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Title: Aesop's Fables
 - Translated by George Fyler Townsend
Author: Aesop
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Aesop's Fables
 - Translated by George Fyler Townsend" ***


By Aesop

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 his tyranny.

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 time escaped.

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 strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing
his roar, came and gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free,

“You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, not expecting
to receive from me any repayment of your favor; now you know that it is
possible for even a Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion.”

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 sticks.”

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 life.

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

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 winter.”

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 fatigue.

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

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

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 winter.”

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 leisure.

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 earth?”

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 who can.”

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.

The Miser

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

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 more.”

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!”

The Lioness

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 Lion.”

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 life.”

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

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

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

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 us.”

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 mannered

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
counsel us.”

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

Those who seek to please everybody please nobody.

The Astronomer

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 earth?”

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

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 strong.

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 wishes?”

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 superabundant crop.

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 child.

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

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 Fir-Tree.”

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
injuring you.

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 Aethiop

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 complexion.

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 perfume!”

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 others.”

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 own wings.”

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

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

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 briny.”

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

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 Ass.”

They are not wise who give to themselves the credit due to others.

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 double

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 am.”

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
galloped off.

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 using them.”

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 out.”

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 speech.”

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
only to serve the turn of a Fox.”

It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and another all the

The Doe and the Lion

A DOE hard pressed by hunters sought refuge in a cave belonging to a
Lion. The Lion concealed himself on seeing her approach, but when she
was safe within the cave, sprang upon her and tore her to pieces. “Woe
is me,” exclaimed the Doe, “who have escaped from man, only to throw
myself into the mouth of a wild beast?”

In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into another.

The Farmer and the Fox

A FARMER, who bore a grudge against a Fox for robbing his poultry yard,
caught him at last, and being determined to take an ample revenge, tied
some rope well soaked in oil to his tail, and set it on fire. The Fox by
a strange fatality rushed to the fields of the Farmer who had captured
him. It was the time of the wheat harvest; but the Farmer reaped nothing
that year and returned home grieving sorely.

The Seagull and the Kite

A SEAGULL having bolted down too large a fish, burst its deep gullet-bag
and lay down on the shore to die. A Kite saw him and exclaimed: “You
richly deserve your fate; for a bird of the air has no business to seek
its food from the sea.”

Every man should be content to mind his own business.

The Philosopher, the Ants, and Mercury

A PHILOSOPHER witnessed from the shore the shipwreck of a vessel, of
which the crew and passengers were all drowned. He inveighed against
the injustice of Providence, which would for the sake of one criminal
perchance sailing in the ship allow so many innocent persons to perish.
As he was indulging in these reflections, he found himself surrounded
by a whole army of Ants, near whose nest he was standing. One of them
climbed up and stung him, and he immediately trampled them all to death
with his foot. Mercury presented himself, and striking the Philosopher
with his wand, said, “And are you indeed to make yourself a judge of
the dealings of Providence, who hast thyself in a similar manner treated
these poor Ants?”

The Mouse and the Bull

A BULL was bitten by a Mouse and, angered by the wound, tried to capture
him. But the Mouse reached his hole in safety. Though the Bull dug into
the walls with his horns, he tired before he could rout out the Mouse,
and crouching down, went to sleep outside the hole. The Mouse peeped
out, crept furtively up his flank, and again biting him, retreated to
his hole. The Bull rising up, and not knowing what to do, was sadly
perplexed. At which the Mouse said, “The great do not always prevail.
There are times when the small and lowly are the strongest to do

The Lion and the Hare

A LION came across a Hare, who was fast asleep. He was just in the act
of seizing her, when a fine young Hart trotted by, and he left the Hare
to follow him. The Hare, scared by the noise, awoke and scudded away.
The Lion was unable after a long chase to catch the Hart, and returned
to feed upon the Hare. On finding that the Hare also had run off, he
said, “I am rightly served, for having let go of the food that I had in
my hand for the chance of obtaining more.”

The Peasant and the Eagle

A PEASANT found an Eagle captured in a trap, and much admiring the bird,
set him free. The Eagle did not prove ungrateful to his deliverer, for
seeing the Peasant sitting under a wall which was not safe, he flew
toward him and with his talons snatched a bundle from his head. When the
Peasant rose in pursuit, the Eagle let the bundle fall again. Taking
it up, the man returned to the same place, to find that the wall under
which he had been sitting had fallen to pieces; and he marveled at the
service rendered him by the Eagle.

The Image of Mercury and the Carpenter

A VERY POOR MAN, a Carpenter by trade, had a wooden image of Mercury,
before which he made offerings day by day, and begged the idol to make
him rich, but in spite of his entreaties he became poorer and poorer.
At last, being very angry, he took his image down from its pedestal and
dashed it against the wall. When its head was knocked off, out came a
stream of gold, which the Carpenter quickly picked up and said, “Well,
I think thou art altogether contradictory and unreasonable; for when I
paid you honor, I reaped no benefits: but now that I maltreat you I am
loaded with an abundance of riches.”

The Bull and the Goat

A BULL, escaping from a Lion, hid in a cave which some shepherds had
recently occupied. As soon as he entered, a He-Goat left in the cave
sharply attacked him with his horns. The Bull quietly addressed him:
“Butt away as much as you will. I have no fear of you, but of the
Lion. Let that monster go away and I will soon let you know what is the
respective strength of a Goat and a Bull.”

It shows an evil disposition to take advantage of a friend in distress.

The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally great mimics
of men’s actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils, and when
arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of
the courtiers. The spectacle was often repeated with great applause,
till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket
a handful of nuts and threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys at the
sight of the nuts forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were)
Monkeys instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their
robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing spectacle
thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of the audience.

The Fox and the Leopard

THE FOX and the Leopard disputed which was the more beautiful of the
two. The Leopard exhibited one by one the various spots which decorated
his skin. But the Fox, interrupting him, said, “And how much more
beautiful than you am I, who am decorated, not in body, but in mind.”

The Monkeys and Their Mother

THE MONKEY, it is said, has two young ones at each birth. The Mother
fondles one and nurtures it with the greatest affection and care, but
hates and neglects the other. It happened once that the young one which
was caressed and loved was smothered by the too great affection of the
Mother, while the despised one was nurtured and reared in spite of the
neglect to which it was exposed.

The best intentions will not always ensure success.

The Oaks and Jupiter

THE OAKS presented a complaint to Jupiter, saying, “We bear for no
purpose the burden of life, as of all the trees that grow we are the
most continually in peril of the axe.” Jupiter made answer: “You have
only to thank yourselves for the misfortunes to which you are exposed:
for if you did not make such excellent pillars and posts, and prove
yourselves so serviceable to the carpenters and the farmers, the axe
would not so frequently be laid to your roots.”

The Hare and the Hound

A HOUND started a Hare from his lair, but after a long run, gave up the
chase. A goat-herd seeing him stop, mocked him, saying “The little one
is the best runner of the two.” The Hound replied, “You do not see the
difference between us: I was only running for a dinner, but he for his

The Traveler and Fortune

A TRAVELER wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome with fatigue,
on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was about to fall into the
water, Dame Fortune, it is said, appeared to him and waking him from
his slumber thus addressed him: “Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall
into the well, the blame will be thrown on me, and I shall get an
ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure to impute their
calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really
brought them on themselves.”

Everyone is more or less master of his own fate.

The Bald Knight

A BALD KNIGHT, who wore a wig, went out to hunt. A sudden puff of wind
blew off his hat and wig, at which a loud laugh rang forth from his
companions. He pulled up his horse, and with great glee joined in the
joke by saying, “What a marvel it is that hairs which are not mine
should fly from me, when they have forsaken even the man on whose head
they grew.”

The Shepherd and the Dog

A SHEPHERD penning his sheep in the fold for the night was about to shut
up a wolf with them, when his Dog perceiving the wolf said, “Master, how
can you expect the sheep to be safe if you admit a wolf into the fold?”

The Lamp

A LAMP, soaked with too much oil and flaring brightly, boasted that it
gave more light than the sun. Then a sudden puff of wind arose, and the
Lamp was immediately extinguished. Its owner lit it again, and said:
“Boast no more, but henceforth be content to give thy light in silence.
Know that not even the stars need to be relit.”

The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass

THE LION, the Fox and the Ass entered into an agreement to assist each
other in the chase. Having secured a large booty, the Lion on their
return from the forest asked the Ass to allot his due portion to each
of the three partners in the treaty. The Ass carefully divided the spoil
into three equal shares and modestly requested the two others to make
the first choice. The Lion, bursting out into a great rage, devoured the
Ass. Then he requested the Fox to do him the favor to make a division.
The Fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and
left to himself the smallest possible morsel. The Lion said, “Who has
taught you, my very excellent fellow, the art of division? You are
perfect to a fraction.” He replied, “I learned it from the Ass, by
witnessing his fate.”

Happy is the man who learns from the misfortunes of others.

The Bull, the Lioness, and the Wild-Boar Hunter

A BULL finding a lion’s cub asleep gored him to death with his horns.
The Lioness came up, and bitterly lamented the death of her whelp. A
wild-boar Hunter, seeing her distress, stood at a distance and said to
her, “Think how many men there are who have reason to lament the loss of
their children, whose deaths have been caused by you.”

The Oak and the Woodcutters

THE WOODCUTTER cut down a Mountain Oak and split it in pieces, making
wedges of its own branches for dividing the trunk. The Oak said with a
sigh, “I do not care about the blows of the axe aimed at my roots, but
I do grieve at being torn in pieces by these wedges made from my own

Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.

