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
It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.
The Ass and the Grasshopper
AN ASS having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted;
and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what sort of
food they lived on to give them such beautiful voices. They replied, "The
dew." The Ass resolved that he would live only upon dew, and in a short
time died of hunger.
The Lion and the Mouse
A LION was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face.
Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse
piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life, I would be
sure to repay your kindness." The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened
shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him
by st ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed
the rope with his teeth, and set him free, exclaim
"You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, expecting
to receive from me any repayment of your favor; I now you know that it is
possible for even a Mouse to con benefits on 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
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 merrily."
Hercules and the Wagoner
A CARTER was driving a wagon along a country lane, when the wheels
sank down deep into a rut. The rustic driver, stupefied and aghast, stood
looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to
come and help him. Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him:
"Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man. Goad on your bullocks, and
never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help
yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain."
Self-help is the best help.
The Ants and the Grasshopper
THE ANTS were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in
the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and
earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you
not treasure up food during the summer?' He replied, "I had not leisure
enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you
were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to
bed in the 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 disputings."
The Farmer and the Stork
A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a number
of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a Stork
that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the
Farmer to spare his life. "Pray save me, Master," he said, "and let me go
free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no
Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and
slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers-they are not the
least like those of a Crane." The Farmer laughed aloud and said, "It may
be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers,
the Cranes, and you must die in their company."
Birds of a feather flock together.
The Farmer and the Snake
ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had
compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The Snake was
quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its
benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. "Oh," cried the Farmer with
his last breath, "I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel."
The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.
The Fawn and His Mother
A YOUNG FAWN once said to his Mother, "You are larger than a dog, and
swifter, and more used to running, and you have your horns as a defense;
why, then, O Mother! do the hounds frighten you so?" She smiled, and said:
"I know full well, my son, that all you say is true. I have the advantages
you mention, but when I hear even the bark of a single dog I feel ready to
faint, and fly away as fast as I can."
No arguments will give courage to the coward.
The Bear and the Fox
A BEAR boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that of all
animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had such
respect for him that he would not even touch his dead body. A Fox hearing
these words said with a smile to the Bear, "Oh! that you would eat the
dead and not the living."
The Swallow and the Crow
THE SWALLOW and the Crow had a contention about their plumage. The
Crow put an end to the dispute by saying, "Your feathers are all very well
in the spring, but mine protect me against the 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
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
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.
The Oxen and the Axle-Trees
A HEAVY WAGON was being dragged along a country lane by a team of
Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; whereupon the Oxen,
turning round, thus addressed the wheels: "Hullo there! why do you make so
much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out."
Those who suffer most cry out the least.
The Thirsty Pigeon
A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water
painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew
towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard,
jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to
the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.
Zeal should not outrun discretion.
The Raven and the Swan
A RAVEN saw a Swan and desired to secure for himself the same
beautiful plumage. Supposing that the Swan's splendid white color arose
from his washing in the water in which he swam, the Raven left the altars
in the neighborhood where he picked up his living, and took up residence
in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he would,
he could not change their color, while through want of food he perished.
Change of habit cannot alter Nature.
The Goat and the Goatherd
A GOATHERD had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock. He
whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention to
the summons. At last the Goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its horn,
begged the Goat not to tell his master. The Goat replied, "Why, you silly
fellow, the horn will speak though I be silent."
Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.
A MISER sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he
buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and went to look
at daily. One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot and
decided to watch his movements. He soon discovered the secret of the
hidden treasure, and digging down, came to the lump of gold, and stole it.
The Miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his
hair and to make loud lamentations. A neighbor, seeing him overcome with
grief and learning the cause, said, "Pray do not grieve so; but go and
take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the gold is still
lying there. It will do you quite the same service; for when the gold was
there, you had it not, as you did not make the slightest use of it."
The Sick Lion
A LION, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with
food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned to his den, and
lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness
should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one
by one to his den, where the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts
had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself
to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance,
and asked him how he was. "I am very middling," replied the Lion, "but why
do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me." "No, thank you,"
said the Fox. "I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your
cave, but I see no trace of any returning."
He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.
The Horse and Groom
A GROOM used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his
Horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for his own
profit. "Alas!" said the Horse, "if you really wish me to be in good
condition, you should groom me less, and feed me 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!"
A CONTROVERSY prevailed among the beasts of the field as to which of
the animals deserved the most credit for producing the greatest number of
whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously into the presence of the
Lioness and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute. "And you," they
said, "how many sons have you at a birth?' The Lioness laughed at them,
and said: "Why! I have only one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred
The value is in the worth, not in the number.
The Boasting Traveler
A MAN who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, on
returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic feats he
had performed in the different places he had visited. Among other things,
he said that when he was at Rhodes he had leaped to such a distance that
no man of his day could leap anywhere near him as to that, there were in
Rhodes many persons who saw him do it and whom he could call as witnesses.
One of the bystanders interrupted him, saying: "Now, my good man, if this
be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be Rhodes, and
leap for us."
The Cat and the Cock
A CAT caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable
excuse for eating him. He accused him of being a nuisance to men by
crowing in the nighttime and not permitting them to sleep. The Cock
defended himself by saying that he did this for the benefit of men, that
they might rise in time for their labors. The Cat replied, "Although you
abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless"; and he made
a meal of him.
The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat
A YOUNG PIG was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and a Sheep. On
one occasion when the shepherd laid hold of him, he grunted and squeaked
and resisted violently. The Sheep and the Goat complained of his
distressing cries, saying, "He often handles us, and we do not cry out."
To this the Pig replied, "Your handling and mine are very different
things. He catches you only for your wool, or your milk, but he lays hold
on me for my very 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 hand."
Do not attempt too much at once.
The Lion in Love
A LION demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in marriage. The Father,
unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to refuse his request, hit upon this
expedient to rid himself of his importunities. He expressed his
willingness to accept the Lion as the suitor of his daughter on one
condition: that he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off his
claws, as his daughter was fearfully afraid of both. The Lion cheerfully
assented to the proposal. But when the toothless, clawless Lion returned
to repeat his request, the Woodman, no longer afraid, set upon him with
his club, and drove him away into the forest.
The Laborer and the Snake
A SNAKE, having made his hole close to the porch of a cottage,
inflicted a mortal bite on the Cottager's infant son. Grieving over his
loss, the Father resolved to kill the Snake. The next day, when it came
out of its hole for food, he took up his axe, but by swinging too hastily,
missed its head and cut off only the end of its tail. After some time the
Cottager, afraid that the Snake would bite him also, endeavored to make
peace, and placed some bread and salt in the hole. The Snake, slightly
hissing, said: "There can henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever
I see you I shall remember the loss of my tail, and whenever you see me
you will be thinking of the death of your son."
No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him who caused the
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
ONCE UPON A TIME a Wolf resolved to disguise his appearance in order
to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured
with the flock deceiving the shepherd by his costume. In the evening he
was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the
entrance made thoroughly secure. But the shepherd, returning to the fold
during the night to obtain meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the
Wolf instead of a sheep, and killed him instantly.
Harm seek. harm find.
The Ass and the Mule
A MULETEER set forth on a journey, driving before him an Ass and a
Mule, both well laden. The Ass, as long as he traveled along the plain,
carried his load with ease, but when he began to ascend the steep path of
the mountain, felt his load to be more than he could bear. He entreated
his companion to relieve him of a small portion, that he might carry home
the rest; but the Mule paid no attention to the request. The Ass shortly
afterwards fell down dead under his burden. Not knowing what else to do in
so wild a region, the Muleteer placed upon the Mule the load carried by
the Ass in addition to his own, and at the top of all placed the hide of
the Ass, after he had skinned him. The Mule, groaning beneath his heavy
burden, said to himself: "I am treated according to my deserts. If I had
only been willing to assist the Ass a little in his need, I should not now
be bearing, together with his burden, himself as well."
