Part 1 out of 3
Aesop's Fables Translated by George Fyler Townsend
The Wolf and the Lamb
WOLF, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to
lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the
Lamb the Wolf's right to eat him. He thus addressed him:
"Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me." "Indeed," bleated
the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born." Then
said the Wolf, "You feed in my pasture." "No, good sir," replied
the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass." Again said the Wolf,
"You drink of my well." "No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet
drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink
to me." Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying,
"Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every
one of my imputations." The tyrant will always find a pretext for
The Bat and the Weasels
A BAT who fell upon the ground and was caught by a Weasel pleaded
to be spared his life. The Weasel refused, saying that he was by
nature the enemy of all birds. The Bat assured him that he was
not a bird, but a mouse, and thus was set free. Shortly
afterwards the Bat again fell to the ground and was caught by
another Weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him. The
Weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice. The Bat
assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat, and thus a second
It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.
The Ass and the Grasshopper
AN ASS having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly
enchanted; and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody,
demanded what sort of food they lived on to give them such
beautiful voices. They replied, "The dew." The Ass resolved that
he would live only upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.
The Lion and the Mouse
A LION was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face.
Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when
the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare
my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness." The Lion
laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the
Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by st ropes to the
ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope
with his teeth, and set him free, exclaim
"You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you,
expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favor; I now
you know that it is possible for even a Mouse to con benefits on
The Charcoal-Burner and the Fuller
A CHARCOAL-BURNER carried on his trade in his own house. One day
he met a friend, a Fuller, and entreated him to come and live
with him, saying that they should be far better neighbors and
that their housekeeping expenses would be lessened. The Fuller
replied, "The arrangement is impossible as far as I am concerned,
for whatever I should whiten, you would immediately blacken again
with your charcoal."
Like will draw like.
The Father and His Sons
A FATHER had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling
among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his
exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration
of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told
them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he
placed the faggot into the hands of each of them in succession,
and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all
their strength, and were not able to do it. He next opened the
faggot, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put
them into his sons' hands, upon which they broke them easily. He
then addressed them in these words: "My sons, if you are of one
mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this faggot,
uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are
divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these
The Boy Hunting Locusts
A BOY was hunting for locusts. He had caught a goodly number,
when he saw a Scorpion, and mistaking him for a locust, reached
out his hand to take him. The Scorpion, showing his sting, said:
If you had but touched me, my friend, you would have lost me, and
all your locusts too!"
The Cock and the Jewel
A COCK, scratching for food for himself and his hens, found a
precious stone and exclaimed: "If your owner had found thee, and
not I, he would have taken thee up, and have set thee in thy
first estate; but I have found thee for no purpose. I would
rather have one barleycorn than all the jewels in the world."
The Kingdom of the Lion
THE BEASTS of the field and forest had a Lion as their king. He
was neither wrathful, cruel, nor tyrannical, but just and gentle
as a king could be. During his reign he made a royal
proclamation for a general assembly of all the birds and beasts,
and drew up conditions for a universal league, in which the Wolf
and the Lamb, the Panther and the Kid, the Tiger and the Stag,
the Dog and the Hare, should live together in perfect peace and
amity. The Hare said, "Oh, how I have longed to see this day, in
which the weak shall take their place with impunity by the side
of the strong." And after the Hare said this, he ran for his
The Wolf and the Crane
A WOLF who had a bone stuck in his throat hired a Crane, for a
large sum, to put her head into his mouth and draw out the bone.
When the Crane had extracted the bone and demanded the promised
payment, the Wolf, grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed:
"Why, you have surely already had a sufficient recompense, in
having been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the
mouth and jaws of a wolf."
In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you
escape injury for your pains.
The Fisherman Piping
A FISHERMAN skilled in music took his flute and his nets to the
seashore. Standing on a projecting rock, he played several tunes
in the hope that the fish, attracted by his melody, would of
their own accord dance into his net, which he had placed below.
At last, having long waited in vain, he laid aside his flute, and
casting his net into the sea, made an excellent haul of fish.
When he saw them leaping about in the net upon the rock he said:
"O you most perverse creatures, when I piped you would not dance,
but now that I have ceased you do so merrily."
Hercules and the Wagoner
A CARTER was driving a wagon along a country lane, when the
wheels sank down deep into a rut. The rustic driver, stupefied
and aghast, stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter
loud cries to Hercules to come and help him. Hercules, it is
said, appeared and thus addressed him: "Put your shoulders to the
wheels, my man. Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to me
for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or
depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain."
Self-help is the best help.
The Ants and the Grasshopper
THE ANTS were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected
in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed
by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of
him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?' He
replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in
singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough
to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the
The Traveler and His Dog
A TRAVELER about to set out on a journey saw his Dog stand at the
door stretching himself. He asked him sharply: "Why do you stand
there gaping? Everything is ready but you, so come with me
instantly." The Dog, wagging his tail, replied: "O, master! I am
quite ready; it is you for whom I am waiting."
The loiterer often blames delay on his more active friend.
The Dog and the Shadow
A DOG, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in
his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that
of another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He
immediately let go of his own, and fiercely attacked the other
Dog to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both: that
which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and
his own, because the stream swept it away.
The Mole and His Mother
A MOLE, a creature blind from birth, once said to his Mother: "I
am sure than I can see, Mother!" In the desire to prove to him
his mistake, his Mother placed before him a few grains of
frankincense, and asked, "What is it?' The young Mole said, "It
is a pebble." His Mother exclaimed: "My son, I am afraid that you
are not only blind, but that you have lost your sense of smell.
The Herdsman and the Lost Bull
A HERDSMAN tending his flock in a forest lost a Bull-calf from
the fold. After a long and fruitless search, he made a vow that,
if he could only discover the thief who had stolen the Calf, he
would offer a lamb in sacrifice to Hermes, Pan, and the Guardian
Deities of the forest. Not long afterwards, as he ascended a
small hillock, he saw at its foot a Lion feeding on the Calf.
Terrified at the sight, he lifted his eyes and his hands to
heaven, and said: "Just now I vowed to offer a lamb to the
Guardian Deities of the forest if I could only find out who had
robbed me; but now that I have discovered the thief, I would
willingly add a full-grown Bull to the Calf I have lost, if I may
only secure my own escape from him in safety."
The Hare and the Tortoise
A HARE one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the
Tortoise, who replied, laughing: "Though you be swift as the
wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, believing her
assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and
they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the
goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started
together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on
with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course.
The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last
waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise
had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her
Slow but steady wins the race.
The Pomegranate, Apple-Tree, and Bramble
THE POMEGRANATE and Apple-Tree disputed as to which was the most
beautiful. When their strife was at its height, a Bramble from
the neighboring hedge lifted up its voice, and said in a boastful
tone: "Pray, my dear friends, in my presence at least cease from
such vain disputings."
The Farmer and the Stork
A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a
number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he
trapped a Stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was
earnestly beseeching the Farmer to spare his life. "Pray save
me, Master," he said, "and let me go free this once. My broken
limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a
Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and
slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers--
they are not the least like those of a Crane." The Farmer
laughed aloud and said, "It may be all as you say, I only know
this: I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you
must die in their company."
Birds of a feather flock together.
The Farmer and the Snake
ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold. He
had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom.
The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its
natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal
wound. "Oh," cried the Farmer with his last breath, "I am
rightly served for pitying a scoundrel."
The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.
