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Aesop's Fables

By Aesop
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Aesop's Fables

By Aesop

Translated by George Fyler Townsend

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Section 4

The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat

The Birds waged war with the Beasts, and each were by turns the conquerors. A Bat, fearing the uncertain issues of the fight, always fought on the side which he felt was the strongest. When peace was proclaimed, his deceitful conduct was apparent to both combatants. Therefore being condemned by each for his treachery, he was driven forth from the light of day, and henceforth concealed himself in dark hiding-places, flying always alone and at night.

The Spendthrift and the Swallow

A young man, a great spendthrift, had run through all his patrimony and had but one good cloak left. One day he happened to see a Swallow, which had appeared before its season, skimming along a pool and twittering gaily. He supposed that summer had come, and went and sold his cloak. Not many days later, winter set in again with renewed frost and cold. When he found the unfortunate Swallow lifeless on the ground, he said, "Unhappy bird! what have you done? By thus appearing before the springtime you have not only killed yourself, but you have wrought my destruction also."

The Fox and the Lion

A Fox saw a Lion confined in a cage, and standing near him, bitterly reviled him. The Lion said to the Fox, "It is not thou who revilest me; but this mischance which has befallen me."

The Owl and the Birds

An Owl, in her wisdom, counseled the Birds that when the acorn first began to sprout, to pull it all up out of the ground and not allow it to grow. She said acorns would produce mistletoe, from which an irremediable poison, the bird- lime, would be extracted and by which they would be captured. The Owl next advised them to pluck up the seed of the flax, which men had sown, as it was a plant which boded no good to them. And, lastly, the Owl, seeing an archer approach, predicted that this man, being on foot, would contrive darts armed with feathers which would fly faster than the wings of the Birds themselves. The Birds gave no credence to these warning words, but considered the Owl to be beside herself and said that she was mad. But afterwards, finding her words were true, they wondered at her knowledge and deemed her to be the wisest of birds. Hence it is that when she appears they look to her as knowing all things, while she no longer gives them advice, but in solitude laments their past folly.

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner

A Trumpeter, bravely leading on the soldiers, was captured by the enemy. He cried out to his captors, "Pray spare me, and do not take my life without cause or without inquiry. I have not slain a single man of your troop. I have no arms, and carry nothing but this one brass trumpet." "That is the very reason for which you should be put to death," they said; "for, while you do not fight yourself, your trumpet stirs all the others to battle."

The Ass in the Lion's Skin

An Ass, having put on the Lion's skin, roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met in his wanderings. At last coming upon a Fox, he tried to frighten him also, but the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, "I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray."

The Sparrow and the Hare

A Hare pounced upon by an eagle sobbed very much and uttered cries like a child. A Sparrow upbraided her and said, "Where now is thy remarkable swiftness of foot? Why were your feet so slow?" While the Sparrow was thus speaking, a hawk suddenly seized him and killed him. The Hare was comforted in her death, and expiring said, "Ah! you who so lately, when you supposed yourself safe, exulted over my calamity, have now reason to deplore a similar misfortune."

The Flea and the Ox

A Flea thus questioned an Ox: "What ails you, that being so huge and strong, you submit to the wrongs you receive from men and slave for them day by day, while I, being so small a creature, mercilessly feed on their flesh and drink their blood without stint?' The Ox replied: "I do not wish to be ungrateful, for I am loved and well cared for by men, and they often pat my head and shoulders." "Woe's me!" said the flea; "this very patting which you like, whenever it happens to me, brings with it my inevitable destruction."

The Goods and the Ills

All the Goods were once driven out by the Ills from that common share which they each had in the affairs of mankind; for the Ills by reason of their numbers had prevailed to possess the earth. The Goods wafted themselves to heaven and asked for a righteous vengeance on their persecutors. They entreated Jupiter that they might no longer be associated with the Ills, as they had nothing in common and could not live together, but were engaged in unceasing warfare; and that an indissoluble law might be laid down for their future protection. Jupiter granted their request and decreed that henceforth the Ills should visit the earth in company with each other, but that the Goods should one by one enter the habitations of men. Hence it arises that Ills abound, for they come not one by one, but in troops, and by no means singly: while the Goods proceed from Jupiter, and are given, not alike to all, but singly, and separately; and one by one to those who are able to discern them.