The Frogs Asking for a King
THE FROGS, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent ambassadors
to Jupiter entreating for a King. Perceiving their simplicity, he cast
down a huge log into the lake. The Frogs were terrified at the splash
occasioned by its fall and hid themselves in the depths of the pool. But
as soon as they realized that the huge log was motionless, they swam again
to the top of the water, dismissed their fears, climbed up, and began
squatting on it in contempt. After some time they began to think
themselves ill-treated in the appointment of so inert a Ruler, and sent a
second deputation to Jupiter to pray that he would set over them another
sovereign. He then gave them an Eel to govern them. When the Frogs
discovered his easy good nature, they sent yet a third time to Jupiter to
beg him to choose for them still another King. Jupiter, displeased with
all their complaints, sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day
till there were none left to croak upon the lake.
The Boys and the Frogs
SOME BOYS, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs in the water
and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of them, when one
of the Frogs, lifting his head out of the water, cried out: "Pray stop, my
boys: what is sport to you, is death to 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
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 dog."
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 head.
Those who seek to please everybody please nobody.
AN ASTRONOMER used to go out at night to observe the stars. One
evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed
on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented and
bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran
to the well, and learning what had happened said: "Hark ye, old fellow,
why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see
what is on 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 pleasure.
The Old Woman and the Physician
AN OLD WOMAN having lost the use of her eyes, called in a Physician
to heal them, and made this bargain with him in the presence of witnesses:
that if he should cure her blindness, he should receive from her a sum of
money; but if her infirmity remained, she should give him nothing. This
agreement being made, the Physician, time after time, applied his salve to
her eyes, and on every visit took something away, stealing all her
property little by little. And when he had got all she had, he healed her
and demanded the promised payment. The Old Woman, when she recovered her
sight and saw none of her goods in her house, would give him nothing. The
Physician insisted on his claim, and. as she still refused, summoned her
before the Judge. The Old Woman, standing up in the Court, argued: "This
man here speaks the truth in what he says; for I did promise to give him a
sum of money if I should recover my sight: but if I continued blind, I was
to give him nothing. Now he declares that I am healed. I on the contrary
affirm that I am still blind; for when I lost the use of my eyes, I saw in
my house various chattels and valuable goods: but now, though he swears I
am cured of my blindness, I am not able to see a single thing in it."
The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle
TWO GAME COCKS were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the
farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished Cock skulked
away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up to
a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed exultingly with all his might.
An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon him and carried him off in
his talons. The vanquished Cock immediately came out of his corner, and
ruled henceforth with undisputed mastery.
Pride goes before destruction.
The Charger and the Miller
A CHARGER, feeling the infirmities of age, was sent to work in a mill
instead of going out to battle. But when he was compelled to grind instead
of serving in the wars, he bewailed his change of fortune and called to
mind his former state, saying, "Ah! Miller, I had indeed to go campaigning
before, but I was barbed from counter to tail, and a man went along to
groom me; and now I cannot understand what ailed me to prefer the mill
before the battle." "Forbear," said the Miller to him, "harping on what
was of yore, for it is the common lot of mortals to sustain the ups and
downs of fortune."
The Fox and the Monkey
A MONKEY once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased
them all by his performance that they elected him their King. A Fox,
envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and
leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said that she had found a
store, but had not used it e 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
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
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
The Thief and His Mother
A BOY stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it
home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but
encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she
again commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal
things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and
having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public
execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast
in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, "I wish to say something to my
Mother in her ear." She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear
with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural
child, whereon he replied, "Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole
and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor
have been thus led to a disgraceful death."
The Old Man and Death
AN OLD MAN was employed in cutting wood in the forest, and, in
carrying the faggots to the city for sale one day, became very wearied
with his long journey. He sat down by the wayside, and throwing down his
load, besought "Death" to come. "Death" immediately appeared in answer to
his summons and asked for what reason he had called him. The Old Man
hurriedly replied, "That, lifting up the load, you may place it again upon
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
The Two Pots
A RIVER carried down in its stream two Pots, one made of earthenware
and the other of brass. The Earthen Pot said to the Brass Pot, "Pray keep
at a distance and do not come near me, for if you touch me ever so
slightly, I shall be broken in pieces, and besides, I by no means wish to
come near you."
Equals make the best friends.
The Wolf and the Sheep
A WOLF, sorely wounded and bitten by dogs, lay sick and maimed in his
lair. Being in want of food, he called to a Sheep who was passing, and
asked him to fetch some water from a stream flowing close beside him.
"For," he said, "if you will bring me drink, I will find means to provide
myself with meat." "Yes," said the Sheep, "if I should bring you the
draught, you would doubtless make me provide the meat also."
Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.
THE PURCHASER of a black servant was persuaded that the color of his
skin arose from dirt contracted through the neglect of his former masters.
On bringing him home he resorted to every means of cleaning, and subjected
the man to incessant scrubbings. The servant caught a severe cold, but he
never changed his color or 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 wanting."
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 Vultures."
The One-Eyed Doe
A DOE blind in one eye was accustomed to graze as near to the edge of
the cliff as she possibly could, in the hope of securing her greater
safety. She turned her sound eye towards the land that she might get the
earliest tidings of the approach of hunter or hound, and her injured eye
towards the sea, from whence she entertained no anticipation of danger.
Some boatmen sailing by saw her, and taking a successful aim, mortally
wounded her. Yielding up her last breath, she gasped forth this lament: "O
wretched creature that I am! to take such precaution against the land, and
after all to find this seashore, to which I had come for safety, so much
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 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 leather."
Every man for himself.
The Master and His Dogs
A CERTAIN MAN, detained by a storm in his country house, first of all
killed his sheep, and then his goats, for the maintenance of his
household. The storm still continuing, he was obliged to slaughter his
yoke oxen for food. On seeing this, his Dogs took counsel together, and
said, "It is time for us to be off, for if the master spare not his oxen,
who work for his gain, how can we expect him to spare us?'
He is not to be trusted as a friend who mistreats his own family.
The Wolf and the Shepherds
A WOLF, passing by, saw some Shepherds in a hut eating a haunch of
mutton for their dinner. Approaching them, he said, "What a clamor you
would raise if I were to do as you are doing!"
The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat
THE DOLPHINS and Whales waged a fierce war with each other. When the
battle was at its height, a Sprat lifted its head out of the waves and
said that he would reconcile their differences if they would accept him as
an umpire. One of the Dolphins replied, "We would far rather be destroyed
in our battle with each other than admit any interference from you in our
The Ass Carrying the Image
AN ASS once carried through the streets of a city a famous wooden
Image, to be placed in one of its Temples. As he passed along, the crowd
made lowly prostration before the Image. The Ass, thinking that they bowed
their heads in token of respect for himself, bristled up with pride, gave
himself airs, and refused to move another step. The driver, seeing him
thus stop, laid his whip lustily about his shoulders and said, "O you
perverse dull-head! it is not yet come to this, that men pay worship to an
They are not wise who give to themselves the credit due to 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 death."
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
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
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
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
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 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
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 mischief."
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
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?
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
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
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 serve?'
In a change of government the poor change nothing beyond the name of
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.
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 together."
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
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
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
Every tale is not to be believed.
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 me."
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."
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."
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
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
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 companions.
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 Wolf?'
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
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
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 fear."
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 slow."
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 downso 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
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
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
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
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
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 birdlime, 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
The Ass in the Lion's Skin
AN ASS, having put on the Lion's skin, roamed about in the forest and
amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met in his
wanderings. At last coming upon a Fox, he tried to frighten him also, but
the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, "I might
possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray."
The Sparrow and the Hare
A HARE pounced upon by an eagle sobbed very much and uttered cries
like a child. A Sparrow upbraided her and said, "Where now is thy
remarkable swiftness of foot? Why were your feet so slow?" While the
Sparrow was thus speaking, a hawk suddenly seized him and killed him. The
Hare was comforted in her death, and expiring said, "Ah! you who so
lately, when you supposed yourself safe, exulted over my calamity, have
now reason to deplore a similar misfortune."