The Hen and the Golden Eggs

A COTTAGER and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They
supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside,
and in order to get the gold they killed it. Having done so, they found
to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other
hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived
themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day.

The Ass and the Frogs

AN ASS, carrying a load of wood, passed through a pond. As he was
crossing through the water he lost his footing, stumbled and fell, and
not being able to rise on account of his load, groaned heavily. Some
Frogs frequenting the pool heard his lamentation, and said, “What would
you do if you had to live here always as we do, when you make such a
fuss about a mere fall into the water?”

Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they do large

The Crow and the Raven

A CROW was jealous of the Raven, because he was considered a bird of
good omen and always attracted the attention of men, who noted by his
flight the good or evil course of future events. Seeing some travelers
approaching, the Crow flew up into a tree, and perching herself on one
of the branches, cawed as loudly as she could. The travelers turned
towards the sound and wondered what it foreboded, when one of them said
to his companion, “Let us proceed on our journey, my friend, for it is
only the caw of a crow, and her cry, you know, is no omen.”

Those who assume a character which does not belong to them, only make
themselves ridiculous.

The Trees and the Axe

A MAN came into a forest and asked the Trees to provide him a handle
for his axe. The Trees consented to his request and gave him a young
ash-tree. No sooner had the man fitted a new handle to his axe from it,
than he began to use it and quickly felled with his strokes the
noblest giants of the forest. An old oak, lamenting when too late the
destruction of his companions, said to a neighboring cedar, “The first
step has lost us all. If we had not given up the rights of the ash, we
might yet have retained our own privileges and have stood for ages.”

The Crab and the Fox

A CRAB, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green meadow as its
feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and being very hungry ate him
up. Just as he was on the point of being eaten, the Crab said, “I well
deserve my fate, for what business had I on the land, when by my nature
and habits I am only adapted for the sea?”

Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness.

The Woman and Her Hen

A WOMAN possessed a Hen that gave her an egg every day. She often
pondered how she might obtain two eggs daily instead of one, and at
last, to gain her purpose, determined to give the Hen a double allowance
of barley. From that day the Hen became fat and sleek, and never once
laid another egg.

The Ass and the Old Shepherd

A SHEPHERD, watching his Ass feeding in a meadow, was alarmed all of
a sudden by the cries of the enemy. He appealed to the Ass to fly with
him, lest they should both be captured, but the animal lazily replied,
“Why should I, pray? Do you think it likely the conqueror will place on
me two sets of panniers?” “No,” rejoined the Shepherd. “Then,” said
the Ass, “as long as I carry the panniers, what matters it to me whom I

In a change of government the poor change nothing beyond the name of
their master.

The Kites and the Swans

TEE KITES of olden times, as well as the Swans, had the privilege of
song. But having heard the neigh of the horse, they were so enchanted
with the sound, that they tried to imitate it; and, in trying to neigh,
they forgot how to sing.

The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present

The Wolves and the Sheepdogs

THE WOLVES thus addressed the Sheepdogs: “Why should you, who are like
us in so many things, not be entirely of one mind with us, and live with
us as brothers should? We differ from you in one point only. We live in
freedom, but you bow down to and slave for men, who in return for your
services flog you with whips and put collars on your necks. They make
you also guard their sheep, and while they eat the mutton throw only
the bones to you. If you will be persuaded by us, you will give us the
sheep, and we will enjoy them in common, till we all are surfeited.” The
Dogs listened favorably to these proposals, and, entering the den of the
Wolves, they were set upon and torn to pieces.

The Hares and the Foxes

THE HARES waged war with the Eagles, and called upon the Foxes to help
them. They replied, “We would willingly have helped you, if we had not
known who you were, and with whom you were fighting.”

Count the cost before you commit yourselves.

The Bowman and Lion

A VERY SKILLFUL BOWMAN went to the mountains in search of game, but all
the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The Lion alone challenged
him to combat. The Bowman immediately shot out an arrow and said to the
Lion: “I send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayest learn what
I myself shall be when I assail thee.” The wounded Lion rushed away in
great fear, and when a Fox who had seen it all happen told him to be of
good courage and not to back off at the first attack he replied: “You
counsel me in vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I
abide the attack of the man himself?”

Be on guard against men who can strike from a distance.

The Camel

WHEN MAN first saw the Camel, he was so frightened at his vast size that
he ran away. After a time, perceiving the meekness and gentleness of
the beast’s temper, he summoned courage enough to approach him. Soon
afterwards, observing that he was an animal altogether deficient in
spirit, he assumed such boldness as to put a bridle in his mouth, and to
let a child drive him.

Use serves to overcome dread.

The Wasp and the Snake

A WASP seated himself upon the head of a Snake and, striking him
unceasingly with his stings, wounded him to death. The Snake, being in
great torment and not knowing how to rid himself of his enemy, saw a
wagon heavily laden with wood, and went and purposely placed his
head under the wheels, saying, “At least my enemy and I shall perish

The Dog and the Hare

A HOUND having started a Hare on the hillside pursued her for some
distance, at one time biting her with his teeth as if he would take her
life, and at another fawning upon her, as if in play with another dog.
The Hare said to him, “I wish you would act sincerely by me, and show
yourself in your true colors. If you are a friend, why do you bite me so
hard? If an enemy, why do you fawn on me?”

No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust or distrust him.

The Bull and the Calf

A BULL was striving with all his might to squeeze himself through a
narrow passage which led to his stall. A young Calf came up, and offered
to go before and show him the way by which he could manage to pass.
“Save yourself the trouble,” said the Bull; “I knew that way long before
you were born.”

The Stag, the Wolf, and the Sheep

A STAG asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat, and said that the
Wolf would be his surety. The Sheep, fearing some fraud was intended,
excused herself, saying, “The Wolf is accustomed to seize what he wants
and to run off; and you, too, can quickly outstrip me in your rapid
flight. How then shall I be able to find you, when the day of payment

Two blacks do not make one white.

The Peacock and the Crane

A PEACOCK spreading its gorgeous tail mocked a Crane that passed by,
ridiculing the ashen hue of its plumage and saying, “I am robed, like
a king, in gold and purple and all the colors of the rainbow; while you
have not a bit of color on your wings.” “True,” replied the Crane; “but
I soar to the heights of heaven and lift up my voice to the stars, while
you walk below, like a cock, among the birds of the dunghill.”

Fine feathers don’t make fine birds.

The Fox and the Hedgehog

A FOX swimming across a rapid river was carried by the force of the
current into a very deep ravine, where he lay for a long time very much
bruised, sick, and unable to move. A swarm of hungry blood-sucking flies
settled upon him. A Hedgehog, passing by, saw his anguish and inquired
if he should drive away the flies that were tormenting him. “By no
means,” replied the Fox; “pray do not molest them.” “How is this?” said
the Hedgehog; “do you not want to be rid of them?” “No,” returned the
Fox, “for these flies which you see are full of blood, and sting me but
little, and if you rid me of these which are already satiated, others
more hungry will come in their place, and will drink up all the blood I
have left.”

The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow

AN EAGLE made her nest at the top of a lofty oak; a Cat, having found
a convenient hole, moved into the middle of the trunk; and a Wild Sow,
with her young, took shelter in a hollow at its foot. The Cat cunningly
resolved to destroy this chance-made colony. To carry out her design,
she climbed to the nest of the Eagle, and said, “Destruction is
preparing for you, and for me too, unfortunately. The Wild Sow, whom you
see daily digging up the earth, wishes to uproot the oak, so she may
on its fall seize our families as food for her young.” Having thus
frightened the Eagle out of her senses, she crept down to the cave of
the Sow, and said, “Your children are in great danger; for as soon
as you go out with your litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to
pounce upon one of your little pigs.” Having instilled these fears into
the Sow, she went and pretended to hide herself in the hollow of the
tree. When night came she went forth with silent foot and obtained
food for herself and her kittens, but feigning to be afraid, she kept a
lookout all through the day. Meanwhile, the Eagle, full of fear of the
Sow, sat still on the branches, and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did
not dare to go out from her cave. And thus they both, along with their
families, perished from hunger, and afforded ample provision for the Cat
and her kittens.

The Thief and the Innkeeper

A THIEF hired a room in a tavern and stayed a while in the hope of
stealing something which should enable him to pay his reckoning. When he
had waited some days in vain, he saw the Innkeeper dressed in a new and
handsome coat and sitting before his door. The Thief sat down beside him
and talked with him. As the conversation began to flag, the Thief yawned
terribly and at the same time howled like a wolf. The Innkeeper said,
“Why do you howl so fearfully?” “I will tell you,” said the Thief, “but
first let me ask you to hold my clothes, or I shall tear them to pieces.
I know not, sir, when I got this habit of yawning, nor whether these
attacks of howling were inflicted on me as a judgment for my crimes, or
for any other cause; but this I do know, that when I yawn for the third
time, I actually turn into a wolf and attack men.” With this speech he
commenced a second fit of yawning and again howled like a wolf, as he
had at first. The Innkeeper, hearing his tale and believing what he
said, became greatly alarmed and, rising from his seat, attempted to run
away. The Thief laid hold of his coat and entreated him to stop, saying,
“Pray wait, sir, and hold my clothes, or I shall tear them to pieces
in my fury, when I turn into a wolf.” At the same moment he yawned the
third time and set up a terrible howl. The Innkeeper, frightened lest
he should be attacked, left his new coat in the Thief’s hand and ran as
fast as he could into the inn for safety. The Thief made off with the
coat and did not return again to the inn.

Every tale is not to be believed.