The Dove and the Crow

A Dove shut up in a cage was boasting of the large number of young ones which she had hatched. A Crow hearing her, said: "My good friend, cease from this unseasonable boasting. The larger the number of your family, the greater your cause of sorrow, in seeing them shut up in this prison-house." Mercury and the Workmen

A Workman, felling wood by the side of a river, let his axe drop - by accident into a deep pool. Being thus deprived of the means of his livelihood, he sat down on the bank and lamented his hard fate. Mercury appeared and demanded the cause of his tears. After he told him his misfortune, Mercury plunged into the stream, and, bringing up a golden axe, inquired if that were the one he had lost. On his saying that it was not his, Mercury disappeared beneath the water a second time, returned with a silver axe in his hand, and again asked the Workman if it were his. When the Workman said it was not, he dived into the pool for the third time and brought up the axe that had been lost. The Workman claimed it and expressed his joy at its recovery. Mercury, pleased with his honesty, gave him the golden and silver axes in addition to his own. The Workman, on his return to his house, related to his companions all that had happened. One of them at once resolved to try and secure the same good fortune for himself. He ran to the river and threw his axe on purpose into the pool at the same place, and sat down on the bank to weep. Mercury appeared to him just as he hoped he would; and having learned the cause of his grief, plunged into the stream and brought up a golden axe, inquiring if he had lost it. The Workman seized it greedily, and declared that truly it was the very same axe that he had lost. Mercury, displeased at his knavery, not only took away the golden axe, but refused to recover for him the axe he had thrown into the pool.

The Eagle and the Jackdaw

An Eagle, flying down from his perch on a lofty rock, seized upon a lamb and carried him aloft in his talons. A Jackdaw, who witnessed the capture of the lamb, was stirred with envy and determined to emulate the strength and flight of the Eagle. He flew around with a great whir of his wings and settled upon a large ram, with the intention of carrying him off, but his claws became entangled in the ram's fleece and he was not able to release himself, although he fluttered with his feathers as much as he could. The shepherd, seeing what had happened, ran up and caught him. He at once clipped the Jackdaw's wings, and taking him home at night, gave him to his children. On their saying, "Father, what kind of bird is it?' he replied, "To my certain knowledge he is a Daw; but he would like you to think an Eagle."

The Fox and the Crane

A Fox invited a Crane to supper and provided nothing for his entertainment but some soup made of pulse, which was poured out into a broad flat stone dish. The soup fell out of the long bill of the Crane at every mouthful, and his vexation at not being able to eat afforded the Fox much amusement. The Crane, in his turn, asked the Fox to sup with him, and set before her a flagon with a long narrow mouth, so that he could easily insert his neck and enjoy its contents at his leisure. The Fox, unable even to taste it, met with a fitting requital, after the fashion of her own hospitality.

Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and Momus

According to an ancient legend, the first man was made by Jupiter, the first bull by Neptune, and the first house by Minerva. On the completion of their labors, a dispute arose as to which had made the most perfect work. They agreed to appoint Momus as judge, and to abide by his decision. Momus, however, being very envious of the handicraft of each, found fault with all. He first blamed the work of Neptune because he had not made the horns of the bull below his eyes, so he might better see where to strike. He then condemned the work of Jupiter, because he had not placed the heart of man on the outside, that everyone might read the thoughts of the evil disposed and take precautions against the intended mischief. And, lastly, he inveighed against Minerva because she had not contrived iron wheels in the foundation of her house, so its inhabitants might more easily remove if a neighbor proved unpleasant. Jupiter, indignant at such inveterate faultfinding, drove him from his office of judge, and expelled him from the mansions of Olympus.

The Eagle and the Fox

An Eagle and a Fox formed an intimate friendship and decided to live near each other. The Eagle built her nest in the branches of a tall tree, while the Fox crept into the underwood and there produced her young. Not long after they had agreed upon this plan, the Eagle, being in want of provision for her young ones, swooped down while the Fox was out, seized upon one of the little cubs, and feasted herself and her brood. The Fox on her return, discovered what had happened, but was less grieved for the death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near an altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly seized a piece of the flesh, and carried it, along with a burning cinder, to her nest. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and dropped down dead at the bottom of the tree. There, in the sight of the Eagle, the Fox gobbled them up.

The Man and the Satyr

A Man and a Satyr once drank together in token of a bond of alliance being formed between them. One very cold wintry day, as they talked, the Man put his fingers to his mouth and blew on them. When the Satyr asked the reason for this, he told him that he did it to warm his hands because they were so cold. Later on in the day they sat down to eat, and the food prepared was quite scalding. The Man raised one of the dishes a little towards his mouth and blew in it. When the Satyr again inquired the reason, he said that he did it to cool the meat, which was too hot. "I can no longer consider you as a friend," said the Satyr, "a fellow who with the same breath blows hot and cold."

The Ass and His Purchaser

A man wished to purchase an Ass, and agreed with its owner that he should try out the animal before he bought him. He took the Ass home and put him in the straw-yard with his other Asses, upon which the new animal left all the others and at once joined the one that was most idle and the greatest eater of them all. Seeing this, the man put a halter on him and led him back to his owner. On being asked how, in so short a time, he could have made a trial of him, he answered, "I do not need a trial; I know that he will be just the same as the one he chose for his companion."