The Flea and the Ox
A FLEA thus questioned an Ox: "What ails you, that being so huge and
strong, you submit to the wrongs you receive from men and slave for them
day by day, while I, being so small a creature, mercilessly feed on their
flesh and drink their blood without stint?' The Ox replied: "I do not wish
to be ungrateful, for I am loved and well cared for by men, and they often
pat my head and shoulders." "Woe's me!" said the flea; "this very patting
which you like, whenever it happens to me, brings with it my inevitable
The Goods and the Ills
ALL the Goods were once driven out by the Ills from that common share
which they each had in the affairs of mankind; for the Ills by reason of
their numbers had prevailed to possess the earth. The Goods wafted
themselves to heaven and asked for a righteous vengeance on their
persecutors. They entreated Jupiter that they might no longer be
associated with the Ills, as they had nothing in common and could not live
together, but were engaged in unceasing warfare; and that an indissoluble
law might be laid down for their future protection. Jupiter granted their
request and decreed that henceforth the Ills should visit the earth in
company with each other, but that the Goods should one by one enter the
habitations of men. Hence it arises that Ills abound, for they come not
one by one, but in troops, and by no means singly: while the Goods proceed
from Jupiter, and are given, not alike to all, but singly, and separately;
and one by one to those who are able to discern them.
The Dove and the Crow
A DOVE shut up in a cage was boasting of the large number of young
ones which she had hatched. A Crow hearing her, said: "My good friend,
cease from this unseasonable boasting. The larger the number of your
family, the greater your cause of sorrow, in seeing them shut up in this
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
Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and Momus
ACCORDING to an ancient legend, the first man was made by Jupiter,
the first bull by Neptune, and the first house by Minerva. On the
completion of their labors, a dispute arose as to which had made the most
perfect work. They agreed to appoint Momus as judge, and to abide by his
decision. Momus, however, being very envious of the handicraft of each,
found fault with all. He first blamed the work of Neptune because he had
not made the horns of the bull below his eyes, so he might better see
where to strike. He then condemned the work of Jupiter, because he had not
placed the heart of man on the outside, that everyone might read the
thoughts of the evil disposed and take precautions against the intended
mischief. And, lastly, he inveighed against Minerva because she had not
contrived iron wheels in the foundation of her house, so its inhabitants
might more easily remove if a neighbor proved unpleasant. Jupiter,
indignant at such inveterate faultfinding, drove him from his office of
judge, and expelled him from the mansions of Olympus.
The Eagle and the Fox
AN EAGLE and a Fox formed an intimate friendship and decided to live
near each other. The Eagle built her nest in the branches of a tall tree,
while the Fox crept into the underwood and there produced her young. Not
long after they had agreed upon this plan, the Eagle, being in want of
provision for her young ones, swooped down while the Fox was out, seized
upon one of the little cubs, and feasted herself and her brood. The Fox on
her return, discovered what had happened, but was less grieved for the
death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just
retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near an
altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly
seized a piece of the flesh, and carried it, along with a burning cinder,
to her nest. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the
eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and
dropped down dead at the bottom of the tree. There, in the sight of the
Eagle, the Fox gobbled them up.
The Man and the Satyr
A MAN and a Satyr once drank together in token of a bond of alliance
being formed between them. One very cold wintry day, as they talked, the
Man put his fingers to his mouth and blew on them. When the Satyr asked
the reason for this, he told him that he did it to warm his hands because
they were so cold. Later on in the day they sat down to eat, and the food
prepared was quite scalding. The Man raised one of the dishes a little
towards his mouth and blew in it. When the Satyr again inquired the
reason, he said that he did it to cool the meat, which was too hot. "I can
no longer consider you as a friend," said the Satyr, "a fellow who with
the same breath blows hot and cold."
The Ass and His Purchaser
A MAN wished to purchase an Ass, and agreed with its owner that he
should try out the animal before he bought him. He took the Ass home and
put him in the straw-yard with his other Asses, upon which the new animal
left all the others and at once joined the one that was most idle and the
greatest eater of them all. Seeing this, the man put a halter on him and
led him back to his owner. On being asked how, in so short a time, he
could have made a trial of him, he answered, "I do not need a trial; I
know that he will be just the same as the one he chose for his companion."
A man is known by the company he keeps.
The Two Bags
EVERY MAN, according to an ancient legend, is born into the world
with two bags suspended from his neck all bag in front full of his
neighbors' faults, and a large bag behind filled with his own faults.
Hence it is that men are quick to see the faults of others, and yet are
often blind to their own failings.
The Stag at the Pool
A STAG overpowered by heat came to a spring to drink. Seeing his own
shadow reflected in the water, he greatly admired the size and variety of
his horns, but felt angry with himself for having such slender and weak
feet. While he was thus contemplating himself, a Lion appeared at the pool
and crouched to spring upon him. The Stag immediately took to flight, and
exerting his utmost speed, as long as the plain was smooth and open kept
himself easily at a safe distance from the Lion. But entering a wood he
became entangled by his horns, and the Lion quickly came up to him and
caught him. When too late, he thus reproached himself: "Woe is me! How I
have deceived myself! These feet which would have saved me I despised, and
I gloried in these antlers which have proved my destruction."
What is most truly valuable is often underrated.
The Jackdaw and the Fox
A HALF-FAMISHED JACKDAW seated himself on a fig-tree, which had
produced some fruit entirely out of season, and waited in the hope that
the figs would ripen. A Fox seeing him sitting so long and learning the
reason of his doing so, said to him, "You are indeed, sir, sadly deceiving
yourself; you are indulging a hope strong enough to cheat you, but which
will never reward you with enjoyment."
The Lark Burying Her Father
THE LARK (according to an ancient legend) was created before the
earth itself, and when her father died, as there was no earth, she could
find no place of burial for him. She let him lie uninterred for five days,
and on the sixth day, not knowing what else to do, she buried him in her
own head. Hence she obtained her crest, which is popularly said to be her
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
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
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
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."
A MAN committed a murder, and was pursued by the relations of the man
whom he murdered. On his reaching the river Nile he saw a Lion on its bank
and being fearfully afraid, climbed up a tree. He found a serpent in the
upper branches of the tree, and again being greatly alarmed, he threw
himself into the river, where a crocodile caught him and ate him. Thus the
earth, the air, and the water alike refused shelter to a murderer.
The Lion and the Fox
A FOX entered into partnership with a Lion on the pretense of
becoming his servant. Each undertook his proper duty in accordance with
his own nature and powers. The Fox discovered and pointed out the prey;
the Lion sprang on it and seized it. The Fox soon became jealous of the
Lion carrying off the Lion's share, and said that he would no longer find
out the prey, but would capture it on his own account. The next day he
attempted to snatch a lamb from the fold, but he himself fell prey to the
huntsmen and hounds.
The Lion and the Eagle
AN EAGLE stayed his flight and entreated a Lion to make an alliance
with him to their mutual advantage. The Lion replied, "I have no
objection, but you must excuse me for requiring you to find surety for
your good faith, for how can I trust anyone as a friend who is able to fly
away from his bargain whenever he pleases?'
Try before you trust.
The Hen and the Swallow
A HEN finding the eggs of a viper and carefully keeping them warm,
nourished them into life. A Swallow, observing what she had done, said,
"You silly creature! why have you hatched these vipers which, when they
shall have grown, will inflict injury on all, beginning with yourself?'
The Buffoon and the Countryman
A RICH NOBLEMAN once opened the theaters without charge to the
people, and gave a public notice that he would handsomely reward any
person who invented a new amusement for the occasion. Various public
performers contended for the prize. Among them came a Buffoon well known
among the populace for his jokes, and said that he had a kind of
entertainment which had never been brought out on any stage before. This
report being spread about made a great stir, and the theater was crowded
in every part. The Buffoon appeared alone upon the platform, without any
apparatus or confederates, and the very sense of expectation caused an
intense silence. He suddenly bent his head towards his bosom and imitated
the squeaking of a little pig so admirably with his voice that the
audience declared he had a porker under his cloak, and demanded that it
should be shaken out. When that was done and nothing was found, they
cheered the actor, and loaded him with the loudest applause. A Countryman
in the crowd, observing all that has passed, said, "So help me, Hercules,
he shall not beat me at that trick!" and at once proclaimed that he would
do the same thing on the next day, though in a much more natural way. On
the morrow a still larger crowd assembled in the theater, but now
partiality for their favorite actor very generally prevailed, and the
audience came rather to ridicule the Countryman than to see the spectacle.
Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted and
squeaked away first, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the applause
and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman commenced, and
pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his clothes (which in
truth he did, but not suspected by the audience ) contrived to take hold
of and to pull his ear causing the pig to squeak. The Crowd, however,
cried out with one consent that the Buffoon had given a far more exact
imitation, and clamored for the Countryman to be kicked out of the
theater. On this the rustic produced the little pig from his cloak and
showed by the most positive proof the greatness of their mistake. "Look
here," he said, "this shows what sort of judges you are."