The Fawn and His Mother
A YOUNG FAWN once said to his Mother, "You are larger than a dog,
and swifter, and more used to running, and you have your horns as
a defense; why, then, O Mother! do the hounds frighten you so?"
She smiled, and said: "I know full well, my son, that all you say
is true. I have the advantages you mention, but when I hear even
the bark of a single dog I feel ready to faint, and fly away as
fast as I can."
No arguments will give courage to the coward.
The Bear and the Fox
A BEAR boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that of all
animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had
such respect for him that he would not even touch his dead body.
A Fox hearing these words said with a smile to the Bear, "Oh!
that you would eat the dead and not the living."
The Swallow and the Crow
THE SWALLOW and the Crow had a contention about their plumage.
The Crow put an end to the dispute by saying, "Your feathers are
all very well in the spring, but mine protect me against the
Fair weather friends are not worth much.
The Mountain in Labor
A MOUNTAIN was once greatly agitated. Loud groans and noises
were heard, and crowds of people came from all parts to see what
was the matter. While they were assembled in anxious expectation
of some terrible calamity, out came a Mouse.
Don't make much ado about nothing.
The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion
THE ASS and the Fox, having entered into partnership together for
their mutual protection, went out into the forest to hunt. They
had not proceeded far when they met a Lion. The Fox, seeing
imminent danger, approached the Lion and promised to contrive for
him the capture of the Ass if the Lion would pledge his word not
to harm the Fox. Then, upon assuring the Ass that he would not
be injured, the Fox led him to a deep pit and arranged that he
should fall into it. The Lion, seeing that the Ass was secured,
immediately clutched the Fox, and attacked the Ass at his
The Tortoise and the Eagle
A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the
sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly.
An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what
reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float
her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of
the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and
taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds
suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing
her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of
death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do
with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the
If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.
The Flies and the Honey-Pot
A NUMBER of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been
overturned in a housekeeper's room, and placing their feet in it,
ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the
honey that they could not use their wings, nor release
themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring,
they exclaimed, "O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of
a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves."
Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.
The Man and the Lion
A MAN and a Lion traveled together through the forest. They soon
began to boast of their respective superiority to each other in
strength and prowess. As they were disputing, they passed a
statue carved in stone, which represented "a Lion strangled by a
Man." The traveler pointed to it and said: "See there! How strong
we are, and how we prevail over even the king of beasts." The
Lion replied: "This statue was made by one of you men. If we
Lions knew how to erect statues, you would see the Man placed
under the paw of the Lion."
One story is good, till another is told.
The Farmer and the Cranes
SOME CRANES made their feeding grounds on some plowlands newly
sown with wheat. For a long time the Farmer, brandishing an
empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when
the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they
ceased to take any notice of it and would not move. The Farmer,
on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great
number. The remaining birds at once forsook his fields, crying
to each other, "It is time for us to be off to Liliput: for this
man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show us in
earnest what he can do."
If words suffice not, blows must follow.
The Dog in the Manger
A DOG lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping prevented
the oxen from eating the hay which had been placed for them.
"What a selfish Dog!" said one of them to his companions; "he
cannot eat the hay himself, and yet refuses to allow those to eat
The Fox and the Goat
A FOX one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of
escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and
seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his
sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish
praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and
encouraging him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his
thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox
informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a
scheme for their common escape. "If," said he, "you will place
your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up
your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards." The Goat
readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying
himself with the Goat's horns, he safely reached the mouth of the
well and made off as fast as he could. When the Goat upbraided
him for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out,
"You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head
as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down
before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to
dangers from which you had no means of escape."
Look before you leap.
The Bear and the Two Travelers
TWO MEN were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on
their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and
concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he
must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came
up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held
his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he
could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch
a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other Traveler
descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend
what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear. "He gave me this
advice," his companion replied. "Never travel with a friend who
deserts you at the approach of danger."
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.
The Oxen and the Axle-Trees
A HEAVY WAGON was being dragged along a country lane by a team of
Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; whereupon the
Oxen, turning round, thus addressed the wheels: "Hullo there! why
do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not
you, ought to cry out."
Those who suffer most cry out the least.
The Thirsty Pigeon
A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water
painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture,
she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed
against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken
her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by
one of the bystanders.
Zeal should not outrun discretion.
The Raven and the Swan
A RAVEN saw a Swan and desired to secure for himself the same
beautiful plumage. Supposing that the Swan's splendid white
color arose from his washing in the water in which he swam, the
Raven left the altars in the neighborhood where he picked up his
living, and took up residence in the lakes and pools. But
cleansing his feathers as often as he would, he could not change
their color, while through want of food he perished.
Change of habit cannot alter Nature.
The Goat and the Goatherd
A GOATHERD had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock.
He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no
attention to the summons. At last the Goatherd threw a stone,
and breaking its horn, begged the Goat not to tell his master.
The Goat replied, "Why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak
though I be silent."
Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.
A MISER sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he
buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and
went to look at daily. One of his workmen observed his frequent
visits to the spot and decided to watch his movements. He soon
discovered the secret of the hidden treasure, and digging down,
came to the lump of gold, and stole it. The Miser, on his next
visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his hair and to
make loud lamentations. A neighbor, seeing him overcome with
grief and learning the cause, said, "Pray do not grieve so; but
go and take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the
gold is still lying there. It will do you quite the same
service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did
not make the slightest use of it."
The Sick Lion
A LION, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself
with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned
to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking
care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts
expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the
Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus
disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself
to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful
distance, and asked him how he was. "I am very middling,"
replied the Lion, "but why do you stand without? Pray enter
within to talk with me." "No, thank you," said the Fox. "I
notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but
I see no trace of any returning."
He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.
The Horse and Groom
A GROOM used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down
his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for
his own profit. "Alas!" said the Horse, "if you really wish me
to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me
The Ass and the Lapdog
A MAN had an Ass, and a Maltese Lapdog, a very great beauty. The
Ass was left in a stable and had plenty of oats and hay to eat,
just as any other Ass would. The Lapdog knew many tricks and was
a great favorite with his master, who often fondled him and
seldom went out to dine without bringing him home some tidbit to
eat. The Ass, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding
the corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens
from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate and
contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the Lapdog, till at
last one day he broke his cords and halter, and galloped into his
master's house, kicking up his heels without measure, and
frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried to jump
about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, but he broke the
table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then
attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The
servants, hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of
their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his
stable with kicks and clubs and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned
to his stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: "I have
brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been contented to
labor with my companions, and not wish to be idle all the day
like that useless little Lapdog!"
A CONTROVERSY prevailed among the beasts of the field as to which
of the animals deserved the most credit for producing the
greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously
into the presence of the Lioness and demanded of her the
settlement of the dispute. "And you," they said, "how many sons
have you at a birth?' The Lioness laughed at them, and said:
"Why! I have only one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred
The value is in the worth, not in the number.
The Boasting Traveler
A MAN who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, on
returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic
feats he had performed in the different places he had visited.
Among other things, he said that when he was at Rhodes he had
leaped to such a distance that no man of his day could leap
anywhere near him as to that, there were in Rhodes many persons
who saw him do it and whom he could call as witnesses. One of
the bystanders interrupted him, saying: "Now, my good man, if
this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this
to be Rhodes, and leap for us."
The Cat and the Cock
A CAT caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable
excuse for eating him. He accused him of being a nuisance to men
by crowing in the nighttime and not permitting them to sleep.
The Cock defended himself by saying that he did this for the
benefit of men, that they might rise in time for their labors.