The Mule

A MULE, frolicsome from lack of work and from too much corn, galloped
about in a very extravagant manner, and said to himself: “My father
surely was a high-mettled racer, and I am his own child in speed and
spirit.” On the next day, being driven a long journey, and feeling
very wearied, he exclaimed in a disconsolate tone: “I must have made a
mistake; my father, after all, could have been only an ass.”

The Hart and the Vine

A HART, hard pressed in the chase, hid himself beneath the large leaves
of a Vine. The huntsmen, in their haste, overshot the place of his
concealment. Supposing all danger to have passed, the Hart began to
nibble the tendrils of the Vine. One of the huntsmen, attracted by the
rustling of the leaves, looked back, and seeing the Hart, shot an arrow
from his bow and struck it. The Hart, at the point of death, groaned: “I
am rightly served, for I should not have maltreated the Vine that saved

The Serpent and the Eagle

A SERPENT and an Eagle were struggling with each other in deadly
conflict. The Serpent had the advantage, and was about to strangle the
bird. A countryman saw them, and running up, loosed the coil of the
Serpent and let the Eagle go free. The Serpent, irritated at the
escape of his prey, injected his poison into the drinking horn of the
countryman. The rustic, ignorant of his danger, was about to drink, when
the Eagle struck his hand with his wing, and, seizing the drinking horn
in his talons, carried it aloft.

The Crow and the Pitcher

A CROW perishing with thirst saw a pitcher, and hoping to find water,
flew to it with delight. When he reached it, he discovered to his grief
that it contained so little water that he could not possibly get at it.
He tried everything he could think of to reach the water, but all his
efforts were in vain. At last he collected as many stones as he could
carry and dropped them one by one with his beak into the pitcher, until
he brought the water within his reach and thus saved his life.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

The Two Frogs

TWO FROGS were neighbors. One inhabited a deep pond, far removed from
public view; the other lived in a gully containing little water, and
traversed by a country road. The Frog that lived in the pond warned his
friend to change his residence and entreated him to come and live with
him, saying that he would enjoy greater safety from danger and more
abundant food. The other refused, saying that he felt it so very hard to
leave a place to which he had become accustomed. A few days afterwards a
heavy wagon passed through the gully and crushed him to death under its

A willful man will have his way to his own hurt.

The Wolf and the Fox

AT ONE TIME a very large and strong Wolf was born among the wolves, who
exceeded all his fellow-wolves in strength, size, and swiftness, so that
they unanimously decided to call him “Lion.” The Wolf, with a lack of
sense proportioned to his enormous size, thought that they gave him this
name in earnest, and, leaving his own race, consorted exclusively with
the lions. An old sly Fox, seeing this, said, “May I never make myself
so ridiculous as you do in your pride and self-conceit; for even though
you have the size of a lion among wolves, in a herd of lions you are
definitely a wolf.”

The Walnut-Tree

A WALNUT TREE standing by the roadside bore an abundant crop of fruit.
For the sake of the nuts, the passers-by broke its branches with stones
and sticks. The Walnut-Tree piteously exclaimed, “O wretched me! that
those whom I cheer with my fruit should repay me with these painful

The Gnat and the Lion

A GNAT came and said to a Lion, “I do not in the least fear you, nor are
you stronger than I am. For in what does your strength consist? You
can scratch with your claws and bite with your teeth an a woman in her
quarrels. I repeat that I am altogether more powerful than you; and if
you doubt it, let us fight and see who will conquer.” The Gnat, having
sounded his horn, fastened himself upon the Lion and stung him on the
nostrils and the parts of the face devoid of hair. While trying to crush
him, the Lion tore himself with his claws, until he punished himself
severely. The Gnat thus prevailed over the Lion, and, buzzing about in
a song of triumph, flew away. But shortly afterwards he became entangled
in the meshes of a cobweb and was eaten by a spider. He greatly lamented
his fate, saying, “Woe is me! that I, who can wage war successfully
with the hugest beasts, should perish myself from this spider, the most
inconsiderable of insects!”

The Monkey and the Dolphin

A SAILOR, bound on a long voyage, took with him a Monkey to amuse him
while on shipboard. As he sailed off the coast of Greece, a violent
tempest arose in which the ship was wrecked and he, his Monkey, and all
the crew were obliged to swim for their lives. A Dolphin saw the Monkey
contending with the waves, and supposing him to be a man (whom he is
always said to befriend), came and placed himself under him, to convey
him on his back in safety to the shore. When the Dolphin arrived with
his burden in sight of land not far from Athens, he asked the Monkey
if he were an Athenian. The latter replied that he was, and that he was
descended from one of the most noble families in that city. The Dolphin
then inquired if he knew the Piraeus (the famous harbor of Athens).
Supposing that a man was meant, the Monkey answered that he knew him
very well and that he was an intimate friend. The Dolphin, indignant at
these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey under the water and drowned him.

The Jackdaw and the Doves

A JACKDAW, seeing some Doves in a cote abundantly provided with food,
painted himself white and joined them in order to share their plentiful
maintenance. The Doves, as long as he was silent, supposed him to be one
of themselves and admitted him to their cote. But when one day he forgot
himself and began to chatter, they discovered his true character and
drove him forth, pecking him with their beaks. Failing to obtain food
among the Doves, he returned to the Jackdaws. They too, not recognizing
him on account of his color, expelled him from living with them. So
desiring two ends, he obtained neither.

The Horse and the Stag

AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself. Then a Stag
intruded into his domain and shared his pasture. The Horse, desiring to
revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he were willing to
help him in punishing the Stag. The man replied that if the Horse would
receive a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him, he would contrive
effective weapons against the Stag. The Horse consented and allowed
the man to mount him. From that hour he found that instead of obtaining
revenge on the Stag, he had enslaved himself to the service of man.

The Kid and the Wolf

A KID, returning without protection from the pasture, was pursued by a
Wolf. Seeing he could not escape, he turned round, and said: “I know,
friend Wolf, that I must be your prey, but before I die I would ask of
you one favor you will play me a tune to which I may dance.” The Wolf
complied, and while he was piping and the Kid was dancing, some hounds
hearing the sound ran up and began chasing the Wolf. Turning to the
Kid, he said, “It is just what I deserve; for I, who am only a butcher,
should not have turned piper to please you.”

The Prophet

A WIZARD, sitting in the marketplace, was telling the fortunes of the
passers-by when a person ran up in great haste, and announced to him
that the doors of his house had been broken open and that all his goods
were being stolen. He sighed heavily and hastened away as fast as he
could run. A neighbor saw him running and said, “Oh! you fellow there!
you say you can foretell the fortunes of others; how is it you did not
foresee your own?”

The Fox and the Monkey

A FOX and a Monkey were traveling together on the same road. As they
journeyed, they passed through a cemetery full of monuments. “All these
monuments which you see,” said the Monkey, “are erected in honor of my
ancestors, who were in their day freedmen and citizens of great renown.”
 The Fox replied, “You have chosen a most appropriate subject for
your falsehoods, as I am sure none of your ancestors will be able to
contradict you.”

A false tale often betrays itself.

The Thief and the Housedog

A THIEF came in the night to break into a house. He brought with him
several slices of meat in order to pacify the Housedog, so that he would
not alarm his master by barking. As the Thief threw him the pieces of
meat, the Dog said, “If you think to stop my mouth, you will be greatly
mistaken. This sudden kindness at your hands will only make me more
watchful, lest under these unexpected favors to myself, you have some
private ends to accomplish for your own benefit, and for my master’s

The Man, the Horse, the Ox, and the Dog

A HORSE, Ox, and Dog, driven to great straits by the cold, sought
shelter and protection from Man. He received them kindly, lighted a
fire, and warmed them. He let the Horse make free with his oats, gave
the Ox an abundance of hay, and fed the Dog with meat from his own
table. Grateful for these favors, the animals determined to repay him
to the best of their ability. For this purpose, they divided the term
of his life between them, and each endowed one portion of it with the
qualities which chiefly characterized himself. The Horse chose his
earliest years and gave them his own attributes: hence every man is in
his youth impetuous, headstrong, and obstinate in maintaining his own
opinion. The Ox took under his patronage the next term of life, and
therefore man in his middle age is fond of work, devoted to labor, and
resolute to amass wealth and to husband his resources. The end of life
was reserved for the Dog, wherefore the old man is often snappish,
irritable, hard to please, and selfish, tolerant only of his own
household, but averse to strangers and to all who do not administer to
his comfort or to his necessities.

The Apes and the Two Travelers

TWO MEN, one who always spoke the truth and the other who told nothing
but lies, were traveling together and by chance came to the land of
Apes. One of the Apes, who had raised himself to be king, commanded them
to be seized and brought before him, that he might know what was said of
him among men. He ordered at the same time that all the Apes be arranged
in a long row on his right hand and on his left, and that a throne be
placed for him, as was the custom among men. After these preparations
he signified that the two men should be brought before him, and greeted
them with this salutation: “What sort of a king do I seem to you to be,
O strangers?” The Lying Traveler replied, “You seem to me a most mighty
king.” “And what is your estimate of those you see around me?” “These,”
 he made answer, “are worthy companions of yourself, fit at least to be
ambassadors and leaders of armies.” The Ape and all his court, gratified
with the lie, commanded that a handsome present be given to the
flatterer. On this the truthful Traveler thought to himself, “If so
great a reward be given for a lie, with what gift may not I be rewarded,
if, according to my custom, I tell the truth?” The Ape quickly turned
to him. “And pray how do I and these my friends around me seem to you?”
 “Thou art,” he said, “a most excellent Ape, and all these thy companions
after thy example are excellent Apes too.” The King of the Apes, enraged
at hearing these truths, gave him over to the teeth and claws of his

The Wolf and the Shepherd

A WOLF followed a flock of sheep for a long time and did not attempt
to injure one of them. The Shepherd at first stood on his guard against
him, as against an enemy, and kept a strict watch over his movements.
But when the Wolf, day after day, kept in the company of the sheep and
did not make the slightest effort to seize them, the Shepherd began to
look upon him as a guardian of his flock rather than as a plotter of
evil against it; and when occasion called him one day into the city,
he left the sheep entirely in his charge. The Wolf, now that he had the
opportunity, fell upon the sheep, and destroyed the greater part of
the flock. When the Shepherd returned to find his flock destroyed, he
exclaimed: “I have been rightly served; why did I trust my sheep to a

The Hares and the Lions

THE HARES harangued the assembly, and argued that all should be equal.
The Lions made this reply: “Your words, O Hares! are good; but they lack
both claws and teeth such as we have.”