The Crow and the Serpent
A CROW in great want of food saw a Serpent asleep in a sunny nook,
and flying down, greedily seized him. The Serpent, turning about, bit the
Crow with a mortal wound. In the agony of death, the bird exclaimed: "O
unhappy me! who have found in that which I deemed a happy windfall the
source of my destruction."
The Hunter and the Horseman
A CERTAIN HUNTER, having snared a hare, placed it upon his shoulders
and set out homewards. On his way he met a man on horseback who begged the
hare of him, under the pretense of purchasing it. However, when the
Horseman got the hare, he rode off as fast as he could. The Hunter ran
after him, as if he was sure of overtaking him, but the Horseman increased
more and more the distance between them. The Hunter, sorely against his
will, called out to him and said, "Get along with you! for I will now make
you a present of the hare."
The King's Son and the Painted Lion
A KING, whose only son was fond of martial exercises, had a dream in
which he was warned that his son would be killed by a lion. Afraid the
dream should prove true, he built for his son a pleasant palace and
adorned its walls for his amusement with all kinds of life-sized animals,
among which was the picture of a lion. When the young Prince saw this, his
grief at being thus confined burst out afresh, and, standing near the
lion, he said: "O you most detestable of animals! through a lying dream of
my father's, which he saw in his sleep, I am shut up on your account in
this palace as if I had been a girl: what shall I now do to you?' With
these words he stretched out his hands toward a thorn-tree, meaning to cut
a stick from its branches so that he might beat the lion. But one of the
tree's prickles pierced his finger and caused great pain and inflammation,
so that the young Prince fell down in a fainting fit. A violent fever
suddenly set in, from which he died not many days later.
We had better bear our troubles bravely than try to escape them.
The Cat and Venus
A CAT fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to
change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and
transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the youth saw her and
loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in
their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape
had also altered her habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the
room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the
couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much
disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.
Nature exceeds nurture.
The She-Goats and Their Beards
THE SHE-GOATS having obtained a beard by request to Jupiter, the
He-Goats were sorely displeased and made complaint that the females
equaled them in dignity. "Allow them," said Jupiter, "to enjoy an empty
honor and to assume the badge of your nobler sex, so long as they are not
your equals in strength or courage."
It matters little if those who are inferior to us in merit should be
like us in outside appearances.
The Camel and the Arab
AN ARAB CAMEL-DRIVER, after completing the loading of his Camel,
asked him which he would like best, to go up hill or down. The poor beast
replied, not without a touch of reason: "Why do you ask me? Is it that the
level way through the desert is closed?"
The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
A MILLER and his son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair to
sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of women
collected round a well, talking and laughing. "Look there," cried one of
them, "did you ever see such fellows, to be trudging along the road on
foot when they might ride?' The old man hearing this, quickly made his son
mount the Ass, and continued to walk along merrily by his side. Presently
they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There," said one of
them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in
these days? Do you see that idle lad riding while his old father has to
walk? Get down, you young scapegrace, and let the old man rest his weary
limbs." Upon this the old man made his son dismount, and got up himself.
In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women
and children: "Why, you lazy old fellow," cried several tongues at once,
"how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can
hardly keep pace by the side of you?' The good-natured Miller immediately
took up his son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray,
honest friend," said a citizen, "is that Ass your own?' "Yes," replied the
old man. "O, one would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way
you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast
than he you." "Anything to please you," said the old man; "we can but try."
So, alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the Ass together and
with the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a
bridge near the entrance to the town. This entertaining sight brought the
people in crowds to laugh at it, till the Ass, not liking the noise nor
the strange handling that he was subject to, broke the cords that bound
him and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river. Upon this, the old
man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced
that by endeavoring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost
his Ass in the bargain.
The Crow and the Sheep
A TROUBLESOME CROW seated herself on the back of a Sheep. The Sheep,
much against his will, carried her backward and forward for a long time,
and at last said, "If you had treated a dog in this way, you would have
had your deserts from his sharp teeth." To this the Crow replied, "I
despise the weak and yield to the strong. I know whom I may bully and whom
I must flatter; and I thus prolong my life to a good old age."
The Fox and the Bramble
A FOX was mounting a hedge when he lost his footing and caught hold
of a Bramble to save himself. Having pricked and grievously tom the soles
of his feet, he accused the Bramble because, when he had fled to her for
assistance, she had used him worse than the hedge itself. The Bramble,
interrupting him, said, "But you really must have been out of your senses
to fasten yourself on me, who am myself always accustomed to fasten upon
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
The Ant and the Dove
AN ANT went to the bank of a river to quench its thirst, and being
carried away by the rush of the stream, was on the point of drowning. A
Dove sitting on a tree overhanging the water plucked a leaf and let it
fall into the stream close to her. The Ant climbed onto it and floated in
safety to the bank. Shortly afterwards a birdcatcher came and stood under
the tree, and laid his lime-twigs for the Dove, which sat in the branches.
The Ant, perceiving his design, stung him in the foot. In pain the
birdcatcher threw down the twigs, and the noise made the Dove take wing.
The Partridge and the Fowler
A FOWLER caught a Partridge and was about to kill it. The Partridge
earnestly begged him to spare his life, saying, "Pray, master, permit me
to live and I will entice many Partridges to you in recompense for your
mercy to me." The Fowler replied, "I shall now with less scruple take your
life, because you are willing to save it at the cost of betraying your
friends and relations."
The Flea and the Man
A MAN, very much annoyed with a Flea, caught him at last, and said,
"Who are you who dare to feed on my limbs, and to cost me so much trouble
in catching you?' The Flea replied, "O my dear sir, pray spare my life,
and destroy me not, for I cannot possibly do you much harm." The Man,
laughing, replied, "Now you shall certainly die by mine own hands, for no
evil, whether it be small or large, ought to be tolerated."
The Thieves and the Cock
SOME THIEVES broke into a house and found nothing but a Cock, whom
they stole, and got off as fast as they could. Upon arriving at home they
prepared to kill the Cock, who thus pleaded for his life: "Pray spare me;
I am very serviceable to men. I wake them up in the night to their work."
"That is the very reason why we must the more kill you," they replied;
"for when you wake your neighbors, you entirely put an end to our
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 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
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
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?'
LIFE OF AESOP
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
wellknown 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
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. l It is given up in the present day, by
general consent, as unworthy of the slightest credit.
1 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.
The Cock and the Pearl
A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens
when suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. "Ho! ho!" quoth
he, "that's for me," and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. What
did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been lost in the
yard? "You may be a treasure," quoth Master Cock, "to men that prize you,
but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck of pearls."
Precious things are for those that can prize them.
The Wolf and the Lamb
Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside, when,
looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a little
lower down. "There's my supper," thought he, "if only I can find some
excuse to seize it." Then he called out to the Lamb, "How dare you muddle
the water from which I am drinking?"
"Nay, master, nay," said Lambikin; "if the water be muddy up there, I
cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me."
"Well, then," said the Wolf, "why did you call me bad names this time
"That cannot be," said the Lamb; "I am only six months old."
"I don't care," snarled the Wolf; "if it was not you it was your
father;" and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and.
WARRA WARRA WARRA WARRA WARRA.
ate her all up. But before she died she gasped out.
"Any excuse will serve a tyrant."
The Dog and the Shadow
It happened that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it
home in his mouth to eat it in peace. Now on his way home he had to cross
a plank lying across a running brook. As he crossed, he looked down and
saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath. Thinking it was another
dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to have that also. So
he made a snap at the shadow in the water, but as he opened his mouth the
piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water and was never seen more.
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
The Lion's Share
The Lion went once a-hunting along with the Fox, the Jackal, and the
Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and
soon took its life. Then came the question how the spoil should be
divided. "Quarter me this Stag," roared the Lion; so the other animals
skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in
front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: The first quarter is for me
in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another
share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter,
well, as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a
paw upon it."
"Humph," grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his
legs; but he spoke in a low growl. "You may share the labours of the
great, but you will not share the spoil."