The Cat replied, "Although you abound in specious apologies, I
shall not remain supperless"; and he made a meal of him.
The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat
A YOUNG PIG was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and a Sheep.
On one occasion when the shepherd laid hold of him, he grunted
and squeaked and resisted violently. The Sheep and the Goat
complained of his distressing cries, saying, "He often handles
us, and we do not cry out." To this the Pig replied, "Your
handling and mine are very different things. He catches you only
for your wool, or your milk, but he lays hold on me for my very
The Boy and the Filberts
A BOY put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped
as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out
his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the
pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable to
withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his
disappointment. A bystander said to him, "Be satisfied with half
the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand."
Do not attempt too much at once.
The Lion in Love
A LION demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in marriage. The
Father, unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to refuse his request,
hit upon this expedient to rid himself of his importunities. He
expressed his willingness to accept the Lion as the suitor of his
daughter on one condition: that he should allow him to extract
his teeth, and cut off his claws, as his daughter was fearfully
afraid of both. The Lion cheerfully assented to the proposal.
But when the toothless, clawless Lion returned to repeat his
request, the Woodman, no longer afraid, set upon him with his
club, and drove him away into the forest.
The Laborer and the Snake
A SNAKE, having made his hole close to the porch of a cottage,
inflicted a mortal bite on the Cottager's infant son. Grieving
over his loss, the Father resolved to kill the Snake. The next
day, when it came out of its hole for food, he took up his axe,
but by swinging too hastily, missed its head and cut off only the
end of its tail. After some time the Cottager, afraid that the
Snake would bite him also, endeavored to make peace, and placed
some bread and salt in the hole. The Snake, slightly hissing,
said: "There can henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever
I see you I shall remember the loss of my tail, and whenever you
see me you will be thinking of the death of your son."
No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him who caused
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
ONCE UPON A TIME a Wolf resolved to disguise his appearance in
order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a
sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the shepherd by his
costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the
fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly
secure. But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night
to obtain meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the Wolf
instead of a sheep, and killed him instantly.
Harm seek. harm find.
The Ass and the Mule
A MULETEER set forth on a journey, driving before him an Ass and
a Mule, both well laden. The Ass, as long as he traveled along
the plain, carried his load with ease, but when he began to
ascend the steep path of the mountain, felt his load to be more
than he could bear. He entreated his companion to relieve him of
a small portion, that he might carry home the rest; but the Mule
paid no attention to the request. The Ass shortly afterwards
fell down dead under his burden. Not knowing what else to do in
so wild a region, the Muleteer placed upon the Mule the load
carried by the Ass in addition to his own, and at the top of all
placed the hide of the Ass, after he had skinned him. The Mule,
groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself: "I am treated
according to my deserts. If I had only been willing to assist
the Ass a little in his need, I should not now be bearing,
together with his burden, himself as well."
The Frogs Asking for a King
THE FROGS, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent
ambassadors to Jupiter entreating for a King. Perceiving their
simplicity, he cast down a huge log into the lake. The Frogs
were terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall and hid
themselves in the depths of the pool. But as soon as they
realized that the huge log was motionless, they swam again to the
top of the water, dismissed their fears, climbed up, and began
squatting on it in contempt. After some time they began to think
themselves ill-treated in the appointment of so inert a Ruler,
and sent a second deputation to Jupiter to pray that he would set
over them another sovereign. He then gave them an Eel to govern
them. When the Frogs discovered his easy good nature, they sent
yet a third time to Jupiter to beg him to choose for them still
another King. Jupiter, displeased with all their complaints,
sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day till there
were none left to croak upon the lake.
The Boys and the Frogs
SOME BOYS, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs in the
water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of
them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his head out of the water,
cried out: "Pray stop, my boys: what is sport to you, is death to
The Sick Stag
A SICK STAG lay down in a quiet corner of its pasture-ground.
His companions came in great numbers to inquire after his health,
and each one helped himself to a share of the food which had been
placed for his use; so that he died, not from his sickness, but
from the failure of the means of living.
Evil companions bring more hurt than profit.
The Salt Merchant and His Ass
A PEDDLER drove his Ass to the seashore to buy salt. His road
home lay across a stream into which his Ass, making a false step,
fell by accident and rose up again with his load considerably
lighter, as the water melted the sack. The Peddler retraced his
steps and refilled his panniers with a larger quantity of salt
than before. When he came again to the stream, the Ass fell down
on purpose in the same spot, and, regaining his feet with the
weight of his load much diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he
had obtained what he desired. The Peddler saw through his trick
and drove him for the third time to the coast, where he bought a
cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again playing the
fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream, but the
sponges became swollen with water, greatly increasing his load.
And thus his trick recoiled on him, for he now carried on his
back a double burden.
The Oxen and the Butchers
THE OXEN once upon a time sought to destroy the Butchers, who
practiced a trade destructive to their race. They assembled on a
certain day to carry out their purpose, and sharpened their horns
for the contest. But one of them who was exceedingly old (for
many a field had he plowed) thus spoke: "These Butchers, it is
true, slaughter us, but they do so with skillful hands, and with
no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into
the hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double
death: for you may be assured, that though all the Butchers
should perish, yet will men never want beef."
Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another.
The Lion, the Mouse, and the Fox
A LION, fatigued by the heat of a summer's day, fell fast asleep
in his den. A Mouse ran over his mane and ears and woke him from
his slumbers. He rose up and shook himself in great wrath, and
searched every corner of his den to find the Mouse. A Fox seeing
him said: "A fine Lion you are, to be frightened of a Mouse."
"'Tis not the Mouse I fear," said the Lion; "I resent his
familiarity and ill-breeding."
Little liberties are great offenses.
The Vain Jackdaw
JUPITER DETERMINED, it is said, to create a sovereign over the
birds, and made proclamation that on a certain day they should
all present themselves before him, when he would himself choose
the most beautiful among them to be king. The Jackdaw, knowing
his own ugliness, searched through the woods and fields, and
collected the feathers which had fallen from the wings of his
companions, and stuck them in all parts of his body, hoping
thereby to make himself the most beautiful of all. When the
appointed day arrived, and the birds had assembled before
Jupiter, the Jackdaw also made his appearance in his many
feathered finery. But when Jupiter proposed to make him king
because of the beauty of his plumage, the birds indignantly
protested, and each plucked from him his own feathers, leaving
the Jackdaw nothing but a Jackdaw.
The Goatherd and the Wild Goats
A GOATHERD, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide,
found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up
together with his own for the night. The next day it snowed very
hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding
places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his
own goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the
strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay
with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he
led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as
fast as they could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded them
for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he
had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them,
turning about, said to him: "That is the very reason why we are
so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the
Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came
after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves."
Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.
The Mischievous Dog
A DOG used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he met, and
to bite them without notice. His master suspended a bell about
his neck so that the Dog might give notice of his presence
wherever he went. Thinking it a mark of distinction, the Dog
grew proud of his bell and went tinkling it all over the
marketplace. One day an old hound said to him: Why do you make
such an exhibition of yourself? That bell that you carry is not,
believe me, any order of merit, but on the contrary a mark of
disgrace, a public notice to all men to avoid you as an ill
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
The Fox Who Had Lost His Tail
A FOX caught in a trap escaped, but in so doing lost his tail.
