be passed through, and to hold back their timid teeth, while they are ashamed to crush their tender plunder although they have just come from laying bullocks low. This clemency is not brought about by training, but the lions know whom they serve.