The Wolf and the Crane
A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly a
small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it. He
soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning and
groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to induce
every one he met to remove the bone. "I would give anything," said he, "if
you would take it out." At last the Crane agreed to try, and told the Wolf
to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. Then the Crane
put its long neck down the Wolf's throat, and with its beak loosened the
bone, till at last it got it out.
"Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?" said the Crane.
The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said: "Be content. You have
put your head inside a Wolf's mouth and taken it out again in safety; that
ought to be reward enough for you."
Gratitude and greed go not together.
The Man and the Serpent
A Countryman's son by accident trod upon a Serpent's tail, which
turned and bit him so that he died. The father in a rage got his axe, and
pursuing the Serpent, cut off part of its tail. So the Serpent in revenge
began stinging several of the Farmer's cattle and caused him severe loss.
Well, the Farmer thought it best to make it up with the Serpent, and
brought food and honey to the mouth of its lair, and said to it: "Let's
forget and forgive; perhaps you were right to punish my son, and take
vengeance on my cattle, but surely I was right in trying to revenge him;
now that we are both satisfied why should not we be friends again?"
"No, no," said the Serpent; "take away your gifts; you can never
forget the death of your son, nor I the loss of my tail."
Injuries may be forgiven, but not forgotten.
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
Now you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a visit
to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he
loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon,
cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely.
The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and
said: "I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food
as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country;
come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in
town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life."
No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the town and arrived at
the Town Mouse's residence late at night. "You will want some refreshment
after our long journey," said the polite Town Mouse, and took his friend
into the grand dining-room. There they found the remains of a fine feast,
and soon the two mice were eating up jellies and cakes and all that was
nice. Suddenly they heard growling and barking. "What is that?" said the
Country Mouse. "It is only the dogs of the house," answered the other.
"Only!" said the Country Mouse. "I do not like that music at my dinner."
Just at that moment the door flew open, in came two huge mastiffs, and the
two mice had to scamper down and run off. "Good-bye, Cousin," said the
Country Mouse, "What! going so soon?" said the other. "Yes," he replied;
"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear."
The Fox and the Crow
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and
settle on a branch of a tree. "That's for me, as I am a Fox," said Master
Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. "Good-day, Mistress
Crow," he cried. "How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your
feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of
other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you
that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds." The Crow lifted up her head
and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece
of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. "That
will do," said he. "That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I
will give you a piece of advice for the future. "Do not trust flatterers."
The Sick Lion
A Lion had come to the end of his days and lay sick unto death at the
mouth of his cave, gasping for breath. The animals, his subjects, came
round him and drew nearer as he grew more and more helpless. When they saw
him on the point of death they thought to themselves: "Now is the time to
pay off old grudges." So the Boar came up and drove at him with his tusks;
then a Bull gored him with his horns; still the Lion lay helpless before
them: so the Ass, feeling quite safe from danger, came up, and turning his
tail to the Lion kicked up his heels into his face. "This is a double
death," growled the Lion.
Only cowards insult dying majesty.
The Ass and the Lapdog
A Farmer one day came to the stables to see to his beasts of burden:
among them was his favourite Ass, that was always well fed and often
carried his master. With the Farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about and
licked his hand and frisked about as happy as could be. The Farmer felt in
his pocket, gave the Lapdog some dainty food, and sat down while he gave
his orders to his servants. The Lapdog jumped into his master's lap, and
lay there blinking while the Farmer stroked his ears. The Ass, seeing
this, broke loose from his halter and commenced prancing about in
imitation of the Lapdog. The Farmer could not hold his sides with
laughter, so the Ass went up to him, and putting his feet upon the
Farmer's shoulder attempted to climb into his lap. The Farmer's servants
rushed up with sticks and pitchforks and soon taught the Ass that. Clumsy
jesting is no joke.
The Lion and the Mouse
Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down
upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him,
and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little
Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what
I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?" The Lion was so
tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up
his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and
the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree
while they went in search of a waggon to carry him on. Just then the
little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the
Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the
King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.
Little friends may prove great friends.
The Swallow and the Other Birds
It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a field
where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking up their
food. "Beware of that man," quoth the Swallow. "Why, what is he doing?"
said the others. "That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful to pick up
every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it." The birds paid no
heed to the Swallow's words, and by and by the hemp grew up and was made
into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird that had
despised the Swallow's advice was caught in nets made out of that very
hemp. "What did I tell you?" said the Swallow.
Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.
The Frogs Desiring a King
The Frogs were living as happy as could be in a marshy swamp that
just suited them; they went splashing about caring for nobody and nobody
troubling with them. But some of them thought that this was not right,
that they should have a king and a proper constitution, so they determined
to send up a petition to Jove to give them what they wanted. "Mighty Jove,
" they cried, "send unto us a king that will rule over us and keep us in
order." Jove laughed at their croaking, and threw down into the swamp a
huge Log, which came downrplashto the swamp. The Frogs were frightened out
of their lives by the commotion made in their midst, and all rushed to the
bank to look at the horrible monster; but after a time, seeing that it did
not move, one or two of the boldest of them ventured out towards the Log,
and even dared to touch it; still it did not move. Then the greatest hero
of the Frogs jumped upon the Log and commenced dancing up and down upon
it, thereupon all the Frogs came and did the same; and for some time the
Frogs went about their business every day without taking the slightest
notice of their new King Log lying in their midst. But this did not suit
them, so they sent another petition to Jove, and said to him, "We want a
real king; one that will really rule over us." Now this made Jove angry,
so he sent among them a big Stork that soon set to work gobbling them all
up. Then the Frogs repented when too late.
Better no rule than cruel rule.
The Mountains in Labour
One day the Countrymen noticed that the Mountains were in labour;
smoke came out of their summits, the earth was quaking at their feet,
trees were crashing, and huge rocks were tumbling. They felt sure that
something horrible was going to happen. They all gathered together in one
place to see what terrible thing this could be. They waited and they
waited, but nothing came. At last there was a still more violent
earthquake, and a huge gap appeared in the side of the Mountains. They all
fell down upon their knees and waited. At last, and at last, a teeny, tiny
mouse poked its little head and bristles out of the gap and came running
down towards them, and ever after they used to say:
"Much outcry, little outcome."
The Hares and the Frogs
The Hares were so persecuted by the other beasts, they did not know
where to go. As soon as they saw a single animal approach them, off they
used to run. One day they saw a troop of wild Horses stampeding about, and
in quite a panic all the Hares scuttled off to a lake hard by, determined
to drown themselves rather than live in such a continual state of fear.
But just as they got near the bank of the lake, a troop of Frogs,
frightened in their turn by the approach of the Hares scuttled off, and
jumped into the water. "Truly," said one of the Hares, "things are not so
bad as they seem:
"There is always someone worse off than yourself."
The Wolf and the Kid
A Kid was perched up on the top of a house, and looking down saw a
Wolf passing under him. Immediately he began to revile and attack his
enemy. "Murderer and thief," he cried, "what do you here near honest
folks' houses? How dare you make an appearance where your vile deeds are
"Curse away, my young friend," said the Wolf.
"It is easy to be brave from a safe distance."
The Woodman and the Serpent
One wintry day a Woodman was tramping home from his work when he saw
something black lying on the snow. When he came closer he saw it was a
Serpent to all appearance dead. But he took it up and put it in his bosom
to warm while he hurried home. As soon as he got indoors he put the
Serpent down on the hearth before the fire. The children watched it and
saw it slowly come to life again. Then one of them stooped down to stroke
it, but thc Serpent raised its head and put out its fangs and was about to
sting the child to death. So the Woodman seized his axe, and with one
stroke cut the Serpent in two. "Ah," said he,
"No gratitude from the wicked."
The Bald Man and the Fly
There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot summer's
day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging him
from time to time. The Man aimed a blow at his little enemy, but acks palm
came on his head instead; again the Fly tormented him, but this time the
Man was wiser and said:
"You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable
The Fox and the Stork
At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed
very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke
put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the Fox
could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long bill
in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. "I am sorry," said
the Fox, "the soup is not to your liking."
"Pray do not apologise," said the Stork. "I hope you will return this
visit, and come and dine with me soon." So a day was appointed when the
Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that
was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow
mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage
to do was to lick the outside of the jar.
"I will not apologise for the dinner," said the Stork:
"One bad turn deserves another."
The Fox and the Mask
A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre.