Thereafter, feeling his life a burden from the shame and ridicule
to which he was exposed, he schemed to convince all the other
Foxes that being tailless was much more attractive, thus making
up for his own deprivation. He assembled a good many Foxes and
publicly advised them to cut off their tails, saying that they
would not only look much better without them, but that they would
get rid of the weight of the brush, which was a very great
inconvenience. One of them interrupting him said, "If you had
not yourself lost your tail, my friend, you would not thus
The Boy and the Nettles
A BOY was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told his Mother,
saying, "Although it hurts me very much, I only touched it
gently." "That was just why it stung you," said his Mother. "The
next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be
soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you."
Whatever you do, do with all your might.
The Man and His Two Sweethearts
A MIDDLE-AGED MAN, whose hair had begun to turn gray, courted two
women at the same time. One of them was young, and the other
well advanced in years. The elder woman, ashamed to be courted
by a man younger than herself, made a point, whenever her admirer
visited her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs. The
younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the wife of an
old man, was equally zealous in removing every gray hair she
could find. Thus it came to pass that between them both he very
soon found that he had not a hair left on his head.
Those who seek to please everybody please nobody.
AN ASTRONOMER used to go out at night to observe the stars. One
evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole
attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep
well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises, and
cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning
what had happened said: "Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to
pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on
The Wolves and the Sheep
"WHY SHOULD there always be this fear and slaughter between us?"
said the Wolves to the Sheep. "Those evil-disposed Dogs have
much to answer for. They always bark whenever we approach you
and attack us before we have done any harm. If you would only
dismiss them from your heels, there might soon be treaties of
peace and reconciliation between us." The Sheep, poor silly
creatures, were easily beguiled and dismissed the Dogs, whereupon
the Wolves destroyed the unguarded flock at their own pleasure.
The Old Woman and the Physician
AN OLD WOMAN having lost the use of her eyes, called in a
Physician to heal them, and made this bargain with him in the
presence of witnesses: that if he should cure her blindness, he
should receive from her a sum of money; but if her infirmity
remained, she should give him nothing. This agreement being
made, the Physician, time after time, applied his salve to her
eyes, and on every visit took something away, stealing all her
property little by little. And when he had got all she had, he
healed her and demanded the promised payment. The Old Woman,
when she recovered her sight and saw none of her goods in her
house, would give him nothing. The Physician insisted on his
claim, and. as she still refused, summoned her before the Judge.
The Old Woman, standing up in the Court, argued: "This man here
speaks the truth in what he says; for I did promise to give him a
sum of money if I should recover my sight: but if I continued
blind, I was to give him nothing. Now he declares that I am
healed. I on the contrary affirm that I am still blind; for when
I lost the use of my eyes, I saw in my house various chattels and
valuable goods: but now, though he swears I am cured of my
blindness, I am not able to see a single thing in it."
The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle
TWO GAME COCKS were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the
farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished
Cock skulked away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the
conqueror, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed
exultingly with all his might. An Eagle sailing through the air
pounced upon him and carried him off in his talons. The
vanquished Cock immediately came out of his corner, and ruled
henceforth with undisputed mastery.
Pride goes before destruction.
The Charger and the Miller
A CHARGER, feeling the infirmities of age, was sent to work in a
mill instead of going out to battle. But when he was compelled
to grind instead of serving in the wars, he bewailed his change
of fortune and called to mind his former state, saying, "Ah!
Miller, I had indeed to go campaigning before, but I was barbed
from counter to tail, and a man went along to groom me; and now I
cannot understand what ailed me to prefer the mill before the
battle." "Forbear," said the Miller to him, "harping on what was
of yore, for it is the common lot of mortals to sustain the ups
and downs of fortune."
The Fox and the Monkey
A MONKEY once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased
them all by his performance that they elected him their King. A
Fox, envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a
trap, and leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said that
she had found a store, but had not used it, she had kept it for him
as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold
of it. The Monkey approached carelessly and was caught in the
trap; and on his accusing the Fox of purposely leading him into
the snare, she replied, "O Monkey, and are you, with such a mind
as yours, going to be King over the Beasts?"
The Horse and His Rider
A HORSE SOLDIER took the utmost pains with his charger. As long
as the war lasted, he looked upon him as his fellow-helper in all
emergencies and fed him carefully with hay and corn. But when
the war was over, he only allowed him chaff to eat and made him
carry heavy loads of wood, subjecting him to much slavish
drudgery and ill-treatment. War was again proclaimed, however,
and when the trumpet summoned him to his standard, the Soldier
put on his charger its military trappings, and mounted, being
clad in his heavy coat of mail. The Horse fell down straightway
under the weight, no longer equal to the burden, and said to his
master, "You must now go to the war on foot, for you have
transformed me from a Horse into an Ass; and how can you expect
that I can again turn in a moment from an Ass to a Horse?'
The Belly and the Members
THE MEMBERS of the Body rebelled against the Belly, and said,
"Why should we be perpetually engaged in administering to your
wants, while you do nothing but take your rest, and enjoy
yourself in luxury and self-indulgence?' The Members carried out
their resolve and refused their assistance to the Belly. The
whole Body quickly became debilitated, and the hands, feet,
mouth, and eyes, when too late, repented of their folly.
The Vine and the Goat
A VINE was luxuriant in the time of vintage with leaves and
grapes. A Goat, passing by, nibbled its young tendrils and its
leaves. The Vine addressed him and said: "Why do you thus injure
me without a cause, and crop my leaves? Is there no young grass
left? But I shall not have to wait long for my just revenge; for
if you now should crop my leaves, and cut me down to my root, I
shall provide the wine to pour over you when you are led as a
victim to the sacrifice."
Jupiter and the Monkey
JUPITER ISSUED a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest and
promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be
deemed the handsomest. The Monkey came with the rest and
presented, with all a mother's tenderness, a flat-nosed,
hairless, ill-featured young Monkey as a candidate for the
promised reward. A general laugh saluted her on the presentation
of her son. She resolutely said, "I know not whether Jupiter
will allot the prize to my son, but this I do know, that he is at
least in the eyes of me his mother, the dearest, handsomest, and
most beautiful of all."
The Widow and Her Little Maidens
A WIDOW who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait
on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the
morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive
labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so
early. When they had done this, they found that they had only
prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no
longer hearing the hour from the cock, woke them up to their work
in the middle of the night.
The Shepherd's Boy and the Wolf
A SHEPHERD-BOY, who watched a flock of sheep near a village,
brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out,
"Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at
them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last.
The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of
terror: "Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the
sheep"; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any
assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure
lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.
There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.
The Cat and the Birds
A CAT, hearing that the Birds in a certain aviary were ailing
dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking his cane and a bag
of instruments becoming his profession, went to call on them. He
knocked at the door and inquired of the inmates how they all did,
saying that if they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for
them and cure them. They replied, "We are all very well, and
shall continue so, if you will only be good enough to go away,
and leave us as we are."
The Kid and the Wolf
A KID standing on the roof of a house, out of harm's way, saw a
Wolf passing by and immediately began to taunt and revile him.
The Wolf, looking up, said, "Sirrah! I hear thee: yet it is not
thou who mockest me, but the roof on which thou art standing."
Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the
The Ox and the Frog
AN OX drinking at a pool trod on a brood of young frogs and
crushed one of them to death. The Mother coming up, and missing
one of her sons, inquired of his brothers what had become of him.
"He is dead, dear Mother; for just now a very huge beast with
four great feet came to the pool and crushed him to death with
his cloven heel." The Frog, puffing herself out, inquired, "if
the beast was as big as that in size." "Cease, Mother, to puff
yourself out," said her son, "and do not be angry; for you would,
I assure you, sooner burst than successfully imitate the hugeness
of that monster."