The Lark and Her Young Ones

A LARK had made her nest in the early spring on the young green wheat.
The brood had almost grown to their full strength and attained the use
of their wings and the full plumage of their feathers, when the owner of
the field, looking over his ripe crop, said, “The time has come when I
must ask all my neighbors to help me with my harvest.” One of the young
Larks heard his speech and related it to his mother, inquiring of her
to what place they should move for safety. “There is no occasion to move
yet, my son,” she replied; “the man who only sends to his friends to
help him with his harvest is not really in earnest.” The owner of the
field came again a few days later and saw the wheat shedding the grain
from excess of ripeness. He said, “I will come myself tomorrow with my
laborers, and with as many reapers as I can hire, and will get in the
harvest.” The Lark on hearing these words said to her brood, “It is time
now to be off, my little ones, for the man is in earnest this time; he
no longer trusts his friends, but will reap the field himself.”

Self-help is the best help.

The Fox and the Lion

WHEN A FOX who had never yet seen a Lion, fell in with him by chance for
the first time in the forest, he was so frightened that he nearly
died with fear. On meeting him for the second time, he was still much
alarmed, but not to the same extent as at first. On seeing him the third
time, he so increased in boldness that he went up to him and commenced a
familiar conversation with him.

Acquaintance softens prejudices.

The Weasel and the Mice

A WEASEL, inactive from age and infirmities, was not able to catch mice
as he once did. He therefore rolled himself in flour and lay down in a
dark corner. A Mouse, supposing him to be food, leaped upon him, and was
instantly caught and squeezed to death. Another perished in a similar
manner, and then a third, and still others after them. A very old Mouse,
who had escaped many a trap and snare, observed from a safe distance
the trick of his crafty foe and said, “Ah! you that lie there, may you
prosper just in the same proportion as you are what you pretend to be!”

The Boy Bathing

A BOY bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out
to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding out a helping
hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his
imprudence. “Oh, sir!” cried the youth, “pray help me now and scold me

Counsel without help is useless.

The Ass and the Wolf

AN ASS feeding in a meadow saw a Wolf approaching to seize him, and
immediately pretended to be lame. The Wolf, coming up, inquired the
cause of his lameness. The Ass replied that passing through a hedge he
had trod with his foot upon a sharp thorn. He requested that the Wolf
pull it out, lest when he ate him it should injure his throat. The Wolf
consented and lifted up the foot, and was giving his whole mind to the
discovery of the thorn, when the Ass, with his heels, kicked his teeth
into his mouth and galloped away. The Wolf, being thus fearfully mauled,
said, “I am rightly served, for why did I attempt the art of healing,
when my father only taught me the trade of a butcher?”

The Seller of Images

A CERTAIN MAN made a wooden image of Mercury and offered it for sale.
When no one appeared willing to buy it, in order to attract purchasers,
he cried out that he had the statue to sell of a benefactor who bestowed
wealth and helped to heap up riches. One of the bystanders said to him,
“My good fellow, why do you sell him, being such a one as you describe,
when you may yourself enjoy the good things he has to give?” “Why,” he
replied, “I am in need of immediate help, and he is wont to give his
good gifts very slowly.”

The Fox and the Grapes

A FAMISHED FOX saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from
a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but
wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she
turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: “The Grapes are sour,
and not ripe as I thought.”

The Man and His Wife

A MAN had a Wife who made herself hated by all the members of his
household. Wishing to find out if she had the same effect on the persons
in her father’s house, he made some excuse to send her home on a visit
to her father. After a short time she returned, and when he inquired how
she had got on and how the servants had treated her, she replied, “The
herdsmen and shepherds cast on me looks of aversion.” He said, “O Wife,
if you were disliked by those who go out early in the morning with their
flocks and return late in the evening, what must have been felt towards
you by those with whom you passed the whole day!”

Straws show how the wind blows.

The Peacock and Juno

THE PEACOCK made complaint to Juno that, while the nightingale pleased
every ear with his song, he himself no sooner opened his mouth than he
became a laughingstock to all who heard him. The Goddess, to console
him, said, “But you far excel in beauty and in size. The splendor of the
emerald shines in your neck and you unfold a tail gorgeous with painted
plumage.” “But for what purpose have I,” said the bird, “this dumb
beauty so long as I am surpassed in song?” “The lot of each,” replied
Juno, “has been assigned by the will of the Fates--to thee, beauty; to
the eagle, strength; to the nightingale, song; to the raven, favorable,
and to the crow, unfavorable auguries. These are all contented with the
endowments allotted to them.”

The Hawk and the Nightingale

A NIGHTINGALE, sitting aloft upon an oak and singing according to his
wont, was seen by a Hawk who, being in need of food, swooped down and
seized him. The Nightingale, about to lose his life, earnestly begged
the Hawk to let him go, saying that he was not big enough to satisfy
the hunger of a Hawk who, if he wanted food, ought to pursue the larger
birds. The Hawk, interrupting him, said: “I should indeed have lost
my senses if I should let go food ready in my hand, for the sake of
pursuing birds which are not yet even within sight.”

The Dog, the Cock, and the Fox

A DOG and a Cock being great friends, agreed to travel together. At
nightfall they took shelter in a thick wood. The Cock flying up, perched
himself on the branches of a tree, while the Dog found a bed beneath in
the hollow trunk. When the morning dawned, the Cock, as usual, crowed
very loudly several times. A Fox heard the sound, and wishing to make
a breakfast on him, came and stood under the branches, saying how
earnestly he desired to make the acquaintance of the owner of so
magnificent a voice. The Cock, suspecting his civilities, said: “Sir, I
wish you would do me the favor of going around to the hollow trunk below
me, and waking my porter, so that he may open the door and let you in.”
 When the Fox approached the tree, the Dog sprang out and caught him, and
tore him to pieces.

The Wolf and the Goat

A WOLF saw a Goat feeding at the summit of a steep precipice, where he
had no chance of reaching her. He called to her and earnestly begged her
to come lower down, lest she fall by some mishap; and he added that the
meadows lay where he was standing, and that the herbage was most tender.
She replied, “No, my friend, it is not for the pasture that you invite
me, but for yourself, who are in want of food.”

The Lion and the Bull

A LION, greatly desiring to capture a Bull, and yet afraid to attack
him on account of his great size, resorted to a trick to ensure his
destruction. He approached the Bull and said, “I have slain a fine
sheep, my friend; and if you will come home and partake of him with me,
I shall be delighted to have your company.” The Lion said this in the
hope that, as the Bull was in the act of reclining to eat, he might
attack him to advantage, and make his meal on him. The Bull, on
approaching the Lion’s den, saw the huge spits and giant caldrons, and
no sign whatever of the sheep, and, without saying a word, quietly took
his departure. The Lion inquired why he went off so abruptly without
a word of salutation to his host, who had not given him any cause for
offense. “I have reasons enough,” said the Bull. “I see no indication
whatever of your having slaughtered a sheep, while I do see very plainly
every preparation for your dining on a bull.”

The Goat and the Ass

A MAN once kept a Goat and an Ass. The Goat, envying the Ass on account
of his greater abundance of food, said, “How shamefully you are
treated: at one time grinding in the mill, and at another carrying heavy
burdens;” and he further advised him to pretend to be epileptic and
fall into a ditch and so obtain rest. The Ass listened to his words, and
falling into a ditch, was very much bruised. His master, sending for a
leech, asked his advice. He bade him pour upon the wounds the lungs of a
Goat. They at once killed the Goat, and so healed the Ass.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

A COUNTRY MOUSE invited a Town Mouse, an intimate friend, to pay him
a visit and partake of his country fare. As they were on the bare
plowlands, eating there wheat-stocks and roots pulled up from the
hedgerow, the Town Mouse said to his friend, “You live here the life of
the ants, while in my house is the horn of plenty. I am surrounded by
every luxury, and if you will come with me, as I wish you would, you
shall have an ample share of my dainties.” The Country Mouse was easily
persuaded, and returned to town with his friend. On his arrival, the
Town Mouse placed before him bread, barley, beans, dried figs, honey,
raisins, and, last of all, brought a dainty piece of cheese from a
basket. The Country Mouse, being much delighted at the sight of such
good cheer, expressed his satisfaction in warm terms and lamented his
own hard fate. Just as they were beginning to eat, someone opened the
door, and they both ran off squeaking, as fast as they could, to a hole
so narrow that two could only find room in it by squeezing. They had
scarcely begun their repast again when someone else entered to take
something out of a cupboard, whereupon the two Mice, more frightened
than before, ran away and hid themselves. At last the Country Mouse,
almost famished, said to his friend: “Although you have prepared for
me so dainty a feast, I must leave you to enjoy it by yourself. It is
surrounded by too many dangers to please me. I prefer my bare plowlands
and roots from the hedgerow, where I can live in safety, and without

The Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape

A WOLF accused a Fox of theft, but the Fox entirely denied the charge.
An Ape undertook to adjudge the matter between them. When each had fully
stated his case the Ape announced this sentence: “I do not think you,
Wolf, ever lost what you claim; and I do believe you, Fox, to have
stolen what you so stoutly deny.”