Suddenly he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very
frightened; but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as
actors use to put over their face. "Ah," said the Fox, "you look very
fine; it is a pity you have not got any brains."
Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.
The Jay and the Peacock
A Jay venturing into a yard where Peacocks used to walk, found there
a number of feathers which had fallen from the Peacocks when they were
moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the
Peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and
striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. So
the Jay could do no better than go back to the other Jays, who had watched
his behaviour from a distance; but they were equally annoyed with him, and
"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds."
The Frog and the Ox
"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of
a pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a mountain,
with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two."
"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's
Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I
could easily make myself quite as broad; just you see." So he blew himself
out, and blew himself out, and blew himself out. "Was he as big as that?"
"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog.
Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox
was as big as that.
"Bigger, father, bigger," was the reply.
So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and
swelled and swelled and swelled. And then he said: "I'm sure the Ox is not
as big asBut at this moment he burst.
Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.
A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the
forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying down
moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the
Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came
near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and
Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the
pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was
soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion
took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat from
which to live. But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion were
captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the
latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and all
his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the
middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and rushed
bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came near to
Androcles he recognised his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his
hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor, surprised at this, summoned
Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon the slave was
pardoned and freed, and the Lion let loose to his native forest.
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts
A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the
Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated
which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: "Come with us"; but
he said: "I am a Beast." Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath
him looked up and said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Bird."
Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so
the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicings, but they
all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts,
but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they would have torn him to
pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now,
"He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."
The Hart and the Hunter
The Hart was once drinking from a pool and admiring the noble figure
he made there. "Ah," said he, "where can you see such noble horns as
these, with such antlers! I wish I had legs more worthy to bear such a
noble crown; it is a pity they are so slim and slight." At that moment a
Hunter approached and sent an arrow whistling after him. Away bounded the
Hart, and soon, by the aid of his nimble legs, was nearly out of sight of
the Hunter; but not noticing where he was going, he passed under some
trees with branches growing low down in which his antlers were caught, so
that the Hunter had time to come up. "Alas! alas!" cried the Hart:
"We often despise what is most useful to us."
The Serpent and the File
A Serpent in the course of its wanderings came into an armourer's
shop. As he glided over the floor he felt his skin pricked by a file lying
there. In a rage he turned round upon it and tried to dart his fangs into
it; but he could do no harm to heavy iron and had soon to give over his
It is useless attacking the insensible.
The Man and the Wood
A Man came into a Wood one day with an axe in his hand, and begged
all the Trees to give him a small branch which he wanted for a particular
purpose. The Trees were good-natured and gave him one of their branches.
What did the Man do but fix it into the axe head, and soon set to work
cutting down tree after tree. Then the Trees saw how foolish they had been
in giving their enemy the means of destroying themselves.
The Dog and the Wolf
A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a
House-dog who was passing by. "Ah, Cousin," said the Dog. "I knew how it
would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do you not
work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to you?"
"I would have no objection," said the Wolf, "if I could only get a
"I will easily arrange that for you," said the Dog; "come with me to
my master and you shall share my work."
So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way
there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog's neck
was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.
"Oh, it is nothing," said the Dog. "That is only the place where the
collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one
soon gets used to it."
"Is that all?" said the Wolf. "Then good-bye to you, Master Dog."
Better starve free than be a fat slave.
The Belly and the Members
One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were
doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a
meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the
Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two,
the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and
the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to
find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands
could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs
were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in
its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all
must work together or the Body will go to pieces.
The Hart in the Ox-Stall
A Hart hotly pursued by the hounds fled for refuge into an ox-stall,
and buried itself in a truss of hay, leaving nothing to be seen but the
tips of his horns. Soon after the Hunters came up and asked if any one had
seen the Hart. The stable boys, who had been resting after their dinner,
looked round, but could see nothing, and the Hunters went away. Shortly
afterwards the master came in, and looking round, saw that something
unusual had taken place. He pointed to the truss of hay and said: "What
are those two curious things sticking out of the hay?" And when the stable
boys came to look they discovered the Hart, and soon made an end of him.
He thus learnt that Nothing escapes the master's eye.
The Fox and the Grapes
One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he
came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained
over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he.
Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the
bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with
no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel,
but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air,
saying: "I am sure they are sour."
It is easy to despise what you cannot get.
The Horse, Hunter, and Stag
A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse
came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter
agreed, but said: "If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me
to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you
with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so
that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy." The Horse
agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him.
Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said
to the Hunter: "Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and
"Not so fast, friend," said the Hunter. "I have now got you under bit
and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present."
If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you
The Peacock and Juno
A Peacock once placed a petition before Juno desiring to have the
voice of a nightingale in addition to his other attractions; but Juno
refused his request. When he persisted, and pointed out that he was her
favourite bird, she said:
"Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything."
The Fox and the Lion
When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran
away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King
of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third
time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and
passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when
he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he
parted from the Lion without much ceremony.
Familiarity breeds contempt.
The Lion and the Statue
A Man and a Lion were discussing the relative strength of men and
lions in general. The Man contended that he and his fellows were stronger
than lions by reason of their greater intelligence. "Come now with me," he
cried, "and I will soon prove that I am right." So he took him into the
public gardens and showed him a statue of Hercules overcoming the Lion and
tearing his mouth in two.
"That is all very well," said the Lion, "but proves nothing, for it
was a man who made the statue."
We can easily represent things as we wish them to be.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping
and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with
great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of
toiling and moiling in that way?"
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and
recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty
of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of
hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from
the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:
It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
The Tree and the Reed
"Well, little one," said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its
foot, "why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your
head boldly in the air as I do?"
"I am contented with my lot," said the Reed. "I may not be so grand,
but I think I am safer."
"Safe!" sneered the Tree. "Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow
my head to the ground?" But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a
hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log
on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind,
soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.
Obscurity often brings safety.
The Fox and the Cat
A Fox was boasting to a Cat of its clever devices for escaping its
enemies. "I have a whole bag of tricks," he said, "which contains a
hundred ways of escaping my enemies."
"I have only one," said the Cat; "but I can generally manage with
that." Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming
towards them, and the Cat immediately scampered up a tree and hid herself
in the boughs. "This is my plan," said the Cat. "What are you going to do?
" The Fox thought first of one way, then of another, and while he was
debating the hounds came nearer and nearer, and at last the Fox in his
confusion was caught up by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen.
Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said:
"Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon."
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the
vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a
sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own
pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the
sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the
Sheep's clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal
off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and
enjoying hearty meals.
Appearances are deceptive.
The Dog in the Manger
A Dog looking out for its afternoon nap jumped into the Manger of an
Ox and lay there cosily upon the straw. But soon the Ox, returning from
its afternoon work, came up to the Manger and wanted to eat some of the
straw. The Dog in a rage, being awakened from its slumber, stood up and
barked at the Ox, and whenever it came near attempted to bite it. At last
the Ox had to give up the hope of getting at the straw, and went away
"Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves."
The Man and the Wooden God
In the old days men used to worship stocks and stones and idols, and
prayed to them to give them luck. It happened that a Man had often prayed
to a wooden idol he had received from his father, but his luck never
seemed to change. He prayed and he prayed, but still he remained as
unlucky as ever. One day in the greatest rage he went to the Wooden God,
and with one blow swept it down from its pedestal. The idol broke in two,
and what did he see? An immense number of coins flying all over the place.
A Fisher once took his bagpipes to the bank of a river, and played
upon them with the hope of making the fish rise; but never a one put his
nose out of the water. So he cast his net into the river and soon drew it
forth filled with fish. Then he took his bagpipes again, and, as he
played, the fish leapt up in the net. "Ah, you dance now when I play,"
"Yes," said an old Fish:
"When you are in a man's power you must do as he bids you."
The Shepherd's Boy
There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot
of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so
he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some
excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out "Wolf, Wolf,"
and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him
for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days
afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his
help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest,
and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out "Wolf, Wolf,
" still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been
fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody
stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy's
flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said:
"A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth."
The Young Thief and His Mother
A young Man had been caught in a daring act of theft and had been
condemned to be executed for it. He expressed his desire to see his
Mother, and to speak with her before he was led to execution, and of
course this was granted. When his Mother came to him he said: "I want to
whisper to you," and when she brought her ear near him, he nearly bit it
off. All the bystanders were horrified, and asked him what he could mean
by such brutal and inhuman conduct. "It is to punish her," he said. "When
I was young I began with stealing little things, and brought them home to
Mother. Instead of rebuking and punishing me, she laughed and said: "It
will not be noticed." It is because of her that I am here to-day."