The Shepherd and the Wolf
A SHEPHERD once found the whelp of a Wolf and brought it up, and
after a while taught it to steal lambs from the neighboring
flocks. The Wolf, having shown himself an apt pupil, said to the
Shepherd, "Since you have taught me to steal, you must keep a
sharp lookout, or you will lose some of your own flock."
The Father and His Two Daughters
A MAN had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the
other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who
had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all
things went with her. She said, "All things are prospering with
me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of
rain, in order that the plants may be well watered." Not long
after, he went to the daughter who had married the tilemaker, and
likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, "I want for
nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may
continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks
might be dried." He said to her, "If your sister wishes for rain,
and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my
The Farmer and His Sons
A FATHER, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his
sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had
given it. He called them to his bedside and said, "My sons,
there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards." The sons,
after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug
over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but
the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and
The Crab and Its Mother
A CRAB said to her son, "Why do you walk so one-sided, my child?
It is far more becoming to go straight forward." The young Crab
replied: "Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the
straight way, I will promise to walk in it." The Mother tried in
vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her
Example is more powerful than precept.
The Heifer and the Ox
A HEIFER saw an Ox hard at work harnessed to a plow, and
tormented him with reflections on his unhappy fate in being
compelled to labor. Shortly afterwards, at the harvest festival,
the owner released the Ox from his yoke, but bound the Heifer
with cords and led him away to the altar to be slain in honor of
the occasion. The Ox saw what was being done, and said with a
smile to the Heifer: "For this you were allowed to live in
idleness, because you were presently to be sacrificed."
The Swallow, the Serpent, and the Court of Justice
A SWALLOW, returning from abroad and especially fond of dwelling
with men, built herself a nest in the wall of a Court of Justice
and there hatched seven young birds. A Serpent gliding past the
nest from its hole in the wall ate up the young unfledged
nestlings. The Swallow, finding her nest empty, lamented greatly
and exclaimed: "Woe to me a stranger! that in this place where
all others' rights are protected, I alone should suffer wrong."
The Thief and His Mother
A BOY stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took
it home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him,
but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to
her, and she again commended him. The Youth, advanced to
adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At
last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound
behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His
Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in
sorrow, whereupon the young man said, "I wish to say something to
my Mother in her ear." She came close to him, and he quickly
seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother
upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, "Ah! if
you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that
lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus
led to a disgraceful death."
The Old Man and Death
AN OLD MAN was employed in cutting wood in the forest, and, in
carrying the faggots to the city for sale one day, became very
wearied with his long journey. He sat down by the wayside, and
throwing down his load, besought "Death" to come. "Death"
immediately appeared in answer to his summons and asked for what
reason he had called him. The Old Man hurriedly replied, "That,
lifting up the load, you may place it again upon my shoulders."
The Fir-Tree and the Bramble
A FIR-TREE said boastingly to the Bramble, "You are useful for
nothing at all; while I am everywhere used for roofs and houses."
The Bramble answered: 'You poor creature, if you would only call
to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew you down, you
would have reason to wish that you had grown up a Bramble, not a
Better poverty without care, than riches with.
The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk
A MOUSE who always lived on the land, by an unlucky chance formed
an intimate acquaintance with a Frog, who lived for the most part
in the water. The Frog, one day intent on mischief, bound the
foot of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the
Frog first of all led his friend the Mouse to the meadow where
they were accustomed to find their food. After this, he
gradually led him towards the pool in which he lived, until
reaching the very brink, he suddenly jumped in, dragging the
Mouse with him. The Frog enjoyed the water amazingly, and swam
croaking about, as if he had done a good deed. The unhappy Mouse
was soon suffocated by the water, and his dead body floated about
on the surface, tied to the foot of the Frog. A Hawk observed
it, and, pouncing upon it with his talons, carried it aloft. The
Frog, being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also
carried off a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.
Harm hatch, harm catch.
The Man Bitten by a Dog
A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog went about in quest of someone
who might heal him. A friend, meeting him and learning what he
wanted, said, "If you would be cured, take a piece of bread, and
dip it in the blood from your wound, and go and give it to the
Dog that bit you." The Man who had been bitten laughed at this
advice and said, "Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I
should beg every Dog in the town to bite me."
Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed increase their means of
The Two Pots
A RIVER carried down in its stream two Pots, one made of
earthenware and the other of brass. The Earthen Pot said to the
Brass Pot, "Pray keep at a distance and do not come near me, for
if you touch me ever so slightly, I shall be broken in pieces,
and besides, I by no means wish to come near you."
Equals make the best friends.
The Wolf and the Sheep
A WOLF, sorely wounded and bitten by dogs, lay sick and maimed in
his lair. Being in want of food, he called to a Sheep who was
passing, and asked him to fetch some water from a stream flowing
close beside him. "For," he said, "if you will bring me drink, I
will find means to provide myself with meat." "Yes," said the
Sheep, "if I should bring you the draught, you would doubtless
make me provide the meat also."
Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.
THE PURCHASER of a black servant was persuaded that the color of
his skin arose from dirt contracted through the neglect of his
former masters. On bringing him home he resorted to every means
of cleaning, and subjected the man to incessant scrubbings. The
servant caught a severe cold, but he never changed his color or
What's bred in the bone will stick to the flesh.
The Fisherman and His Nets
A FISHERMAN, engaged in his calling, made a very successful cast
and captured a great haul of fish. He managed by a skillful
handling of his net to retain all the large fish and to draw them
to the shore; but he could not prevent the smaller fish from
falling back through the meshes of the net into the sea.
The Huntsman and the Fisherman
A HUNTSMAN, returning with his dogs from the field, fell in by
chance with a Fisherman who was bringing home a basket well laden
with fish. The Huntsman wished to have the fish, and their owner
experienced an equal longing for the contents of the game-bag.
They quickly agreed to exchange the produce of their day's sport.
Each was so well pleased with his bargain that they made for some
time the same exchange day after day. Finally a neighbor said to
them, "If you go on in this way, you will soon destroy by
frequent use the pleasure of your exchange, and each will again
wish to retain the fruits of his own sport."
Abstain and enjoy.
The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
AN OLD WOMAN found an empty jar which had lately been full of
prime old wine and which still retained the fragrant smell of its
former contents. She greedily placed it several times to her
nose, and drawing it backwards and forwards said, "O most
delicious! How nice must the Wine itself have been, when it
leaves behind in the very vessel which contained it so sweet a
The memory of a good deed lives.
The Fox and the Crow
A CROW having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it
in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat
himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded. "How handsome is the
Crow," he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the
fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to
her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of
Birds!" This he said deceitfully; but the Crow, anxious to refute
the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped
the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the
Crow: "My good Crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is
The Two Dogs
A MAN had two dogs: a Hound, trained to assist him in his sports,
and a Housedog, taught to watch the house. When he returned home
after a good day's sport, he always gave the Housedog a large
share of his spoil. The Hound, feeling much aggrieved at this,
reproached his companion, saying, "It is very hard to have all
this labor, while you, who do not assist in the chase, luxuriate
on the fruits of my exertions." The Housedog replied, "Do not
blame me, my friend, but find fault with the master, who has not
taught me to labor, but to depend for subsistence on the labor of
Children are not to be blamed for the faults of their parents.