The dishonest, if they act honestly, get no credit.

The Fly and the Draught-Mule

A FLY sat on the axle-tree of a chariot, and addressing the Draught-Mule
said, “How slow you are! Why do you not go faster? See if I do not prick
your neck with my sting.” The Draught-Mule replied, “I do not heed your
threats; I only care for him who sits above you, and who quickens my
pace with his whip, or holds me back with the reins. Away, therefore,
with your insolence, for I know well when to go fast, and when to go

The Fishermen

SOME FISHERMEN were out trawling their nets. Perceiving them to be very
heavy, they danced about for joy and supposed that they had taken a
large catch. When they had dragged the nets to the shore they found but
few fish: the nets were full of sand and stones, and the men were beyond
measure cast down so much at the disappointment which had befallen them,
but because they had formed such very different expectations. One of
their company, an old man, said, “Let us cease lamenting, my mates, for,
as it seems to me, sorrow is always the twin sister of joy; and it was
only to be looked for that we, who just now were over-rejoiced, should
next have something to make us sad.”

The Lion and the Three Bulls

THREE BULLS for a long time pastured together. A Lion lay in ambush in
the hope of making them his prey, but was afraid to attack them while
they kept together. Having at last by guileful speeches succeeded in
separating them, he attacked them without fear as they fed alone, and
feasted on them one by one at his own leisure.

Union is strength.

The Fowler and the Viper

A FOWLER, taking his bird-lime and his twigs, went out to catch birds.
Seeing a thrush sitting upon a tree, he wished to take it, and fitting
his twigs to a proper length, watched intently, having his whole
thoughts directed towards the sky. While thus looking upwards, he
unknowingly trod upon a Viper asleep just before his feet. The Viper,
turning about, stung him, and falling into a swoon, the man said to
himself, “Woe is me! that while I purposed to hunt another, I am myself
fallen unawares into the snares of death.”

The Horse and the Ass

A HORSE, proud of his fine trappings, met an Ass on the highway. The
Ass, being heavily laden, moved slowly out of the way. “Hardly,” said
the Horse, “can I resist kicking you with my heels.” The Ass held his
peace, and made only a silent appeal to the justice of the gods. Not
long afterwards the Horse, having become broken-winded, was sent by his
owner to the farm. The Ass, seeing him drawing a dungcart, thus derided
him: “Where, O boaster, are now all thy gay trappings, thou who are
thyself reduced to the condition you so lately treated with contempt?”

The Fox and the Mask

A FOX entered the house of an actor and, rummaging through all his
properties, came upon a Mask, an admirable imitation of a human head. He
placed his paws on it and said, “What a beautiful head! Yet it is of no
value, as it entirely lacks brains.”

The Geese and the Cranes

THE GEESE and the Cranes were feeding in the same meadow, when a
birdcatcher came to ensnare them in his nets. The Cranes, being light of
wing, fled away at his approach; while the Geese, being slower of flight
and heavier in their bodies, were captured.

The Blind Man and the Whelp

A BLIND MAN was accustomed to distinguishing different animals by
touching them with his hands. The whelp of a Wolf was brought him, with
a request that he would feel it, and say what it was. He felt it, and
being in doubt, said: “I do not quite know whether it is the cub of a
Fox, or the whelp of a Wolf, but this I know full well. It would not be
safe to admit him to the sheepfold.”

Evil tendencies are shown in early life.

The Dogs and the Fox

SOME DOGS, finding the skin of a lion, began to tear it in pieces with
their teeth. A Fox, seeing them, said, “If this lion were alive, you
would soon find out that his claws were stronger than your teeth.”

It is easy to kick a man that is down.

The Cobbler Turned Doctor

A COBBLER unable to make a living by his trade and made desperate by
poverty, began to practice medicine in a town in which he was not known.
He sold a drug, pretending that it was an antidote to all poisons,
and obtained a great name for himself by long-winded puffs and
advertisements. When the Cobbler happened to fall sick himself of a
serious illness, the Governor of the town determined to test his skill.
For this purpose he called for a cup, and while filling it with water,
pretended to mix poison with the Cobbler’s antidote, commanding him
to drink it on the promise of a reward. The Cobbler, under the fear of
death, confessed that he had no knowledge of medicine, and was only made
famous by the stupid clamors of the crowd. The Governor then called a
public assembly and addressed the citizens: “Of what folly have you been
guilty? You have not hesitated to entrust your heads to a man, whom no
one could employ to make even the shoes for their feet.”

The Wolf and the Horse

A WOLF coming out of a field of oats met a Horse and thus addressed
him: “I would advise you to go into that field. It is full of fine oats,
which I have left untouched for you, as you are a friend whom I would
love to hear enjoying good eating.” The Horse replied, “If oats had been
the food of wolves, you would never have indulged your ears at the cost
of your belly.”

Men of evil reputation, when they perform a good deed, fail to get
credit for it.

The Brother and the Sister

A FATHER had one son and one daughter, the former remarkable for his
good looks, the latter for her extraordinary ugliness. While they were
playing one day as children, they happened by chance to look together
into a mirror that was placed on their mother’s chair. The boy
congratulated himself on his good looks; the girl grew angry, and could
not bear the self-praises of her Brother, interpreting all he said (and
how could she do otherwise?) into reflection on herself. She ran off to
her father, to be avenged on her Brother, and spitefully accused him
of having, as a boy, made use of that which belonged only to girls.
The father embraced them both, and bestowing his kisses and affection
impartially on each, said, “I wish you both would look into the mirror
every day: you, my son, that you may not spoil your beauty by evil
conduct; and you, my daughter, that you may make up for your lack of
beauty by your virtues.”

The Wasps, the Partridges, and the Farmer

THE WASPS and the Partridges, overcome with thirst, came to a Farmer and
besought him to give them some water to drink. They promised amply to
repay him the favor which they asked. The Partridges declared that they
would dig around his vines and make them produce finer grapes. The Wasps
said that they would keep guard and drive off thieves with their stings.
But the Farmer interrupted them, saying: “I have already two oxen, who,
without making any promises, do all these things. It is surely better
for me to give the water to them than to you.”

The Crow and Mercury

A CROW caught in a snare prayed to Apollo to release him, making a vow
to offer some frankincense at his shrine. But when rescued from his
danger, he forgot his promise. Shortly afterwards, again caught in
a snare, he passed by Apollo and made the same promise to offer
frankincense to Mercury. Mercury soon appeared and said to him, “O thou
most base fellow? how can I believe thee, who hast disowned and wronged
thy former patron?”

The North Wind and the Sun

THE NORTH WIND and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful,
and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip
a wayfaring man of his clothes. The North Wind first tried his power
and blew with all his might, but the keener his blasts, the closer the
Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, until at last, resigning all hope
of victory, the Wind called upon the Sun to see what he could do. The
Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth. The Traveler no sooner felt
his genial rays than he took off one garment after another, and at last,
fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in
his path.

Persuasion is better than Force.

The Two Men Who Were Enemies

TWO MEN, deadly enemies to each other, were sailing in the same vessel.
Determined to keep as far apart as possible, the one seated himself in
the stem, and the other in the prow of the ship. A violent storm arose,
and with the vessel in great danger of sinking, the one in the stern
inquired of the pilot which of the two ends of the ship would go down
first. On his replying that he supposed it would be the prow, the Man
said, “Death would not be grievous to me, if I could only see my Enemy
die before me.”

The Gamecocks and the Partridge

A MAN had two Gamecocks in his poultry-yard. One day by chance he found
a tame Partridge for sale. He purchased it and brought it home to
be reared with his Gamecocks. When the Partridge was put into the
poultry-yard, they struck at it and followed it about, so that the
Partridge became grievously troubled and supposed that he was thus
evilly treated because he was a stranger. Not long afterwards he saw the
Cocks fighting together and not separating before one had well beaten
the other. He then said to himself, “I shall no longer distress myself
at being struck at by these Gamecocks, when I see that they cannot even
refrain from quarreling with each other.”

The Quack Frog

A FROG once upon a time came forth from his home in the marsh and
proclaimed to all the beasts that he was a learned physician, skilled
in the use of drugs and able to heal all diseases. A Fox asked him, “How
can you pretend to prescribe for others, when you are unable to heal
your own lame gait and wrinkled skin?”

The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox

A LION, growing old, lay sick in his cave. All the beasts came to visit
their king, except the Fox. The Wolf therefore, thinking that he had
a capital opportunity, accused the Fox to the Lion of not paying any
respect to him who had the rule over them all and of not coming to visit
him. At that very moment the Fox came in and heard these last words of
the Wolf. The Lion roaring out in a rage against him, the Fox sought an
opportunity to defend himself and said, “And who of all those who have
come to you have benefited you so much as I, who have traveled from
place to place in every direction, and have sought and learnt from the
physicians the means of healing you?” The Lion commanded him immediately
to tell him the cure, when he replied, “You must flay a wolf alive
and wrap his skin yet warm around you.” The Wolf was at once taken and
flayed; whereon the Fox, turning to him, said with a smile, “You should
have moved your master not to ill, but to good, will.”

The Dog’s House

IN THE WINTERTIME, a Dog curled up in as small a space as possible on
account of the cold, determined to make himself a house. However when
the summer returned again, he lay asleep stretched at his full length
and appeared to himself to be of a great size. Now he considered that
it would be neither an easy nor a necessary work to make himself such a
house as would accommodate him.

The Wolf and the Lion

ROAMING BY the mountainside at sundown, a Wolf saw his own shadow become
greatly extended and magnified, and he said to himself, “Why should I,
being of such an immense size and extending nearly an acre in length,
be afraid of the Lion? Ought I not to be acknowledged as King of all
the collected beasts?” While he was indulging in these proud thoughts,
a Lion fell upon him and killed him. He exclaimed with a too late
repentance, “Wretched me! this overestimation of myself is the cause of
my destruction.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?”


THE LIFE and History of Aesop is involved, like that of Homer, the most
famous of Greek poets, in much obscurity. Sardis, the capital of Lydia;
Samos, a Greek island; Mesembria, an ancient colony in Thrace; and
Cotiaeum, the chief city of a province of Phrygia, contend for the
distinction of being the birthplace of Aesop. Although the honor thus
claimed cannot be definitely assigned to any one of these places,
yet there are a few incidents now generally accepted by scholars as
established facts, relating to the birth, life, and death of Aesop. He
is, by an almost universal consent, allowed to have been born about the
year 620 B.C., and to have been by birth a slave. He was owned by two
masters in succession, both inhabitants of Samos, Xanthus and Jadmon,
the latter of whom gave him his liberty as a reward for his learning
and wit. One of the privileges of a freedman in the ancient republics of
Greece, was the permission to take an active interest in public affairs;
and Aesop, like the philosophers Phaedo, Menippus, and Epictetus, in
later times, raised himself from the indignity of a servile condition
to a position of high renown. In his desire alike to instruct and to be
instructed, he travelled through many countries, and among others came
to Sardis, the capital of the famous king of Lydia, the great patron, in
that day, of learning and of learned men. He met at the court of Croesus
with Solon, Thales, and other sages, and is related so to have pleased
his royal master, by the part he took in the conversations held with
these philosophers, that he applied to him an expression which has since
passed into a proverb, “The Phrygian has spoken better than all.”

On the invitation of Croesus he fixed his residence at Sardis, and was
employed by that monarch in various difficult and delicate affairs of
State. In his discharge of these commissions he visited the different
petty republics of Greece. At one time he is found in Corinth, and at
another in Athens, endeavouring, by the narration of some of his
wise fables, to reconcile the inhabitants of those cities to the
administration of their respective rulers Periander and Pisistratus. One
of these ambassadorial missions, undertaken at the command of Croesus,
was the occasion of his death. Having been sent to Delphi with a large
sum of gold for distribution among the citizens, he was so provoked at
their covetousness that he refused to divide the money, and sent it back
to his master. The Delphians, enraged at this treatment, accused him of
impiety, and, in spite of his sacred character as ambassador, executed
him as a public criminal. This cruel death of Aesop was not unavenged.
The citizens of Delphi were visited with a series of calamities, until
they made a public reparation of their crime; and, “The blood of Aesop”
 became a well-known adage, bearing witness to the truth that deeds of
wrong would not pass unpunished. Neither did the great fabulist lack
posthumous honors; for a statue was erected to his memory at Athens, the
work of Lysippus, one of the most famous of Greek sculptors. Phaedrus
thus immortalizes the event:

     Aesopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,
     Servumque collocarunt aeterna in basi:
     Patere honoris scirent ut cuncti viam;
     Nec generi tribui sed virtuti gloriam.

These few facts are all that can be relied on with any degree of
certainty, in reference to the birth, life, and death of Aesop. They
were first brought to light, after a patient search and diligent
perusal of ancient authors, by a Frenchman, M. Claude Gaspard Bachet de
Mezeriac, who declined the honor of being tutor to Louis XIII of
France, from his desire to devote himself exclusively to literature. He
published his Life of Aesop, Anno Domini 1632. The later investigations
of a host of English and German scholars have added very little to the
facts given by M. Mezeriac. The substantial truth of his statements has
been confirmed by later criticism and inquiry. It remains to state, that
prior to this publication of M. Mezeriac, the life of Aesop was from the
pen of Maximus Planudes, a monk of Constantinople, who was sent on an
embassy to Venice by the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus the elder, and who
wrote in the early part of the fourteenth century. His life was prefixed
to all the early editions of these fables, and was republished as late
as 1727 by Archdeacon Croxall as the introduction to his edition of
Aesop. This life by Planudes contains, however, so small an amount of
truth, and is so full of absurd pictures of the grotesque deformity
of Aesop, of wondrous apocryphal stories, of lying legends, and gross
anachronisms, that it is now universally condemned as false, puerile,
and unauthentic.[101] It is given up in the present day, by general
consent, as unworthy of the slightest credit. G.F.T.


THE TALE, the Parable, and the Fable are all common and popular modes
of conveying instruction. Each is distinguished by its own special
characteristics. The Tale consists simply in the narration of a story
either founded on facts, or created solely by the imagination, and
not necessarily associated with the teaching of any moral lesson. The
Parable is the designed use of language purposely intended to convey
a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained in the words
themselves; and which may or may not bear a special reference to the
hearer, or reader. The Fable partly agrees with, and partly differs
from both of these. It will contain, like the Tale, a short but real
narrative; it will seek, like the Parable, to convey a hidden meaning,
and that not so much by the use of language, as by the skilful
introduction of fictitious characters; and yet unlike to either Tale
or Parable, it will ever keep in view, as its high prerogative, and
inseparable attribute, the great purpose of instruction, and will
necessarily seek to inculcate some moral maxim, social duty, or
political truth. The true Fable, if it rise to its high requirements,
ever aims at one great end and purpose representation of human motive,
and the improvement of human conduct, and yet it so conceals its design
under the disguise of fictitious characters, by clothing with speech the
animals of the field, the birds of the air, the trees of the wood, or
the beasts of the forest, that the reader shall receive advice without
perceiving the presence of the adviser. Thus the superiority of the
counsellor, which often renders counsel unpalatable, is kept out of
view, and the lesson comes with the greater acceptance when the reader
is led, unconsciously to himself, to have his sympathies enlisted in
behalf of what is pure, honorable, and praiseworthy, and to have his
indignation excited against what is low, ignoble, and unworthy. The true
fabulist, therefore, discharges a most important function. He is neither
a narrator, nor an allegorist. He is a great teacher, a corrector of
morals, a censor of vice, and a commender of virtue. In this consists
the superiority of the Fable over the Tale or the Parable. The
fabulist is to create a laugh, but yet, under a merry guise, to convey
instruction. Phaedrus, the great imitator of Aesop, plainly indicates
this double purpose to be the true office of the writer of fables.

     Duplex libelli dos est: quod risum movet,
     Et quod prudenti vitam consilio monet.

The continual observance of this twofold aim creates the charm, and
accounts for the universal favor, of the fables of Aesop. “The fable,”
 says Professor K. O. Mueller, “originated in Greece in an intentional
travestie of human affairs. The ‘ainos,’ as its name denotes, is an
admonition, or rather a reproof veiled, either from fear of an excess
of frankness, or from a love of fun and jest, beneath the fiction of an
occurrence happening among beasts; and wherever we have any ancient and
authentic account of the Aesopian fables, we find it to be the same.”[1]

The construction of a fable involves a minute attention to (1) the
narration itself; (2) the deduction of the moral; and (3) a careful
maintenance of the individual characteristics of the fictitious
personages introduced into it. The narration should relate to one
simple action, consistent with itself, and neither be overladen with a
multiplicity of details, nor distracted by a variety of circumstances.
The moral or lesson should be so plain, and so intimately interwoven
with, and so necessarily dependent on, the narration, that every reader
should be compelled to give to it the same undeniable interpretation.
The introduction of the animals or fictitious characters should be
marked with an unexceptionable care and attention to their natural
attributes, and to the qualities attributed to them by universal popular
consent. The Fox should be always cunning, the Hare timid, the Lion
bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse proud, and the Ass
patient. Many of these fables are characterized by the strictest
observance of these rules. They are occupied with one short narrative,
from which the moral naturally flows, and with which it is intimately
associated. “‘Tis the simple manner,” says Dodsley,[2] “in which the
morals of Aesop are interwoven with his fables that distinguishes him,
and gives him the preference over all other mythologists. His ‘Mountain
delivered of a Mouse,’ produces the moral of his fable in ridicule of
pompous pretenders; and his Crow, when she drops her cheese, lets fall,
as it were by accident, the strongest admonition against the power of
flattery. There is no need of a separate sentence to explain it; no
possibility of impressing it deeper, by that load we too often see of
accumulated reflections.”[3] An equal amount of praise is due for the
consistency with which the characters of the animals, fictitiously
introduced, are marked. While they are made to depict the motives and
passions of men, they retain, in an eminent degree, their own special
features of craft or counsel, of cowardice or courage, of generosity or

These terms of praise, it must be confessed, cannot be bestowed on all
the fables in this collection. Many of them lack that unity of design,
that close connection of the moral with the narrative, that wise choice
in the introduction of the animals, which constitute the charm and
excellency of true Aesopian fable. This inferiority of some to others is
sufficiently accounted for in the history of the origin and descent
of these fables. The great bulk of them are not the immediate work of
Aesop. Many are obtained from ancient authors prior to the time in which
he lived. Thus, the fable of the “Hawk and the Nightingale” is related
by Hesiod;[4] the “Eagle wounded by an Arrow, winged with its own
Feathers,” by Aeschylus;[5] the “Fox avenging his wrongs on the Eagle,”
 by Archilochus.[6] Many of them again are of later origin, and are to be
traced to the monks of the middle ages: and yet this collection, though
thus made up of fables both earlier and later than the era of Aesop,
rightfully bears his name, because he composed so large a number (all
framed in the same mould, and conformed to the same fashion, and stamped
with the same lineaments, image, and superscription) as to secure to
himself the right to be considered the father of Greek fables, and the
founder of this class of writing, which has ever since borne his name,
and has secured for him, through all succeeding ages, the position of
the first of moralists.[7]

The fables were in the first instance only narrated by Aesop, and for a
long time were handed down by the uncertain channel of oral tradition.
Socrates is mentioned by Plato[8] as having employed his time while in
prison, awaiting the return of the sacred ship from Delphos which was to
be the signal of his death, in turning some of these fables into verse,
but he thus versified only such as he remembered. Demetrius Phalereus,
a philosopher at Athens about 300 B.C., is said to have made the first
collection of these fables. Phaedrus, a slave by birth or by subsequent
misfortunes, and admitted by Augustus to the honors of a freedman,
imitated many of these fables in Latin iambics about the commencement of
the Christian era. Aphthonius, a rhetorician of Antioch, A.D. 315, wrote
a treatise on, and converted into Latin prose, some of these fables.
This translation is the more worthy of notice, as it illustrates a
custom of common use, both in these and in later times. The rhetoricians
and philosophers were accustomed to give the Fables of Aesop as an
exercise to their scholars, not only inviting them to discuss the moral
of the tale, but also to practice and to perfect themselves thereby in
style and rules of grammar, by making for themselves new and various
versions of the fables. Ausonius,[9] the friend of the Emperor
Valentinian, and the latest poet of eminence in the Western Empire, has
handed down some of these fables in verse, which Julianus Titianus, a
contemporary writer of no great name, translated into prose. Avienus,
also a contemporary of Ausonius, put some of these fables into Latin
elegiacs, which are given by Nevelet (in a book we shall refer to
hereafter), and are occasionally incorporated with the editions of

Seven centuries elapsed before the next notice is found of the Fables
of Aesop. During this long period these fables seem to have suffered an
eclipse, to have disappeared and to have been forgotten; and it is at
the commencement of the fourteenth century, when the Byzantine emperors
were the great patrons of learning, and amidst the splendors of an
Asiatic court, that we next find honors paid to the name and memory
of Aesop. Maximus Planudes, a learned monk of Constantinople, made a
collection of about a hundred and fifty of these fables. Little is known
of his history. Planudes, however, was no mere recluse, shut up in his
monastery. He took an active part in public affairs. In 1327 A.D. he
was sent on a diplomatic mission to Venice by the Emperor Andronicus
the Elder. This brought him into immediate contact with the Western
Patriarch, whose interests he henceforth advocated with so much zeal as
to bring on him suspicion and persecution from the rulers of the Eastern
Church. Planudes has been exposed to a two-fold accusation. He is
charged on the one hand with having had before him a copy of Babrias
(to whom we shall have occasion to refer at greater length in the end of
this Preface), and to have had the bad taste “to transpose,” or to turn
his poetical version into prose: and he is asserted, on the other hand,
never to have seen the Fables of Aesop at all, but to have himself
invented and made the fables which he palmed off under the name of
the famous Greek fabulist. The truth lies between these two extremes.
Planudes may have invented some few fables, or have inserted some that
were current in his day; but there is an abundance of unanswerable
internal evidence to prove that he had an acquaintance with the
veritable fables of Aesop, although the versions he had access to
were probably corrupt, as contained in the various translations and
disquisitional exercises of the rhetoricians and philosophers. His
collection is interesting and important, not only as the parent source
or foundation of the earlier printed versions of Aesop, but as the
direct channel of attracting to these fables the attention of the

The eventual re-introduction, however, of these Fables of Aesop to their
high place in the general literature of Christendom, is to be looked for
in the West rather than in the East. The calamities gradually thickening
round the Eastern Empire, and the fall of Constantinople, 1453 A.D.
combined with other events to promote the rapid restoration of learning
in Italy; and with that recovery of learning the revival of an interest
in the Fables of Aesop is closely identified. These fables, indeed,
were among the first writings of an earlier antiquity that attracted
attention. They took their place beside the Holy Scriptures and the
ancient classic authors, in the minds of the great students of that day.
Lorenzo Valla, one of the most famous promoters of Italian learning,
not only translated into Latin the Iliad of Homer and the Histories of
Herodotus and Thucydides, but also the Fables of Aesop.

These fables, again, were among the books brought into an extended
circulation by the agency of the printing press. Bonus Accursius, as
early as 1475-1480, printed the collection of these fables, made by
Planudes, which, within five years afterwards, Caxton translated into
English, and printed at his press in West-minster Abbey, 1485.[10] It
must be mentioned also that the learning of this age has left
permanent traces of its influence on these fables,[11] by causing the
interpolation with them of some of those amusing stories which were so
frequently introduced into the public discourses of the great preachers
of those days, and of which specimens are yet to be found in the
extant sermons of Jean Raulin, Meffreth, and Gabriel Barlette.[12] The
publication of this era which most probably has influenced these fables,
is the “Liber Facetiarum,”[13] a book consisting of a hundred jests and
stories, by the celebrated Poggio Bracciolini, published A.D. 1471, from
which the two fables of the “Miller, his Son, and the Ass,” and the “Fox
and the Woodcutter,” are undoubtedly selected.

The knowledge of these fables rapidly spread from Italy into Germany,
and their popularity was increased by the favor and sanction given to
them by the great fathers of the Reformation, who frequently used them
as vehicles for satire and protest against the tricks and abuses of the
Romish ecclesiastics. The zealous and renowned Camerarius, who took an
active part in the preparation of the Confession of Augsburgh, found
time, amidst his numerous avocations, to prepare a version for the
students in the university of Tubingen, in which he was a professor.
Martin Luther translated twenty of these fables, and was urged by
Melancthon to complete the whole; while Gottfried Arnold, the celebrated
Lutheran theologian, and librarian to Frederick I, king of Prussia,
mentions that the great Reformer valued the Fables of Aesop next after
the Holy Scriptures. In 1546 A.D. the second printed edition of
the collection of the Fables made by Planudes, was issued from
the printing-press of Robert Stephens, in which were inserted some
additional fables from a MS. in the Bibliotheque du Roy at Paris.

The greatest advance, however, towards a re-introduction of the Fables
of Aesop to a place in the literature of the world, was made in the
early part of the seventeenth century. In the year 1610, a learned
Swiss, Isaac Nicholas Nevelet, sent forth the third printed edition of
these fables, in a work entitled “Mythologia Aesopica.” This was a
noble effort to do honor to the great fabulist, and was the most perfect
collection of Aesopian fables ever yet published. It consisted, in
addition to the collection of fables given by Planudes and reprinted in
the various earlier editions, of one hundred and thirty-six new fables
(never before published) from MSS. in the Library of the Vatican, of
forty fables attributed to Aphthonius, and of forty-three from Babrias.
It also contained the Latin versions of the same fables by Phaedrus,
Avienus, and other authors. This volume of Nevelet forms a complete
“Corpus Fabularum Aesopicarum;” and to his labors Aesop owes his
restoration to universal favor as one of the wise moralists and great
teachers of mankind. During the interval of three centuries which has
elapsed since the publication of this volume of Nevelet’s, no book, with
the exception of the Holy Scriptures, has had a wider circulation than
Aesop’s Fables. They have been translated into the greater number of the
languages both of Europe and of the East, and have been read, and
will be read, for generations, alike by Jew, Heathen, Mohammedan, and
Christian. They are, at the present time, not only engrafted into the
literature of the civilized world, but are familiar as household words
in the common intercourse and daily conversation of the inhabitants of
all countries.

This collection of Nevelet’s is the great culminating point in the
history of the revival of the fame and reputation of Aesopian Fables. It
is remarkable, also, as containing in its preface the germ of an idea,
which has been since proved to have been correct by a strange chain of
circumstances. Nevelet intimates an opinion, that a writer named Babrias
would be found to be the veritable author of the existing form of
Aesopian Fables. This intimation has since given rise to a series of
inquiries, the knowledge of which is necessary, in the present day, to a
full understanding of the true position of Aesop in connection with the
writings that bear his name.

The history of Babrias is so strange and interesting, that it might
not unfitly be enumerated among the curiosities of literature. He is
generally supposed to have been a Greek of Asia Minor, of one of the
Ionic Colonies, but the exact period in which he lived and wrote is
yet unsettled. He is placed, by one critic,[14] as far back as the
institution of the Achaian League, B.C. 250; by another as late as the
Emperor Severus, who died A.D. 235; while others make him a contemporary
with Phaedrus in the time of Augustus. At whatever time he wrote his
version of Aesop, by some strange accident it seems to have entirely
disappeared, and to have been lost sight of. His name is mentioned by
Avienus; by Suidas, a celebrated critic, at the close of the eleventh
century, who gives in his lexicon several isolated verses of his
version of the fables; and by John Tzetzes, a grammarian and poet of
Constantinople, who lived during the latter half of the twelfth century.
Nevelet, in the preface to the volume which we have described, points
out that the Fables of Planudes could not be the work of Aesop, as they
contain a reference in two places to “Holy monks,” and give a verse
from the Epistle of St. James as an “Epimith” to one of the fables, and
suggests Babrias as their author. Francis Vavassor,[15] a learned French
jesuit, entered at greater length on this subject, and produced further
proofs from internal evidence, from the use of the word Piraeus in
describing the harbour of Athens, a name which was not given till two
hundred years after Aesop, and from the introduction of other modern
words, that many of these fables must have been at least committed to
writing posterior to the time of Aesop, and more boldly suggests Babrias
as their author or collector.[16] These various references to Babrias
induced Dr. Plichard Bentley, at the close of the seventeenth century,
to examine more minutely the existing versions of Aesop’s Fables, and
he maintained that many of them could, with a slight change of words,
be resolved into the Scazonic[17] iambics, in which Babrias is known
to have written: and, with a greater freedom than the evidence then
justified, he put forth, in behalf of Babrias, a claim to the exclusive
authorship of these fables. Such a seemingly extravagant theory, thus
roundly asserted, excited much opposition. Dr. Bentley[18] met with an
able antagonist in a member of the University of Oxford, the Hon.
Mr. Charles Boyle,[19] afterwards Earl of Orrery. Their letters and
disputations on this subject, enlivened on both sides with much wit and
learning, will ever bear a conspicuous place in the literary history of
the seventeenth century. The arguments of Dr. Bentley were yet further
defended a few years later by Mr. Thomas Tyrwhitt, a well-read scholar,
who gave up high civil distinctions that he might devote himself the
more unreservedly to literary pursuits. Mr. Tyrwhitt published, A.D.
1776, a Dissertation on Babrias, and a collection of his fables in
choliambic meter found in a MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
Francesco de Furia, a learned Italian, contributed further testimony
to the correctness of the supposition that Babrias had made a veritable
collection of fables by printing from a MS. contained in the Vatican
library several fables never before published. In the year 1844,
however, new and unexpected light was thrown upon this subject. A
veritable copy of Babrias was found in a manner as singular as were the
MSS. of Quinctilian’s Institutes, and of Cicero’s Orations by Poggio in
the monastery of St. Gall A.D. 1416. M. Menoides, at the suggestion of
M. Villemain, Minister of Public Instruction to King Louis Philippe,
had been entrusted with a commission to search for ancient MSS., and
in carrying out his instructions he found a MS. at the convent of St.
Laura, on Mount Athos, which proved to be a copy of the long suspected
and wished-for choliambic version of Babrias. This MS. was found to be
divided into two books, the one containing a hundred and twenty-five,
and the other ninety-five fables. This discovery attracted very general
attention, not only as confirming, in a singular manner, the conjectures
so boldly made by a long chain of critics, but as bringing to light
valuable literary treasures tending to establish the reputation, and
to confirm the antiquity and authenticity of the great mass of Aesopian
Fable. The Fables thus recovered were soon published. They found a most
worthy editor in the late distinguished Sir George Cornewall Lewis,
and a translator equally qualified for his task, in the Reverend James
Davies, M.A., sometime a scholar of Lincoln College, Oxford, and himself
a relation of their English editor. Thus, after an eclipse of many
centuries, Babrias shines out as the earliest, and most reliable
collector of veritable Aesopian Fables.

The following are the sources from which the present translation has
been prepared:

   Babrii Fabulae Aesopeae. George Cornewall Lewis. Oxford, 1846.

   Babrii Fabulae Aesopeae. E codice manuscripto partem secundam edidit.
   George Cornewall Lewis. London: Parker, 1857.

   Mythologica Aesopica. Opera et studia Isaaci Nicholai Neveleti.
   Frankfort, 1610.

   Fabulae Aesopiacae, quales ante Planudem ferebantur cura et studio
   Francisci de Furia. Lipsiae, 1810.

   ------. Ex recognitione Caroli Halmii. Lipsiae, Phaedri Fabulae Esopiae.
   Delphin Classics. 1822.



[Footnote 101: M. Bayle thus characterises this Life of Aesop by
Planudes, “Tous les habiles gens conviennent que c’est un roman, et que
les absurdites grossieres qui l’on y trouve le rendent indigne de
toute.” Dictionnaire Historique. Art. Esope.]

[Footnote 1: A History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, by K. O.
Mueller. Vol. i, p. 191. London, Parker, 1858.]

[Footnote 2: Select Fables of Aesop, and other Fabulists. In three
books, translated by Robert Dodsley, accompanied with a selection of
notes, and an Essay on Fable. Birmingham, 1864. P. 60.]

[Footnote 3: Some of these fables had, no doubt, in the first instance,
a primary and private interpretation. On the first occasion of their
being composed they were intended to refer to some passing event, or to
some individual acts of wrong-doing. Thus, the fables of the “Eagle and
the Fox” and of the “Fox and Monkey” are supposed to have been written
by Archilochus, to avenge the injuries done him by Lycambes. So also the
fables of the “Swollen Fox” and of the “Frogs asking a King” were spoken
by Aesop for the immediate purpose of reconciling the inhabitants of
Samos and Athens to their respective rulers, Periander and Pisistratus;
while the fable of the “Horse and Stag” was composed to caution the
inhabitants of Himera against granting a bodyguard to Phalaris. In a
similar manner, the fable from Phaedrus, the “Marriage of the Sun,” is
supposed to have reference to the contemplated union of Livia, the
daughter of Drusus, with Sejanus the favourite, and minister of Trajan.
These fables, however, though thus originating in special events, and
designed at first to meet special circumstances, are so admirably
constructed as to be fraught with lessons of general utility, and of
universal application.]

[Footnote 4: Hesiod. Opera et Dies, verse 202.]

[Footnote 5: Aeschylus. Fragment of the Myrmidons. Aeschylus speaks of
this fable as existing before his day. See Scholiast on the Aves of
Aristophanes, line 808.]

[Footnote 6: Fragment. 38, ed. Gaisford. See also Mueller’s History of
the Literature of Ancient Greece, vol. i. pp. 190-193.]

[Footnote 7: M. Bayle has well put this in his account of Aesop. “Il n’y
a point d’apparence que les fables qui portent aujourd’hui son nom
soient les memes qu’il avait faites; elles viennent bien de lui pour la
plupart, quant a la matiere et la pensee; mais les paroles sont d’un
autre.” And again, “C’est donc a Hesiode, que j’aimerais mieux attribuer
la gloire de l’invention; mais sans doute il laissa la chose tres
imparfaite. Esope la perfectionne si heureusement, qu’on l’a regarde
comme le vrai pere de cette sorte de production.” M. Bayle. Dictionnaire

[Footnote 8: Plato in Phoedone.]

[Footnote 9:

  Apologos en! misit tibi Ab usque Rheni limite Ausonius nomen Italum
  Praeceptor Augusti tui Aesopiam trimetriam; Quam vertit exili stylo
  Pedestre concinnans opus Fandi Titianus artifex. Ausonii Epistola, xvi.

[Footnote 10: Both these publications are in the British Museum, and are
placed in the library in cases under glass, for the inspection of the

[Footnote 11: Fables may possibly have been not entirely unknown to the
mediaeval scholars. There are two celebrated works which might by some
be classed amongst works of this description. The one is the “Speculum
Sapientiae,” attributed to St. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, but of a
considerably later origin, and existing only in Latin. It is divided
into four books, and consists of long conversations conducted by
fictitious characters under the figures the beasts of the field and
forest, and aimed at the rebuke of particular classes of men, the
boastful, the proud, the luxurious, the wrathful, &c. None of the
stories are precisely those of Aesop, and none have the concinnity,
terseness, and unmistakable deduction of the lesson intended to be
taught by the fable, so conspicuous in the great Greek fabulist. The
exact title of the book is this: “Speculum Sapientiae, B. Cyrilli
Episcopi: alias quadripartitus apologeticus vocatus, in cujus quidem
proverbiis omnis et totius sapientiae speculum claret et feliciter
incipit.” The other is a larger work in two volumes, published in the
fourteenth century by Caesar Heisterbach, a Cistercian monk, under the
title of “Dialogus Miraculorum,” reprinted in 1851. This work consists
of conversations in which many stories are interwoven on all kinds of
subjects. It has no correspondence with the pure Aesopian fable.]

[Footnote 12: Post-medieval Preachers, by S. Baring-Gould. Rivingtons,

[Footnote 13: For an account of this work see the Life of Poggio
Bracciolini, by the Rev. William Shepherd. Liverpool. 1801.]

[Footnote 14: Professor Theodore Bergh. See Classical Museum, No. viii.
July, 1849.]

[Footnote 15: Vavassor’s treatise, entitled “De Ludicra Dictione” was
written A.D. 1658, at the request of the celebrated M. Balzac (though
published after his death), for the purpose of showing that the
burlesque style of writing adopted by Scarron and D’Assouci, and at that
time so popular in France, had no sanction from the ancient classic
writers. Francisci Vavassoris opera omnia. Amsterdam. 1709.]

[Footnote 16: The claims of Babrias also found a warm advocate in the
learned Frenchman, M. Bayle, who, in his admirable dictionary,
(Dictionnaire Historique et Critique de Pierre Bayle. Paris, 1820,)
gives additional arguments in confirmation of the opinions of his
learned predecessors, Nevelet and Vavassor.]

[Footnote 17: Scazonic, or halting, iambics; a choliambic (a lame,
halting iambic) differs from the iambic Senarius in always having a
spondee or trichee for its last foot; the fifth foot, to avoid shortness
of meter, being generally an iambic. See Fables of Babrias, translated
by Rev. James Davies. Lockwood, 1860. Preface, p. 27.]

[Footnote 18: See Dr. Bentley’s Dissertations upon the Epistles of

[Footnote 19: Dr. Bentley’s Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris,
and Fables of Aesop examined. By the Honorable Charles Boyle.]

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