"He is right, woman," said the Priest; "the Lord hath said:
"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will
not depart therefrom."
The Man and His Two Wives
In the old days, when men were allowed to have many wives, a
middle-aged Man had one wife that was old and one that was young; each
loved him very much, and desired to see him like herself. Now the Man's
hair was turning grey, which the young Wife did not like, as it made him
look too old for her husband. So every night she used to comb his hair and
pick out the white ones. But the elder Wife saw her husband growing grey
with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken for his mother.
So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pick out as many of the
black ones as she could. The consequence was the Man soon found himself
Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.
The Nurse and the Wolf
"Be quiet now," said an old Nurse to a child sitting on her lap. "If
you make that noise again I will throw you to the Wolf."
Now it chanced that a Wolf was passing close under the window as this
was said. So he crouched down by the side of the house and waited. "I am
in good luck to-day," thought he. "It is sure to cry soon, and a daintier
morsel I haven't had for many a long day." So he waited, and he waited,
and he waited, till at last the child began to cry, and the Wolf came
forward before the window, and looked up to the Nurse, wagging his tail.
But all the Nurse did was to shut down the window and call for help, and
the dogs of the house came rushing out. "Ah," said the Wolf as he galloped
"Enemies promises were made to be broken."
The Tortoise and the Birds
A Tortoise desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an
Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her
trouble. The Eagle agreed and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with her
talons soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the Eagle:
"Tortoise is good eating." "The shell is too hard," said the Eagle in
reply. "The rocks will soon crack the shell," was the Crow's answer; and
the Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a sharp rock, and the
two birds made a hearty meal of the Tortoise.
Never soar aloft on an enemy's pinions.
The Two Crabs
One fine day two Crabs came out from their home to take a stroll on
the sand. "Child," said the mother, "you are walking very ungracefully.
You should accustom yourself, to walking straight forward without twisting
from side to side."
"Pray, mother," said the young one, "do but set the example yourself,
and I will follow you."
Example is the best precept.
The Ass in the Lion's Skin
An Ass once found a Lion's skin which the hunters had left out in the
sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at
his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In
his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one knew
him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgelling for the fright
he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: "Ah,
I knew you by your voice."
Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.
The Two Fellows and the Bear
Two Fellows were travelling together through a wood, when a Bear
rushed out upon them. One of the travellers happened to be in front, and
he seized hold of the branch of a tree, and hid himself among the leaves.
The other, seeing no help for it, threw himself flat down upon the ground,
with his face in the dust. The Bear, coming up to him, put his muzzle
close to his ear, and sniffed and sniffed. But at last with a growl he
shook his head and slouched off, for bears will not touch dead meat. Then
the fellow in the tree came down to his comrade, and, laughing, said "What
was it that Master Bruin whispered to you?"
"He told me," said the other,
"Never trust a friend who deserts you at a pinch."
The Two Pots
Two Pots had been left on the bank of a river, one of brass, and one
of earthenware. When the tide rose they both floated off down the stream.
Now the earthenware pot tried its best to keep aloof from the brass one,
which cried out: "Fear nothing, friend, I will not strike you."
"But I may come in contact with you," said the other, "if I come too
close; and whether I hit you, or you hit me, I shall suffer for it."
The strong and the weak cannot keep company.
The Four Oxen and the Lion
A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell.
Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned
their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he
was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell
a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a
separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and
soon made an end of all four.
United we stand, divided we fall.
The Fisher and the Little Fish
It happened that a Fisher, after fishing all day, caught only a
little fish. "Pray, let me go, master," said the Fish. "I am much too
small for your eating just now. If you put me back into the river I shall
soon grow, then you can make a fine meal off me."
"Nay, nay, my little Fish," said the Fisher, "I have you now. I may
not catch you hereafter."
A little thing in hand is worth more than a great thing in prospect.
Avaricious and Envious
Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their
hearts' desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up
with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have
whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour
had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of gold.
No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to grief when he
found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. Then
came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that his
neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that he might have one of his
own eyes put out, by which means his companion would become totally blind.
Vices are their own punishment.
The Crow and the Pitcher
A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once
been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the
Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he
could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but
at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took
a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and
dropped that into him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able
to quench his thirst and save his life.
Little by little does the trick.
The Man and the Satyr
A Man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter's night. As he was
roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his
way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of
the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr's cell, the Man
raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them. "What do
you do that for?" said the Satyr.
"My hands are numb with the cold," said the Man, "and my breath warms
After this they arrived at the Satyr's home, and soon the Satyr put a
smoking dish of porridge before him. But when the Man raised his spoon to
his mouth he began blowing upon it. "And what do you do that for?" said
"The porridge is too hot, and my breath will cool it."
"Out you go," said the Satyr. "I will have nought to do with a man
who can blow hot and cold with the same breath."
The Goose With the Golden Eggs
One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an
egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead
and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been
played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to
his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing
occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he
grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could
give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.
Greed oft o'er reaches itself.
The Labourer and the Nightingale
A Labourer lay listening to a Nightingale's song throughout the
summer night. So pleased was he with it that the next night he set a trap
for it and captured it. "Now that I have caught thee," he cried, "thou
shalt always sing to me."
"We Nightingales never sing in a cage." said the bird.
"Then I'll eat thee." said the Labourer. "I have always heard say
that a nightingale on toast is dainty morsel."
"Nay, kill me not," said the Nightingale; "but let me free, and I'll
tell thee three things far better worth than my poor body." The Labourer
let him loose, and he flew up to a branch of a tree and said: "Never
believe a captive's promise; that's one thing. Then again: Keep what you
have. And third piece of advice is: Sorrow not over what is lost forever."
Then the song-bird flew away.
The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog
One moonlight night a Fox was prowling about a farmer's hen-coop, and
saw a Cock roosting high up beyond his reach. "Good news, good news!" he
"Why, what is that?" said the Cock.
"King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird
henceforth, but all shall dwell together in brotherly friendship."
"Why, that is good news," said the Cock; "and there I see some one
coming, with whom we can share the good tidings." And so saying he craned
his neck forward and looked afar off.
"What is it you see?" said the Fox.
"It is only my master's Dog that is coming towards us. What, going so
soon?" he continued, as the Fox began to turn away as soon as he had heard
the news. "Will you not stop and congratulate the Dog on the reign of
"I would gladly do so," said the Fox, "but I fear he may not have
heard of King Lion's decree."
Cunning often outwits itself.
The Wind and the Sun
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly
they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way
to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take
off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun
retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could
upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the
traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up
in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the
traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Kindness effects more than severity.
Hercules and the Waggoner
A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At
last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the
mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the
Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the
Strong. "O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress," quoth he. But
Hercules appeared to him, and said:
"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the
The gods help them that help themselves.
The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey
A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As
they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said:
"You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?"
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But
soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: "See that lazy
youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides."
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they
hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other:
"Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along."
Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up
before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the
passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what
they were scoffing at. The men said: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for
overloading that poor donkey of yoursu and your hulking son?"
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought
and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's
feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They
went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market
Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and
caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey
fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was
"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them:
"Please all, and you will please none."
The Miser and His Gold
Once upon a time there was a Miser who used to hide his gold at the
foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it up
and gloat over his gains. A robber, who had noticed this, went and dug up
the gold and decamped with it. When the Miser next came to gloat over his
treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his hair, and
raised such an outcry that all the neighbours came around him, and he told
them how he used to come and visit his gold. "Did you ever take any of it
out?" asked one of them.
"Nay," said he, "I only came to look at it."
"Then come again and look at the hole," said a neighbour; "it will do
you just as much good."
Wealth unused might as well not exist.
The Fox and the Mosquitoes
A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and
could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it
and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail. A hedgehog strolling by
took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: "You are in a bad way,
neighbour," said the hedgehog; "shall I relieve you by driving off those
Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?"
"Thank you, Master Hedgehog," said the Fox, "but I would rather not."
"Why, how is that?" asked the hedgehog.