The Stag in the Ox-Stall
A STAG, roundly chased by the hounds and blinded by fear to the
danger he was running into, took shelter in a farmyard and hid
himself in a shed among the oxen. An Ox gave him this kindly
warning: "O unhappy creature! why should you thus, of your own
accord, incur destruction and trust yourself in the house of your
enemy?' The Stag replied: "Only allow me, friend, to stay where I
am, and I will undertake to find some favorable opportunity of
effecting my escape." At the approach of the evening the herdsman
came to feed his cattle, but did not see the Stag; and even the
farm-bailiff with several laborers passed through the shed and
failed to notice him. The Stag, congratulating himself on his
safety, began to express his sincere thanks to the Oxen who had
kindly helped him in the hour of need. One of them again
answered him: "We indeed wish you well, but the danger is not
over. There is one other yet to pass through the shed, who has
as it were a hundred eyes, and until he has come and gone, your
life is still in peril." At that moment the master himself
entered, and having had to complain that his oxen had not been
properly fed, he went up to their racks and cried out: "Why is
there such a scarcity of fodder? There is not half enough straw
for them to lie on. Those lazy fellows have not even swept the
cobwebs away." While he thus examined everything in turn, he
spied the tips of the antlers of the Stag peeping out of the
straw. Then summoning his laborers, he ordered that the Stag
should be seized and killed.
The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons
THE PIGEONS, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon
the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When they had
admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc
and slew a larger number of them in one day than the Kite could
pounce upon in a whole year.
Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.
The Widow and the Sheep
A CERTAIN poor widow had one solitary Sheep. At shearing time,
wishing to take his fleece and to avoid expense, she sheared him
herself, but used the shears so unskillfully that with the fleece
she sheared the flesh. The Sheep, writhing with pain, said, "Why
do you hurt me so, Mistress? What weight can my blood add to the
wool? If you want my flesh, there is the butcher, who will kill
me in an instant; but if you want my fleece and wool, there is
the shearer, who will shear and not hurt me."
The least outlay is not always the greatest gain.
The Wild Ass and the Lion
A WILD ASS and a Lion entered into an alliance so that they might
capture the beasts of the forest with greater ease. The Lion
agreed to assist the Wild Ass with his strength, while the Wild
Ass gave the Lion the benefit of his greater speed. When they
had taken as many beasts as their necessities required, the Lion
undertook to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it
into three shares. "I will take the first share," he said,
"because I am King: and the second share, as a partner with you
in the chase: and the third share (believe me) will be a source
of great evil to you, unless you willingly resign it to me, and
set off as fast as you can."
Might makes right.
The Eagle and the Arrow
AN EAGLE sat on a lofty rock, watching the movements of a Hare
whom he sought to make his prey. An archer, who saw the Eagle
from a place of concealment, took an accurate aim and wounded him
mortally. The Eagle gave one look at the arrow that had entered
his heart and saw in that single glance that its feathers had
been furnished by himself. "It is a double grief to me," he
exclaimed, "that I should perish by an arrow feathered from my
The Sick Kite
A KITE, sick unto death, said to his mother: "O Mother! do not
mourn, but at once invoke the gods that my life may be
prolonged." She replied, "Alas! my son, which of the gods do you
think will pity you? Is there one whom you have not outraged by
filching from their very altars a part of the sacrifice offered
up to them?'
We must make friends in prosperity if we would have their help in
The Lion and the Dolphin
A LION roaming by the seashore saw a Dolphin lift up its head out
of the waves, and suggested that they contract an alliance,
saying that of all the animals they ought to be the best friends,
since the one was the king of beasts on the earth, and the other
was the sovereign ruler of all the inhabitants of the ocean. The
Dolphin gladly consented to this request. Not long afterwards
the Lion had a combat with a wild bull, and called on the Dolphin
to help him. The Dolphin, though quite willing to give him
assistance, was unable to do so, as he could not by any means
reach the land. The Lion abused him as a traitor. The Dolphin
replied, "Nay, my friend, blame not me, but Nature, which, while
giving me the sovereignty of the sea, has quite denied me the
power of living upon the land."
The Lion and the Boar
ON A SUMMER DAY, when the great heat induced a general thirst
among the beasts, a Lion and a Boar came at the same moment to a
small well to drink. They fiercely disputed which of them should
drink first, and were soon engaged in the agonies of a mortal
combat. When they stopped suddenly to catch their breath for a
fiercer renewal of the fight, they saw some Vultures waiting in
the distance to feast on the one that should fall first. They at
once made up their quarrel, saying, "It is better for us to make
friends, than to become the food of Crows or Vultures."
The One-Eyed Doe
A DOE blind in one eye was accustomed to graze as near to the
edge of the cliff as she possibly could, in the hope of securing
her greater safety. She turned her sound eye towards the land
that she might get the earliest tidings of the approach of hunter
or hound, and her injured eye towards the sea, from whence she
entertained no anticipation of danger. Some boatmen sailing by
saw her, and taking a successful aim, mortally wounded her.
Yielding up her last breath, she gasped forth this lament: "O
wretched creature that I am! to take such precaution against the
land, and after all to find this seashore, to which I had come
for safety, so much more perilous."
The Shepherd and the Sea
A SHEPHERD, keeping watch over his sheep near the shore, saw the
Sea very calm and smooth, and longed to make a voyage with a view
to commerce. He sold all his flock, invested it in a cargo of
dates, and set sail. But a very great tempest came on, and the
ship being in danger of sinking, he threw all his merchandise
overboard, and barely escaped with his life in the empty ship.
Not long afterwards when someone passed by and observed the
unruffled calm of the Sea, he interrupted him and said, "It is
again in want of dates, and therefore looks quiet."
The Ass, the Cock, and the Lion
AN ASS and a Cock were in a straw-yard together when a Lion,
desperate from hunger, approached the spot. He was about to
spring upon the Ass, when the Cock (to the sound of whose voice
the Lion, it is said, has a singular aversion) crowed loudly, and
the Lion fled away as fast as he could. The Ass, observing his
trepidation at the mere crowing of a Cock summoned courage to
attack him, and galloped after him for that purpose. He had run
no long distance, when the Lion, turning about, seized him and
tore him to pieces.
False confidence often leads into danger.
The Mice and the Weasels
THE WEASELS and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other,
in which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the
victors. The Mice thought that the cause of their frequent
defeats was that they had no leaders set apart from the general
army to command them, and that they were exposed to dangers from
lack of discipline. They therefore chose as leaders Mice that
were most renowned for their family descent, strength, and
counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage in the
fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array and
formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was
done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly
proclaimed war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen
generals bound their heads with straws, that they might be more
conspicuous to all their troops. Scarcely had the battle begun,
when a great rout overwhelmed the Mice, who scampered off as fast
as they could to their holes. The generals, not being able to
get in on account of the ornaments on their heads, were all
captured and eaten by the Weasels.
The more honor the more danger.
The Mice in Council
THE MICE summoned a council to decide how they might best devise
means of warning themselves of the approach of their great enemy
the Cat. Among the many plans suggested, the one that found most
favor was the proposal to tie a bell to the neck of the Cat, so
that the Mice, being warned by the sound of the tinkling, might
run away and hide themselves in their holes at his approach. But
when the Mice further debated who among them should thus "bell
the Cat," there was no one found to do it.
The Wolf and the Housedog
A WOLF, meeting a big well-fed Mastiff with a wooden collar about
his neck asked him who it was that fed him so well and yet
compelled him to drag that heavy log about wherever he went.
"The master," he replied. Then said the Wolf: "May no friend of
mine ever be in such a plight; for the weight of this chain is
enough to spoil the appetite."
The Rivers and the Sea
THE RIVERS joined together to complain to the Sea, saying, "Why
is it that when we flow into your tides so potable and sweet, you
work in us such a change, and make us salty and unfit to drink?"
The Sea, perceiving that they intended to throw the blame on him,
said, "Pray cease to flow into me, and then you will not be made
The Playful Ass
AN ASS climbed up to the roof of a building, and frisking about
there, broke in the tiling. The owner went up after him and
quickly drove him down, beating him severely with a thick wooden
cudgel. The Ass said, "Why, I saw the Monkey do this very thing
yesterday, and you all laughed heartily, as if it afforded you
very great amusement."
The Three Tradesmen
A GREAT CITY was besieged, and its inhabitants were called
together to consider the best means of protecting it from the
enemy. A Bricklayer earnestly recommended bricks as affording
the best material for an effective resistance. A Carpenter, with
equal enthusiasm, proposed timber as a preferable method of
defense. Upon which a Currier stood up and said, "Sirs, I differ
from you altogether: there is no material for resistance equal to
a covering of hides; and nothing so good as leather."
Every man for himself.
The Master and His Dogs
A CERTAIN MAN, detained by a storm in his country house, first of
all killed his sheep, and then his goats, for the maintenance of
his household. The storm still continuing, he was obliged to
slaughter his yoke oxen for food. On seeing this, his Dogs took
counsel together, and said, "It is time for us to be off, for if
the master spare not his oxen, who work for his gain, how can we
expect him to spare us?'
He is not to be trusted as a friend who mistreats his own family.
The Wolf and the Shepherds
A WOLF, passing by, saw some Shepherds in a hut eating a haunch
of mutton for their dinner. Approaching them, he said, "What a
clamor you would raise if I were to do as you are doing!"
The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat
THE DOLPHINS and Whales waged a fierce war with each other. When
the battle was at its height, a Sprat lifted its head out of the
waves and said that he would reconcile their differences if they
would accept him as an umpire. One of the Dolphins replied, "We
would far rather be destroyed in our battle with each other than
admit any interference from you in our affairs."
The Ass Carrying the Image
AN ASS once carried through the streets of a city a famous wooden
Image, to be placed in one of its Temples. As he passed along,
the crowd made lowly prostration before the Image. The Ass,
thinking that they bowed their heads in token of respect for
himself, bristled up with pride, gave himself airs, and refused
to move another step. The driver, seeing him thus stop, laid his
whip lustily about his shoulders and said, "O you perverse
dull-head! it is not yet come to this, that men pay worship to an
They are not wise who give to themselves the credit due to
The Two Travelers and the Axe
TWO MEN were journeying together. One of them picked up an axe
that lay upon the path, and said, "I have found an axe." "Nay, my
friend," replied the other, "do not say 'I,' but 'We' have found
an axe." They had not gone far before they saw the owner of the
axe pursuing them, and he who had picked up the axe said, "We are
undone." "Nay," replied the other, "keep to your first mode of
speech, my friend; what you thought right then, think right now.
Say 'I,' not 'We' are undone."
He who shares the danger ought to share the prize.
The Old Lion
A LION, worn out with years and powerless from disease, lay on
the ground at the point of death. A Boar rushed upon him, and
avenged with a stroke of his tusks a long-remembered injury.
Shortly afterwards the Bull with his horns gored him as if he
were an enemy. When the Ass saw that the huge beast could be
assailed with impunity, he let drive at his forehead with his
heels. The expiring Lion said, "I have reluctantly brooked the
insults of the brave, but to be compelled to endure such
treatment from thee, a disgrace to Nature, is indeed to die a
The Old Hound
A HOUND, who in the days of his youth and strength had never
yielded to any beast of the forest, encountered in his old age a
boar in the chase. He seized him boldly by the ear, but could
not retain his hold because of the decay of his teeth, so that
the boar escaped. His master, quickly coming up, was very much
disappointed, and fiercely abused the dog. The Hound looked up
and said, "It was not my fault. master: my spirit was as good as
ever, but I could not help my infirmities. I rather deserve to
be praised for what I have been, than to be blamed for what I
The Bee and Jupiter
A BEE from Mount Hymettus, the queen of the hive, ascended to
Olympus to present Jupiter some honey fresh from her combs.
Jupiter, delighted with the offering of honey, promised to give
whatever she should ask. She therefore besought him, saying,
"Give me, I pray thee, a sting, that if any mortal shall approach
to take my honey, I may kill him." Jupiter was much displeased,
for he loved the race of man, but could not refuse the request
because of his promise. He thus answered the Bee: "You shall
have your request, but it will be at the peril of your own life.
For if you use your sting, it shall remain in the wound you make,
and then you will die from the loss of it."
Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.
The Milk-Woman and Her Pail
A FARMER'S daughter was carrying her Pail of milk from the field
to the farmhouse, when she fell a-musing. "The money for which
this milk will be sold, will buy at least three hundred eggs.
The eggs, allowing for all mishaps, will produce two hundred and
fifty chickens. The chickens will become ready for the market
when poultry will fetch the highest price, so that by the end of
the year I shall have money enough from my share to buy a new
gown. In this dress I will go to the Christmas parties, where
all the young fellows will propose to me, but I will toss my head
and refuse them every one." At this moment she tossed her head in
unison with her thoughts, when down fell the milk pail to the
ground, and all her imaginary schemes perished in a moment.
The Seaside Travelers
SOME TRAVELERS, journeying along the seashore, climbed to the
summit of a tall cliff, and looking over the sea, saw in the
distance what they thought was a large ship. They waited in the
hope of seeing it enter the harbor, but as the object on which
they looked was driven nearer to shore by the wind, they found
that it could at the most be a small boat, and not a ship. When
however it reached the beach, they discovered that it was only a
large faggot of sticks, and one of them said to his companions,
"We have waited for no purpose, for after all there is nothing to
see but a load of wood."
Our mere anticipations of life outrun its realities.
The Brazier and His Dog
A BRAZIER had a little Dog, which was a great favorite with his
master, and his constant companion. While he hammered away at
his metals the Dog slept; but when, on the other hand, he went to
dinner and began to eat, the Dog woke up and wagged his tail, as
if he would ask for a share of his meal. His master one day,
pretending to be angry and shaking his stick at him, said, "You
wretched little sluggard! what shall I do to you? While I am
hammering on the anvil, you sleep on the mat; and when I begin to
eat after my toil, you wake up and wag your tail for food. Do
you not know that labor is the source of every blessing, and that
none but those who work are entitled to eat?'
The Ass and His Shadow
A TRAVELER hired an Ass to convey him to a distant place. The
day being intensely hot, and the sun shining in its strength, the
Traveler stopped to rest, and sought shelter from the heat under
the Shadow of the Ass. As this afforded only protection for one,
and as the Traveler and the owner of the Ass both claimed it, a
violent dispute arose between them as to which of them had the
right to the Shadow. The owner maintained that he had let the
Ass only, and not his Shadow. The Traveler asserted that he had,
with the hire of the Ass, hired his Shadow also. The quarrel
proceeded from words to blows, and while the men fought, the Ass
In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.
The Ass and His Masters
AN ASS, belonging to an herb-seller who gave him too little food
and too much work made a petition to Jupiter to be released from
his present service and provided with another master. Jupiter,
after warning him that he would repent his request, caused him to
be sold to a tile-maker. Shortly afterwards, finding that he had
heavier loads to carry and harder work in the brick-field, he
petitioned for another change of master. Jupiter, telling him
that it would be the last time that he could grant his request,
ordained that he be sold to a tanner. The Ass found that he had
fallen into worse hands, and noting his master's occupation,
said, groaning: "It would have been better for me to have been
either starved by the one, or to have been overworked by the
other of my former masters, than to have been bought by my
present owner, who will even after I am dead tan my hide, and
make me useful to him."
The Oak and the Reeds
A VERY LARGE OAK was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a
stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: "I
wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely
crushed by these strong winds." They replied, "You fight and
contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed; while
we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and
therefore remain unbroken, and escape."
Stoop to conquer.
The Fisherman and the Little Fish
A FISHERMAN who lived on the produce of his nets, one day caught
a single small Fish as the result of his day's labor. The Fish,
panting convulsively, thus entreated for his life: "O Sir, what
good can I be to you, and how little am I worth? I am not yet
come to my full size. Pray spare my life, and put me back into
the sea. I shall soon become a large fish fit for the tables of
the rich, and then you can catch me again, and make a handsome
profit of me." The Fisherman replied, "I should indeed be a very
simple fellow if, for the chance of a greater uncertain profit, I
were to forego my present certain gain."
The Hunter and the Woodman
A HUNTER, not very bold, was searching for the tracks of a Lion.
He asked a man felling oaks in the forest if he had seen any
marks of his footsteps or knew where his lair was. "I will,"
said the man, "at once show you the Lion himself." The Hunter,
turning very pale and chattering with his teeth from fear,
replied, "No, thank you. I did not ask that; it is his track
only I am in search of, not the Lion himself."
The hero is brave in deeds as well as words.
The Wild Boar and the Fox
A WILD BOAR stood under a tree and rubbed his tusks against the
trunk. A Fox passing by asked him why he thus sharpened his
teeth when there was no danger threatening from either huntsman
or hound. He replied, "I do it advisedly; for it would never do
to have to sharpen my weapons just at the time I ought to be
The Lion in a Farmyard
A LION entered a farmyard. The Farmer, wishing to catch him,
shut the gate. When the Lion found that he could not escape, he
flew upon the sheep and killed them, and then attacked the oxen.
The Farmer, beginning to be alarmed for his own safety, opened
the gate and released the Lion. On his departure the Farmer
grievously lamented the destruction of his sheep and oxen, but
his wife, who had been a spectator to all that took place, said,
"On my word, you are rightly served, for how could you for a
moment think of shutting up a Lion along with you in your
farmyard when you know that you shake in your shoes if you only
hear his roar at a distance?'
Mercury and the Sculptor
MERCURY ONCE DETERMINED to learn in what esteem he was held among
mortals. For this purpose he assumed the character of a man and
visited in this disguise a Sculptor's studio having looked at
various statues, he demanded the price of two figures of Jupiter
and Juno. When the sum at which they were valued was named, he
pointed to a figure of himself, saying to the Sculptor, "You will
certainly want much more for this, as it is the statue of the
Messenger of the Gods, and author of all your gain." The
Sculptor replied, "Well, if you will buy these, I'll fling you
that into the bargain."
The Swan and the Goose
A CERTAIN rich man bought in the market a Goose and a Swan. He
fed the one for his table and kept the other for the sake of its
song. When the time came for killing the Goose, the cook went to
get him at night, when it was dark, and he was not able to
distinguish one bird from the other. By mistake he caught the
Swan instead of the Goose. The Swan, threatened with death,
burst forth into song and thus made himself known by his voice,
and preserved his life by his melody.
The Swollen Fox
A VERY HUNGRY FOX, seeing some bread and meat left by shepherds
in the hollow of an oak, crept into the hole and made a hearty
meal. When he finished, he was so full that he was not able to
get out, and began to groan and lament his fate. Another Fox
passing by heard his cries, and coming up, inquired the cause of
his complaining. On learning what had happened, he said to him,
"Ah, you will have to remain there, my friend, until you become
such as you were when you crept in, and then you will easily get
The Fox and the Woodcutter
A FOX, running before the hounds, came across a Woodcutter
felling an oak and begged him to show him a safe hiding-place.
The Woodcutter advised him to take shelter in his own hut, so the
Fox crept in and hid himself in a corner. The huntsman soon came
up with his hounds and inquired of the Woodcutter if he had seen
the Fox. He declared that he had not seen him, and yet pointed,
all the time he was speaking, to the hut where the Fox lay
hidden. The huntsman took no notice of the signs, but believing
his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were
well away, the Fox departed without taking any notice of the
Woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached him, saying,
"You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you
leave me without a word of thanks." The Fox replied, "Indeed, I
should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good
as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your
The Birdcatcher, the Partridge, and the Cock
A BIRDCATCHER was about to sit down to a dinner of herbs when a
friend unexpectedly came in. The bird-trap was quite empty, as
he had caught nothing, and he had to kill a pied Partridge, which
he had tamed for a decoy. The bird entreated earnestly for his
life: "What would you do without me when next you spread your
nets? Who would chirp you to sleep, or call for you the covey of
answering birds?' The Birdcatcher spared his life, and determined
to pick out a fine young Cock just attaining to his comb. But
the Cock expostulated in piteous tones from his perch: "If you
kill me, who will announce to you the appearance of the dawn?
Who will wake you to your daily tasks or tell you when it is time
to visit the bird-trap in the morning?' He replied, "What you say
is true. You are a capital bird at telling the time of day. But
my friend and I must have our dinners."
Necessity knows no law.
The Monkey and the Fishermen
A MONKEY perched upon a lofty tree saw some Fishermen casting
their nets into a river, and narrowly watched their proceedings.
The Fishermen after a while gave up fishing, and on going home to
dinner left their nets upon the bank. The Monkey, who is the
most imitative of animals, descended from the treetop and
endeavored to do as they had done. Having handled the net, he
threw it into the river, but became tangled in the meshes and
drowned. With his last breath he said to himself, "I am rightly
served; for what business had I who had never handled a net to
try and catch fish?'
The Flea and the Wrestler
A FLEA settled upon the bare foot of a Wrestler and bit him,
causing the man to call loudly upon Hercules for help. When the
Flea a second time hopped upon his foot, he groaned and said, "O
Hercules! if you will not help me against a Flea, how can I hope
for your assistance against greater antagonists?'
The Two Frogs
TWO FROGS dwelt in the same pool. When the pool dried up under
the summer's heat, they left it and set out together for another
home. As they went along they chanced to pass a deep well, amply
supplied with water, and when they saw it, one of the Frogs said
to the other, "Let us descend and make our abode in this well: it
will furnish us with shelter and food." The other replied with
greater caution, "But suppose the water should fail us. How can
we get out again from so great a depth?'
Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.
The Cat and the Mice
A CERTAIN HOUSE was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this,
made her way into it and began to catch and eat them one by one.
Fearing for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their
holes. The Cat was no longer able to get at them and perceived
that she must tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose
she jumped upon a peg, and suspending herself from it, pretended
to be dead. One of the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and
said, "Ah, my good madam, even though you should turn into a
meal-bag, we will not come near you."
The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
A LION and a Bear seized a Kid at the same moment, and fought
fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully lacerated
each other and were faint from the long combat, they lay down
exhausted with fatigue. A Fox, who had gone round them at a
distance several times, saw them both stretched on the ground
with the Kid lying untouched in the middle. He ran in between
them, and seizing the Kid scampered off as fast as he could. The
Lion and the Bear saw him, but not being able to get up, said,
"Woe be to us, that we should have fought and belabored ourselves
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