A man is known by the company he keeps.

The Two Bags

Every man, according to an ancient legend, is born into the world with two bags suspended from his neck all bag in front full of his neighbors' faults, and a large bag behind filled with his own faults. Hence it is that men are quick to see the faults of others, and yet are often blind to their own failings.

The Stag At the Pool

A Stag overpowered by heat came to a spring to drink. Seeing his own shadow reflected in the water, he greatly admired the size and variety of his horns, but felt angry with himself for having such slender and weak feet. While he was thus contemplating himself, a Lion appeared at the pool and crouched to spring upon him. The Stag immediately took to flight, and exerting his utmost speed, as long as the plain was smooth and open kept himself easily at a safe distance from the Lion. But entering a wood he became entangled by his horns, and the Lion quickly came up to him and caught him. When too late, he thus reproached himself: "Woe is me! How I have deceived myself! These feet which would have saved me I despised, and I gloried in these antlers which have proved my destruction."

What is most truly valuable is often underrated.

The Jackdaw and the Fox

A half-famished Jackdaw seated himself on a fig-tree, which had produced some fruit entirely out of season, and waited in the hope that the figs would ripen. A Fox seeing him sitting so long and learning the reason of his doing so, said to him, "You are indeed, sir, sadly deceiving yourself; you are indulging a hope strong enough to cheat you, but which will never reward you with enjoyment."

The Lark Burying Her Father

The Lark (according to an ancient legend) was created before the earth itself, and when her father died, as there was no earth, she could find no place of burial for him. She let him lie uninterred for five days, and on the sixth day, not knowing what else to do, she buried him in her own head. Hence she obtained her crest, which is popularly said to be her father's grave-hillock.

Youth's first duty is reverence to parents.

The Gnat and the Bull

A Gnat settled on the horn of a Bull, and sat there a long time. Just as he was about to fly off, he made a buzzing noise, and inquired of the Bull if he would like him to go. The Bull replied, "I did not know you had come, and I shall not miss you when you go away."

Some men are of more consequence in their own eyes than in the eyes of their neighbors.

The Bitch and Her Whelps

A Bitch, ready to whelp, earnestly begged a shepherd for a place where she might litter. When her request was granted, she besought permission to rear her puppies in the same spot. The shepherd again consented. But at last the Bitch, protected by the bodyguard of her Whelps, who had now grown up and were able to defend themselves, asserted her exclusive right to the place and would not permit the shepherd to approach.

The Dogs and the Hides

Some Dogs famished with hunger saw a number of cowhides steeping in a river. Not being able to reach them, they agreed to drink up the river, but it happened that they burst themselves with drinking long before they reached the hides.

Attempt not impossibilities.

The Shepherd and the Sheep

A Shepherd driving his Sheep to a wood, saw an oak of unusual size full of acorns, and spreading his cloak under the branches, he climbed up into the tree and shook them down. The Sheep eating the acorns inadvertently frayed and tore the cloak. When the Shepherd came down and saw what was done, he said, "O you most ungrateful creatures! You provide wool to make garments for all other men, but you destroy the clothes of him who feeds you."

The Grasshopper and the Owl

An Owl, accustomed to feed at night and to sleep during the day, was greatly disturbed by the noise of a Grasshopper and earnestly besought her to stop chirping. The Grasshopper refused to desist, and chirped louder and louder the more the Owl entreated. When she saw that she could get no redress and that her words were despised, the Owl attacked the chatterer by a stratagem. "Since I cannot sleep," she said, "on account of your song which, believe me, is sweet as the lyre of Apollo, I shall indulge myself in drinking some nectar which Pallas lately gave me. If you do not dislike it, come to me and we will drink it together." The Grasshopper, who was thirsty, and pleased with the praise of her voice, eagerly flew up. The Owl came forth from her hollow, seized her, and put her to death.

The Monkey and the Camel

The beasts of the forest gave a splendid entertainment at which the Monkey stood up and danced. Having vastly delighted the assembly, he sat down amidst universal applause. The Camel, envious of the praises bestowed on the Monkey and desiring to divert to himself the favor of the guests, proposed to stand up in his turn and dance for their amusement. He moved about in so utterly ridiculous a manner that the Beasts, in a fit of indignation, set upon him with clubs and drove him out of the assembly.

It is absurd to ape our betters.