"Well, you see," was the answer, "these Mosquitoes have had their
fill; if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and
bleed me to death."
The Fox Without a Tail
It happened that a Fox caught its tail in a trap, and in struggling
to release himself lost all of it but the stump. At first he was ashamed
to show himself among his fellow foxes. But at last he determined to put a
bolder face upon his misfortune, and summoned all the foxes to a general
meeting to consider a proposal which he had to place before them. When
they had assembled together the Fox proposed that they should all do away
with their tails. He pointed out how inconvenient a tail was when they
were pursued by their enemies, the dogs; how much it was in the way when
they desired to sit down and hold a friendly conversation with one
another. He failed to see any advantage in carrying about such a useless
encumbrance. "That is all very well," said one of the older foxes; "but I
do not think you would have recommended us to dispense with our chief
ornament if you had not happened to lose it yourself."
Distrust interested advice.
The One-Eyed Doe
A Doe had had the misfortune to lose one of her eyes, and could not
see any one approaching her on that side. So to avoid any danger she
always used to feed on a high cliff near the sea, with her sound eye
looking towards the land. By this means she could see whenever the hunters
approached her on land, and often escaped by this means. But the hunters
found out that she was blind of one eye, and hiring a boat rowed under the
cliff where she used to feed and shot her from the sea. "Ah," cried she
with her dying voice,
"You cannot escape your fate."
Belling the Cat
Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures
they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, and
some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a
proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all
agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and
treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could
receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I
venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached
by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know
when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the
This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up
and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice
looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:
"It is easy to propose impossible remedies."
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. "I
have never yet been beaten," said he, "when I put forth my full speed. I
challenge any one here to race with me."
The Tortoise said quietly, "I accept your challenge."
"That is a good joke," said the Hare; "I could dance round you all
"Keep your boasting till you've beaten," answered the Tortoise.
"Shall we race?"
So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost
out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the
Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on,
and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the
winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race. Then said the
"Plodding wins the race."
The Old Man and Death
An old labourer, bent double with age and toil, was gathering sticks
in a forest. At last he grew so tired and hopeless that he threw down the
bundle of sticks, and cried out: "I cannot bear this life any longer. Ah,
I wish Death would only come and take me!"
As he spoke, Death, a grisly skeleton, appeared and said to him:
"What wouldst thou, Mortal? I heard thee call me."
"Please, sir," replied the woodcutter, "would you kindly help me to
lift this faggot of sticks on to my shoulder?"
We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.
The Hare With Many Friends
A Hare was very popular with the other beasts who all claimed to be
her friends. But one day she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to
escape them by the aid of her many Friends. So, she went to the horse, and
asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he declined,
stating that he had important work to do for his master. "He felt sure,"
he said, "that all her other friends would come to her assistance." She
then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would repel the hounds with
his horns. The bull replied: "I am very sorry, but I have an appointment
with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do what you
want." The goat, however, feared that his back might do her some harm if
he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper friend to apply
to. So she went to the ram and told him the case. The ram replied:
"Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on the present
occasion, as hounds have been known to eat sheep as well as hares." The
Hare then applied, as a last hope, to the calf, who regretted that he was
unable to help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility upon
himself, as so many older persons than himself had declined the task. By
this time the hounds were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels and
He that has many friends, has no friends.
The Lion in Love
A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed
marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did
not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to
enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said: "We feel highly
honoured by your Majesty's proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender
young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might
possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty
should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would
gladly consider your proposal again." The Lion was so much in love that he
had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again
to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade
him do his worst.
Love can tame the wildest.
The Bundle of Sticks
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give
them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a faggot of
sticks, and said to his eldest son: "Break it." The son strained and
strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The
other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. "Untie the
faggots," said the father, "and each of you take a stick." When they had
done so, he called out to them: "Now, break," and each stick was easily
broken. "You see my meaning," said their father.
Union gives strength.
The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts
The Lion once gave out that he was sick unto death and summoned the
animals to come and hear his last Will and Testament. So the Goat came to
the Lion's cave, and stopped there listening for a long time. Then a Sheep
went in, and before she came out a Calf came up to receive the last wishes
of the Lord of the Beasts. But soon the Lion seemed to recover, and came
to the mouth of his cave, and saw the Fox, who had been waiting outside
for some time. "Why do you not come to pay your respects to me?" said the
Lion to the Fox.
"I beg your Majesty's pardon," said the Fox, "but I noticed the track
of the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many
hoof-marks going in, I see none coming out. Till the animals that have
entered your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air."
It is easier to get into the enemy's toils than out again.
The Ass's Brains
The Lion and the Fox went hunting together. The Lion, on the advice
of the Fox, sent a message to the Ass, proposing to make an alliance
between their two families. The Ass came to the place of meeting,
overjoyed at the prospect of a royal alliance. But when he came there the
Lion simply pounced on the Ass, and said to the Fox: "Here is our dinner
for to-day. Watch you here while I go and have a nap. Woe betide you if
you touch my prey." The Lion went away and the Fox waited; but finding
that his master did not return, ventured to take out the brains of the Ass
and ate them up. When the Lion came back he soon noticed the absence of
the brains, and asked the Fox in a terrible voice: "What have you done
with the brains?"
"Brains, your Majesty! it had none, or it would never have fallen
into your trap."
Wit has always an answer ready.
The Eagle and the Arrow
An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz
of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to
the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the
Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow
had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it cried, as it
"We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction."
The Milkmaid and Her Pail
Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail on
her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do with
the money she would get for the milk. "I'll buy some fowls from Farmer
Brown," said she, "and they will lay eggs each morning, which I will sell
to the parson's wife. With the money that I get from the sale of these
eggs I'll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat; and when I go to
market, won't all the young men come up and speak to me! Polly Shaw will
be that jealous; but I don't care. I shall just look at her and toss my
head like this. As she spoke she tossed her head back, the Pail fell off
it, and all the milk was spilt. So she had to go home and tell her mother
what had occurred.
"Ah, my child," said the mother,
"Do not count your chickens before they are hatched."
The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living
being to change its nature. Jupiter said "Yes," but Venus said "No." So,
to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a
young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young couple
sat down to the wedding-feast. "See," said Jupiter, to Venus, "how
becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a Cat?
Surely her nature is changed?"
"Wait a minute," replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room.
No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and
tried to pounce upon the mouse. "Ah, you see," said Venus,
"Nature will out."
The Horse and the Ass
A Horse and an Ass were travelling together, the Horse prancing along
in its fine trappings, the Ass carrying with difficulty the heavy weight
in its panniers. "I wish I were you," sighed the Ass; "nothing to do and
well fed, and all that fine harness upon you." Next day, however, there
was a great battle, and the Horse was wounded to death in the final charge
of the day. His friend, the Ass, happened to pass by shortly afterwards
and found him on the point of death. "I was wrong," said the Ass:
"Better humble security than gilded danger."
The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner
A Trumpeter during a battle ventured too near the enemy and was
captured by them. They were about to proceed to put him to death when he
begged them to hear his plea for mercy. "I do not fight," said he, "and
indeed carry no weapon; I only blow this trumpet, and surely that cannot
harm you; then why should you kill me?"
"You may not fight yourself," said the others, "but you encourage and
guide your men to the fight."
Words may be deeds.
The Buffoon and the Countryman
At a country fair there was a Buffoon who made all the people laugh
by imitating the cries of various animals. He finished off by squeaking so
like a pig that the spectators thought that he had a porker concealed
about him. But a Countryman who stood by said: "Call that a pig s squeak!
Nothing like it. You give me till tomorrow and I will show you what it's
like." The audience laughed, but next day, sure enough, the Countryman
appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so hideously
that the spectators hissed and threw stones at him to make him stop. "You
fools!" he cried, "see what you have been hissing," and held up a little
pig whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the squeals.
Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.
The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
You must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One of
this sort once found a Wine-jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up to
it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that all the
wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at the mouth of
the Jar. "Ah," she cried,
"What memories cling 'round the instruments of our pleasure."
The Fox and the Goat
By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could
not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what
he was doing down there. "Oh, have you not heard?" said the Fox; "there is
going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to
have water by me. Why don't you come down too?" The Goat thought well of
this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped
on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up
to the edge of the well. "Good-bye, friend," said the Fox, "remember next
"Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties."