ⲡⲓⲃⲁϣⲟⲣ ⲛⲉⲙϯⲁ̀ⲃⲟⲕⲓ

This is a modern Coptic translation of The Fox and the Raven from the Fables of Aesop – ⲡⲓⲃⲁϣⲟⲣ ⲛⲉⲙϯⲁ̀ⲃⲟⲕⲓ ⲉ̀ⲃⲟⲗ ϧⲉⲛⲛⲓϣϥⲱ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉⲉ̀ⲥⲱⲡⲟⲥ.

I’ve included translation notes below where I have coined new expressions or need to explain my choices.

👆 Click on the Coptic text to show its English translation.

ⲉ̀ⲃⲟⲗ ϧⲉⲛⲛⲓϣϥⲱ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉⲉ̀ⲥⲱⲡⲟⲥ

—ⲁⲙⲃⲣⲟⲥⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ


I’ve slightly adapted this beautiful Egyptianesque imagining of the fable by Victor Wilbour (c. 1916), held at the Smithsonian Design Museum.

Here it is shown in full length.

Translation notes

I would like to express my thanks to Bashandy for his corrections and suggestions on a first draft of this composition.

Ⲉ̀ⲥⲱⲡⲟⲥ: This is my Coptic rendering of the original Greek Αἴσωπος since, as far as I know, the name does not occur anywhere in surviving Coptic literature. The spelling with initial ⲉ̀- instead of ⲁⲓ- reflects the fact that in Koine Greek the diphthong had monophthongised (Horrocks, 2010, 161). Accordingly, Greek loanwords with αἰ- in Coptic are often spelled ⲉ̀-, e.g. ⲉ̀ⲧⲓⲁ̀ “cause, reason”< αἰτία, ⲉ̀ⲕⲩⲡⲧⲓⲟⲥ “Egyptian” < αἰγύπτιος, ⲉ̀ⲭⲙⲁⲗⲱⲥⲓⲁ̀ “captivity” < αἰχμαλωσία, though the historical spellings with ⲁⲓ- also sometimes occur.

Ϧⲉⲛⲟⲩⲥⲣⲱϥⲧ: An adverb “at leisure, leisurely” coined from Sahidic ϩ︤ⲛ︥ⲟⲩⲥ︤ⲣ︥ϥⲉ with the same meaning (Crum, 1939, 357b).

Ϯⲥⲫⲏⲓϯ: A composite verb “to drool, salivate” that I’ve coined from a Sahidic example in which a teething baby is said to ϯⲥϩⲃⲏⲏⲧⲉ (ϯ- “to give, produce” and ⲥϩⲃⲏⲏⲧⲉ “foam, spittle”) so “to drool” (Crum, 1939, 384b); I’ve extended the meaning to encompass drooling animals. Other composite verbs with ⲥⲫⲏⲓϯ indicate the foaming of the mouth in seizures and also the foaming of the waves of the sea.

Ⲭⲁⲕⲕⲁ: This is an imitation of the sound of a raven or crow. I chose this on the basis of onomatopoeic elements in names for certain birds that make a similar sound, namely, ⲭⲁⲕⲕⲁ- (var. ⲕⲁⲕⲕⲁ-) in ⲭⲁⲕⲕⲁⲙⲁⲩ “(Barn) owl” (probably similarly also Sahidic ⲕⲟⲩⲕ) and ⲕⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩ- (var. ⲕⲁⲕⲟⲩ-) in ⲕⲟⲩⲕⲟⲩⲫⲁⲧ “hoopoe” (Crum, 1939, 516b; 102a; 100b). Since ravens and crows seem to have an a-vocalism, similar to the Barn Owl, ⲭⲁⲕⲕⲁ is more appropriate.

Orthography and punctuation: I do not want to dwell on these difficult topics at length here. In principle, I have tried to keep to norms established or detectable in the earliest Bohairic Coptic manuscripts. Briefly:

  • I’ve used spacing to separate groups into prosodic units and the djinkim to mark sonorant syllables in keeping with practice in the oldest Bohairic manuscripts.
  • I’ve used capitalisation for the beginning of sentences and adopted the modern full stop and comma to separate sentences and clauses. The same sense units are separated in Bohairic manuscripts inconsistently by various methods.
  • I’ve used guillemets « » rather than English double quotes ” ” to indicate direct speech as these are most similar to the diple, the origin of these marks, which are sometimes found in Coptic manuscripts in various forms.
  • Finally, I have adopted exclamation marks from modern scripts to indicate exclamatory statements, though this is an innovation and unlikely to be found in Coptic manuscripts.

Did you notice a mistake? Or do you have a suggestion or just want to contact me? Get in touch here.


  • Crum, Walter Ewing. 1939. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Horrocks, Geoffrey C. 2010. Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers. 2nd ed. Oxford ; Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell.
Cite this page:
Boles, A. “ⲡⲓⲃⲁϣⲟⲣ ⲛⲉⲙϯⲁ̀ⲃⲟⲕⲓ” The Coptist, 2 February 2024; Available at: https://www.coptist.com/2024/02/02/the-fox-and-the-raven/. (Accessed: 12 July 2024).

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