The Peasant and the Apple-Tree

A Peasant had in his garden an Apple-Tree which bore no fruit but only served as a harbor for the sparrows and grasshoppers. He resolved to cut it down, and taking his axe in his hand, made a bold stroke at its roots. The grasshoppers and sparrows entreated him not to cut down the tree that sheltered them, but to spare it, and they would sing to him and lighten his labors. He paid no attention to their request, but gave the tree a second and a third blow with his axe. When he reached the hollow of the tree, he found a hive full of honey. Having tasted the honeycomb, he threw down his axe, and looking on the tree as sacred, took great care of it.

Self-interest alone moves some men.

The Two Soldiers and the Robber

Two Soldiers traveling together were set upon by a Robber. The one fled away; the other stood his ground and defended himself with his stout right hand. The Robber being slain, the timid companion ran up and drew his sword, and then, throwing back his traveling cloak said, "I'll at him, and I'll take care he shall learn whom he has attacked." On this, he who had fought with the Robber made answer, "I only wish that you had helped me just now, even if it had been only with those words, for I should have been the more encouraged, believing them to be true; but now put up your sword in its sheath and hold your equally useless tongue, till you can deceive others who do not know you. I, indeed, who have experienced with what speed you run away, know right well that no dependence can be placed on your valor."

The Trees Under the Protection of the Gods

The Gods, according to an ancient legend, made choice of certain trees to be under their special protection. Jupiter chose the oak, Venus the myrtle, Apollo the laurel, Cybele the pine, and Hercules the poplar. Minerva, wondering why they had preferred trees not yielding fruit, inquired the reason for their choice. Jupiter replied, "It is lest we should seem to covet the honor for the fruit." But said Minerva, "Let anyone say what he will the olive is more dear to me on account of its fruit." Then said Jupiter, "My daughter, you are rightly called wise; for unless what we do is useful, the glory of it is vain."

The Mother and the Wolf

A famished Wolf was prowling about in the morning in search of food. As he passed the door of a cottage built in the forest, he heard a Mother say to her child, "Be quiet, or I will throw you out of the window, and the Wolf shall eat you." The Wolf sat all day waiting at the door. In the evening he heard the same woman fondling her child and saying: "You are quiet now, and if the Wolf should come, we will kill him." The Wolf, hearing these words, went home, gasping with cold and hunger. When he reached his den, Mistress Wolf inquired of him why he returned wearied and supperless, so contrary to his wont. He replied: "Why, forsooth! use I gave credence to the words of a woman!"

The Ass and the Horse

An Ass besought a Horse to spare him a small portion of his feed. "Yes," said the Horse; "if any remains out of what I am now eating I will give it you for the sake of my own superior dignity, and if you will come when I reach my own stall in the evening, I will give you a little sack full of barley." The Ass replied, "Thank you. But I can't think that you, who refuse me a little matter now. will by and by confer on me a greater benefit."

Truth and the Traveler

A wayfaring man, traveling in the desert, met a woman standing alone and terribly dejected. He inquired of her, "Who art thou?" "My name is Truth," she replied. "And for what cause," he asked, "have you left the city to dwell alone here in the wilderness?" She made answer, "Because in former times, falsehood was with few, but is now with all men."

The Manslayer

A man committed a murder, and was pursued by the relations of the man whom he murdered. On his reaching the river Nile he saw a Lion on its bank and being fearfully afraid, climbed up a tree. He found a serpent in the upper branches of the tree, and again being greatly alarmed, he threw himself into the river, where a crocodile caught him and ate him. Thus the earth, the air, and the water alike refused shelter to a murderer.

The Lion and the Fox

A Fox entered into partnership with a Lion on the pretense of becoming his servant. Each undertook his proper duty in accordance with his own nature and powers. The Fox discovered and pointed out the prey; the Lion sprang on it and seized it. The Fox soon became jealous of the Lion carrying off the Lion's share, and said that he would no longer find out the prey, but would capture it on his own account. The next day he attempted to snatch a lamb from the fold, but he himself fell prey to the huntsmen and hounds.

The Lion and the Eagle

An Eagle stayed his flight and entreated a Lion to make an alliance with him to their mutual advantage. The Lion replied, "I have no objection, but you must excuse me for requiring you to find surety for your good faith, for how can I trust anyone as a friend who is able to fly away from his bargain whenever he pleases?'

Try before you trust.

The Hen and the Swallow

A Hen finding the eggs of a viper and carefully keeping them warm, nourished them into life. A Swallow, observing what she had done, said, "You silly creature! why have you hatched these vipers which, when they shall have grown, will inflict injury on all, beginning with yourself?'

The Buffoon and the Countryman

A rich nobleman once opened the theaters without charge to the people, and gave a public notice that he would handsomely reward any person who invented a new amusement for the occasion. Various public performers contended for the prize. Among them came a Buffoon well known among the populace for his jokes, and said that he had a kind of entertainment which had never been brought out on any stage before. This report being spread about made a great stir, and the theater was crowded in every part. The Buffoon appeared alone upon the platform, without any apparatus or confederates, and the very sense of expectation caused an intense silence. He suddenly bent his head towards his bosom and imitated the squeaking of a little pig so admirably with his voice that the audience declared he had a porker under his cloak, and demanded that it should be shaken out. When that was done and nothing was found, they cheered the actor, and loaded him with the loudest applause. A Countryman in the crowd, observing all that has passed, said, "So help me, Hercules, he shall not beat me at that trick!" and at once proclaimed that he would do the same thing on the next day, though in a much more natural way. On the morrow a still larger crowd assembled in the theater, but now partiality for their favorite actor very generally prevailed, and the audience came rather to ridicule the Countryman than to see the spectacle. Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted and squeaked away first, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the applause and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman commenced, and pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his clothes (which in truth he did, but not suspected by the audience ) contrived to take hold of and to pull his ear causing the pig to squeak. The Crowd, however, cried out with one consent that the Buffoon had given a far more exact imitation, and clamored for the Countryman to be kicked out of the theater. On this the rustic produced the little pig from his cloak and showed by the most positive proof the greatness of their mistake. "Look here," he said, "this shows what sort of judges you are."

The Crow and the Serpent

A Crow in great want of food saw a Serpent asleep in a sunny nook, and flying down, greedily seized him. The Serpent, turning about, bit the Crow with a mortal wound. In the agony of death, the bird exclaimed: "O unhappy me! who have found in that which I deemed a happy windfall the source of my destruction."

The Hunter and the Horseman

A certain Hunter, having snared a hare, placed it upon his shoulders and set out homewards. On his way he met a man on horseback who begged the hare of him, under the pretense of purchasing it. However, when the Horseman got the hare, he rode off as fast as he could. The Hunter ran after him, as if he was sure of overtaking him, but the Horseman increased more and more the distance between them. The Hunter, sorely against his will, called out to him and said, "Get along with you! for I will now make you a present of the hare."

The King's Son and the Painted Lion

A King, whose only son was fond of martial exercises, had a dream in which he was warned that his son would be killed by a lion. Afraid the dream should prove true, he built for his son a pleasant palace and adorned its walls for his amusement with all kinds of life-sized animals, among which was the picture of a lion. When the young Prince saw this, his grief at being thus confined burst out afresh, and, standing near the lion, he said: "O you most detestable of animals! through a lying dream of my father's, which he saw in his sleep, I am shut up on your account in this palace as if I had been a girl: what shall I now do to you?' With these words he stretched out his hands toward a thorn-tree, meaning to cut a stick from its branches so that he might beat the lion. But one of the tree's prickles pierced his finger and caused great pain and inflammation, so that the young Prince fell down in a fainting fit. A violent fever suddenly set in, from which he died not many days later.

We had better bear our troubles bravely than try to escape them.

The Cat and Venus

A Cat fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.

Nature exceeds nurture.

The She-Goats and Their Beards

The She-Goats having obtained a beard by request to Jupiter, the He-Goats were sorely displeased and made complaint that the females equaled them in dignity. "Allow them," said Jupiter, "to enjoy an empty honor and to assume the badge of your nobler sex, so long as they are not your equals in strength or courage."

It matters little if those who are inferior to us in merit should be like us in outside appearances.

The Camel and the Arab

An Arab camel-driver, after completing the loading of his Camel, asked him which he would like best, to go up hill or down. The poor beast replied, not without a touch of reason: "Why do you ask me? Is it that the level way through the desert is closed?"

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass

A Miller and his son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of women collected round a well, talking and laughing. "Look there," cried one of them, "did you ever see such fellows, to be trudging along the road on foot when they might ride?' The old man hearing this, quickly made his son mount the Ass, and continued to walk along merrily by his side. Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There," said one of them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle lad riding while his old father has to walk? Get down, you young scapegrace, and let the old man rest his weary limbs." Upon this the old man made his son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children: "Why, you lazy old fellow," cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace by the side of you?' The good-natured Miller immediately took up his son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a citizen, "is that Ass your own?' "Yes," replied the old man. "O, one would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you." "Anything to please you," said the old man; "we can but try." So, alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the Ass together and with the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge near the entrance to the town. This entertaining sight brought the people in crowds to laugh at it, till the Ass, not liking the noise nor the strange handling that he was subject to, broke the cords that bound him and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river. Upon this, the old man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced that by endeavoring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass in the bargain.

The Crow and the Sheep

A troublesome Crow seated herself on the back of a Sheep. The Sheep, much against his will, carried her backward and forward for a long time, and at last said, "If you had treated a dog in this way, you would have had your deserts from his sharp teeth." To this the Crow replied, "I despise the weak and yield to the strong. I know whom I may bully and whom I must flatter; and I thus prolong my life to a good old age."

The Fox and the Bramble

A Fox was mounting a hedge when he lost his footing and caught hold of a Bramble to save himself. Having pricked and grievously tom the soles of his feet, he accused the Bramble because, when he had fled to her for assistance, she had used him worse than the hedge itself. The Bramble, interrupting him, said, "But you really must have been out of your senses to fasten yourself on me, who am myself always accustomed to fasten upon others."

The Wolf and the Lion

A Wolf, having stolen a lamb from a fold, was carrying him off to his lair. A Lion met him in the path, and seizing the lamb, took it from him. Standing at a safe distance, the Wolf exclaimed, "You have unrighteously taken that which was mine from me!" To which the Lion jeeringly replied, "It was righteously yours, eh? The gift of a friend?'

The Dog and the Oyster

A Dog, used to eating eggs, saw an Oyster and, opening his mouth to its widest extent, swallowed it down with the utmost relish, supposing it to be an egg. Soon afterwards suffering great pain in his stomach, he said, "I deserve all this torment, for my folly in thinking that everything round must be an egg."

They who act without sufficient thought, will often fall into unsuspected danger.

The Ant and the Dove

An Ant went to the bank of a river to quench its thirst, and being carried away by the rush of the stream, was on the point of drowning. A Dove sitting on a tree overhanging the water plucked a leaf and let it fall into the stream close to her. The Ant climbed onto it and floated in safety to the bank. Shortly afterwards a birdcatcher came and stood under the tree, and laid his lime-twigs for the Dove, which sat in the branches. The Ant, perceiving his design, stung him in the foot. In pain the birdcatcher threw down the twigs, and the noise made the Dove take wing.

The Partridge and the Fowler

A Fowler caught a Partridge and was about to kill it. The Partridge earnestly begged him to spare his life, saying, "Pray, master, permit me to live and I will entice many Partridges to you in recompense for your mercy to me." The Fowler replied, "I shall now with less scruple take your life, because you are willing to save it at the cost of betraying your friends and relations."

The Flea and the Man

A Man, very much annoyed with a Flea, caught him at last, and said, "Who are you who dare to feed on my limbs, and to cost me so much trouble in catching you?' The Flea replied, "O my dear sir, pray spare my life, and destroy me not, for I cannot possibly do you much harm." The Man, laughing, replied, "Now you shall certainly die by mine own hands, for no evil, whether it be small or large, ought to be tolerated."

The Thieves and the Cock

Some Thieves broke into a house and found nothing but a Cock, whom they stole, and got off as fast as they could. Upon arriving at home they prepared to kill the Cock, who thus pleaded for his life: "Pray spare me; I am very serviceable to men. I wake them up in the night to their work." "That is the very reason why we must the more kill you," they replied; "for when you wake your neighbors, you entirely put an end to our business."

The safeguards of virtue are hateful to those with evil intentions.

The Dog and the Cook

A rich man gave a great feast, to which he invited many friends and acquaintances. His Dog availed himself of the occasion to invite a stranger Dog, a friend of his, saying, "My master gives a feast, and there is always much food remaining; come and sup with me tonight." The Dog thus invited went at the hour appointed, and seeing the preparations for so grand an entertainment, said in the joy of his heart, "How glad I am that I came! I do not often get such a chance as this. I will take care and eat enough to last me both today and tomorrow." While he was congratulating himself and wagging his tail to convey his pleasure to his friend, the Cook saw him moving about among his dishes and, seizing him by his fore and hind paws, bundled him without ceremony out of the window. He fell with force upon the ground and limped away, howling dreadfully. His yelling soon attracted other street dogs, who came up to him and inquired how he had enjoyed his supper. He replied, "Why, to tell you the truth, I drank so much wine that I remember nothing. I do not know how I got out of the house."

The Travelers and the Plane-Tree

Two Travelers, worn out by the heat of the summer's sun, laid themselves down at noon under the widespreading branches of a Plane-Tree. As they rested under its shade, one of the Travelers said to the other, "What a singularly useless tree is the Plane! It bears no fruit, and is not of the least service to man." The Plane-Tree, interrupting him, said, "You ungrateful fellows! Do you, while receiving benefits from me and resting under my shade, dare to describe me as useless, and unprofitable?'

Some men underrate their best blessings.

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares, oppressed by their own exceeding timidity and weary of the perpetual alarm to which they were exposed, with one accord determined to put an end to themselves and their troubles by jumping from a lofty precipice into a deep lake below. As they scampered off in large numbers to carry out their resolve, the Frogs lying on the banks of the lake heard the noise of their feet and rushed helter-skelter to the deep water for safety. On seeing the rapid disappearance of the Frogs, one of the Hares cried out to his companions: "Stay, my friends, do not do as you intended; for you now see that there are creatures who are still more timid than ourselves."

The Lion, Jupiter, and the Elephant

The Lion wearied Jupiter with his frequent complaints. "It is true, O Jupiter!" he said, "that I am gigantic in strength, handsome in shape, and powerful in attack. I have jaws well provided with teeth, and feet furnished with claws, and I lord it over all the beasts of the forest, and what a disgrace it is, that being such as I am, I should be frightened by the crowing of a cock." Jupiter replied, "Why do you blame me without a cause? I have given you all the attributes which I possess myself, and your courage never fails you except in this one instance." On hearing this the Lion groaned and lamented very much and, reproaching himself with his cowardice, wished that he might die. As these thoughts passed through his mind, he met an Elephant and came close to hold a conversation with him. After a time he observed that the Elephant shook his ears very often, and he inquired what was the matter and why his ears moved with such a tremor every now and then. Just at that moment a Gnat settled on the head of the Elephant, and he replied, "Do you see that little buzzing insect? If it enters my ear, my fate is sealed. I should die presently." The Lion said, "Well, since so huge a beast is afraid of a tiny gnat, I will no more complain, nor wish myself dead. I find myself, even as I am, better off than the Elephant."

The Lamb and the Wolf

A Wolf pursued a Lamb, which fled for refuge to a certain Temple. The Wolf called out to him and said, "The Priest will slay you in sacrifice, if he should catch you." On which the Lamb replied, "It would be better for me to be sacrificed in the Temple than to be eaten by you."

The Rich Man and the Tanner

A rich man lived near a Tanner, and not being able to bear the unpleasant smell of the tan-yard, he pressed his neighbor to go away. The Tanner put off his departure from time to time, saying that he would leave soon. But as he still continued to stay, as time went on, the rich man became accustomed to the smell, and feeling no manner of inconvenience, made no further complaints.

The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea

A shipwrecked man, having been cast upon a certain shore, slept after his buffetings with the deep. After a while he awoke, and looking upon the Sea, loaded it with reproaches. He argued that it enticed men with the calmness of its looks, but when it had induced them to plow its waters, it grew rough and destroyed them. The Sea, assuming the form of a woman, replied to him: "Blame not me, my good sir, but the winds, for I am by my own nature as calm and firm even as this earth; but the winds suddenly falling on me create these waves, and lash me into fury."

The Mules and the Robbers

Two Mules well-laden with packs were trudging along. One carried panniers filled with money, the other sacks weighted with grain. The Mule carrying the treasure walked with head erect, as if conscious of the value of his burden, and tossed up and down the clear-toned bells fastened to his neck. His companion followed with quiet and easy step. All of a sudden Robbers rushed upon them from their hiding-places, and in the scuffle with their owners, wounded with a sword the Mule carrying the treasure, which they greedily seized while taking no notice of the grain. The Mule which had been robbed and wounded bewailed his misfortunes. The other replied, "I am indeed glad that I was thought so little of, for I have lost nothing, nor am I hurt with any wound."

The Viper and the File

A Lion, entering the workshop of a smith, sought from the tools the means of satisfying his hunger. He more particularly addressed himself to a File, and asked of him the favor of a meal. The File replied, "You must indeed be a simple-minded fellow if you expect to get anything from me, who am accustomed to take from everyone, and never to give anything in return."

The Lion and the Shepherd

A Lion, roaming through a forest, trod upon a thorn. Soon afterward he came up to a Shepherd and fawned upon him, wagging his tail as if to say, "I am a suppliant, and seek your aid." The Shepherd boldly examined the beast, discovered the thorn, and placing his paw upon his lap, pulled it out; thus relieved of his pain, the Lion returned into the forest. Some time after, the Shepherd, being imprisoned on a false accusation, was condemned "to be cast to the Lions" as the punishment for his imputed crime. But when the Lion was released from his cage, he recognized the Shepherd as the man who healed him, and instead of attacking him, approached and placed his foot upon his lap. The King, as soon as he heard the tale, ordered the Lion to be set free again in the forest, and the Shepherd to be pardoned and restored to his friends.

The Camel and Jupiter

The Camel, when he saw the Bull adorned with horns, envied him and wished that he himself could obtain the same honors. He went to Jupiter, and besought him to give him horns. Jupiter, vexed at his request because he was not satisfied with his size and strength of body, and desired yet more, not only refused to give him horns, but even deprived him of a portion of his ears.

The Panther and the Shepherds

A Panther, by some mischance, fell into a pit. The Shepherds discovered him, and some threw sticks at him and pelted him with stones, while others, moved with compassion towards one about to die even though no one should hurt him, threw in some food to prolong his life. At night they returned home, not dreaming of any danger, but supposing that on the morrow they would find him dead. The Panther, however, when he had recruited his feeble strength, freed himself with a sudden bound from the pit, and hastened to his den with rapid steps. After a few days he came forth and slaughtered the cattle, and, killing the Shepherds who had attacked him, raged with angry fury. Then they who had spared his life, fearing for their safety, surrendered to him their flocks and begged only for their lives. To them the Panther made this reply: "I remember alike those who sought my life with stones, and those who gave me food aside, therefore, your fears. I return as an enemy only to those who injured me."

The Ass and the Charger

An Ass congratulated a Horse on being so ungrudgingly and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat and not even that without hard work. But when war broke out, a heavily armed soldier mounted the Horse, and riding him to the charge, rushed into the very midst of the enemy. The Horse was wounded and fell dead on the battlefield. Then the Ass, seeing all these things, changed his mind, and commiserated the Horse.

The Eagle and His Captor

An Eagle was once captured by a man, who immediately clipped his wings and put him into his poultry-yard with the other birds, at which treatment the Eagle was weighed down with grief. Later, another neighbor purchased him and allowed his feathers to grow again. The Eagle took flight, and pouncing upon a hare, brought it at once as an offering to his benefactor. A Fox, seeing this, exclaimed, "Do not cultivate the favor of this man, but of your former owner, lest he should again hunt for you and deprive you a second time of your wings."

The Bald Man and the Fly

A Fly bit the bare head of a Bald Man who, endeavoring to destroy it, gave himself a heavy slap. Escaping, the Fly said mockingly, "You who have wished to revenge, even with death, the Prick of a tiny insect, see what you have done to yourself to add insult to injury?' The Bald Man replied, "I can easily make peace with myself, because I know there was no intention to hurt. But you, an ill-favored and contemptible insect who delights in sucking human blood, I wish that I could have killed you even if I had incurred a heavier penalty."

The Olive-Tree and the Fig-Tree

The Olive-Tree ridiculed the Fig-Tree because, while she was green all the year round, the Fig-Tree changed its leaves with the seasons. A shower of snow fell upon them, and, finding the Olive full of foliage, it settled upon its branches and broke them down with its weight, at once despoiling it of its beauty and killing the tree. But finding the Fig-Tree denuded of leaves, the snow fell through to the ground, and did not injure it at all.

The Eagle and the Kite

An Eagle, overwhelmed with sorrow, sat upon the branches of a tree in company with a Kite. "Why," said the Kite, "do I see you with such a rueful look?' "I seek," she replied, "a mate suitable for me, and am not able to find one." "Take me," returned the Kite, "I am much stronger than you are." "Why, are you able to secure the means of living by your plunder?' "Well, I have often caught and carried away an ostrich in my talons." The Eagle, persuaded by these words, accepted him as her mate. Shortly after the nuptials, the Eagle said, "Fly off and bring me back the ostrich you promised me." The Kite, soaring aloft into the air, brought back the shabbiest possible mouse, stinking from the length of time it had lain about the fields. "Is this," said the Eagle, "the faithful fulfillment of your promise to me?' The Kite replied, "That I might attain your royal hand, there is nothing that I would not have promised, however much I knew that I must fail in the performance."

The Ass and His Driver

An Ass, being driven along a high road, suddenly started off and bolted to the brink of a deep precipice. While he was in the act of throwing himself over, his owner seized him by the tail, endeavoring to pull him back. When the Ass persisted in his effort, the man let him go and said, "Conquer, but conquer to your cost."

The Thrush and the Fowler

A Thrush was feeding on a myrtle-tree and did not move from it because its berries were so delicious. A Fowler observed her staying so long in one spot, and having well bird-limed his reeds, caught her. The Thrush, being at the point of death, exclaimed, "O foolish creature that I am! For the sake of a little pleasant food I have deprived myself of my life."

The Rose and the Amaranth

An Amaranth planted in a garden near a Rose-Tree, thus addressed it: "What a lovely flower is the Rose, a favorite alike with Gods and with men. I envy you your beauty and your perfume." The Rose replied, "I indeed, dear Amaranth, flourish but for a brief season! If no cruel hand pluck me from my stem, yet I must perish by an early doom. But thou art immortal and dost never fade, but bloomest for ever in renewed youth."

The Frogs' Complaint Against the Sun

Once upon a time, when the Sun announced his intention to take a wife, the Frogs lifted up their voices in clamor to the sky. Jupiter, disturbed by the noise of their croaking, inquired the cause of their complaint. One of them said, "The Sun, now while he is single, parches up the marsh, and compels us to die miserably in our arid homes. What will be our future condition if he should beget other suns?"


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