Aesop Fables

Aesop’s Fables
By Aesop

Translated by George Fyler Townsend


The Wolf and the Lamb

Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay
violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb
the Wolf’s right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sirrah, last
year you grossly insulted me.” “Indeed,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful
tone of voice, “I was not then born.” Then said the Wolf, “You feed
in my pasture.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet
tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “You drink of my well.” “No,”
exclaimed the Lamb, “I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother’s
milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon which the Wolf seized him
and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though
you refute every one of my imputations.” The tyrant will always find
a pretext for his tyranny.

The Bat and the Weasels

A Bat who fell upon the ground and was caught by a Weasel pleaded
to be spared his life. The Weasel refused, saying that he was by nature
the enemy of all birds. The Bat assured him that he was not a bird,
but a mouse, and thus was set free. Shortly afterwards the Bat again
fell to the ground and was caught by another Weasel, whom he likewise
entreated not to eat him. The Weasel said that he had a special hostility
to mice. The Bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat, and
thus a second time escaped.

It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.

The Ass and the Grasshopper

An Ass having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted;
and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what
sort of food they lived on to give them such beautiful voices. They
replied, “The dew.” The Ass resolved that he would live only upon
dew, and in a short time died of hunger.

The Lion and the Mouse

A Kion 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 these

The Boy Hunting Locusts

A boy was hunting for locusts. He had caught a goodly number, when
he saw a Scorpion, and mistaking him for a locust, reached out his
hand to take him. The Scorpion, showing his sting, said: If you had
but touched me, my friend, you would have lost me, and all your locusts

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 leisure.

The Tortoise and the Eagle

A Tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds
of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering
near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give
him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. “I will give
you,” she said, “all the riches of the Red Sea.” “I will teach you
to fly then,” said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried
her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a
lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed
in the moment of death: “I have deserved my present fate; for what
had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about
on the earth?’

If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.

The Flies and the Honey-Pot

A number of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been
overturned in a housekeeper’s room, and placing their feet in it,
ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey
that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were
suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, “O foolish
creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed

Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.

The Man and the Lion

A Man and a Lion traveled together through the forest. They soon began
to boast of their respective superiority to each other in strength
and prowess. As they were disputing, they passed a statue carved in
stone, which represented “a Lion strangled by a Man.” The traveler
pointed to it and said: “See there! How strong we are, and how we
prevail over even the king of beasts.” The Lion replied: “This statue
was made by one of you men. If we Lions knew how to erect statues,
you would see the Man placed under the paw of the Lion.”

One story is good, till another is told.

The Farmer and the Cranes

Some cranes made their feeding grounds on some plowlands newly sown
with wheat. For a long time the Farmer, brandishing an empty sling,
chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found
that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any
notice of it and would not move. The Farmer, on seeing this, charged
his sling with stones, and killed a great number. The remaining birds
at once forsook his fields, crying to each other, “It is time for
us to be off to Liliput: for this man is no longer content to scare
us, but begins to show us in earnest what he can do.”

If words suffice not, blows must follow.

The Dog in the Manger

A Dog lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping prevented
the oxen from eating the hay which had been placed for them. “What
a selfish Dog!” said one of them to his companions; “he cannot eat
the hay himself, and yet refuses to allow those to eat who can.”

The Fox and the Goat

A Fox one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of escape.
A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the
Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his sad plight under
a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying
it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend. The
Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just
as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both
in and suggested a scheme for their common escape. “If,” said he,
“you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I
will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.”
The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying
himself with the Goat’s horns, he safely reached the mouth of the
well and made off as fast as he could. When the Goat upbraided him
for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out, “You foolish
old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs
in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected
the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had
no means of escape.”

Look before you leap.

The Bear and the Two Travelers

Two men were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on
their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed
himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked,
fell flat on the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him with
his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned
the appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him,
for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone,
the other Traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired
of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear. “He gave
me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend
who deserts you at the approach of danger.”

Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.

The Oxen and the Axle-Trees

A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of
Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; whereupon the Oxen,
turning round, thus addressed the wheels: “Hullo there! why do you
make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought
to cry out.”

Those who suffer most cry out the least.

The Thirsty Pigeon

A Pigeon, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted
on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards
it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard,
jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she
fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.

Zeal should not outrun discretion.

The Raven and the Swan

A Raven saw a Swan and desired to secure for himself the same beautiful
plumage. Supposing that the Swan’s splendid white color arose from
his washing in the water in which he swam, the Raven left the altars
in the neighborhood where he picked up his living, and took up residence
in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he
would, he could not change their color, while through want of food
he perished.

Change of habit cannot alter Nature.

The Goat and the Goatherd

A Goatherd had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock. He
whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention
to the summons. At last the Goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its
horn, begged the Goat not to tell his master. The Goat replied, “Why,
you silly fellow, the horn will speak though I be silent.”

Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.

The Miser

A Miser sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he buried
in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and went to look
at daily. One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot
and decided to watch his movements. He soon discovered the secret
of the hidden treasure, and digging down, came to the lump of gold,
and stole it. The Miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and
began to tear his hair and to make loud lamentations. A neighbor,
seeing him overcome with grief and learning the cause, said, “Pray
do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole,
and fancy that the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite
the same service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as
you did not make the slightest use of 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!”

The Lioness

A controversy prevailed among the beasts of the field as to which
of the animals deserved the most credit for producing the greatest
number of whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously into the presence
of the Lioness and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute.
“And you,” they said, “how many sons have you at a birth?’ The Lioness
laughed at them, and said: “Why! I have only one; but that one is
altogether a thoroughbred Lion.”

The value is in the worth, not in the number.

The Boasting Traveler

A Man who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, on returning
to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic feats he had
performed in the different places he had visited. Among other things,
he said that when he was at Rhodes he had leaped to such a distance
that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him as to that, there
were in Rhodes many persons who saw him do it and whom he could call
as witnesses. One of the bystanders interrupted him, saying: “Now,
my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose
this to be Rhodes, and leap for us.”

The Cat and the Cock

A Cat caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable excuse
for eating him. He accused him of being a nuisance to men by crowing
in the nighttime and not permitting them to sleep. The Cock defended
himself by saying that he did this for the benefit of men, that they
might rise in time for their labors. The Cat replied, “Although you
abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless”; and
he made a meal of him.

The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat

A young Pig was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and a Sheep. On
one occasion when the shepherd laid hold of him, he grunted and squeaked
and resisted violently. The Sheep and the Goat complained of his distressing
cries, saying, “He often handles us, and we do not cry out.” To this
the Pig replied, “Your handling and mine are very different things.
He catches you only for your wool, or your milk, but he lays hold
on me for my very life.”

The Boy and the Filberts

A Boy put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped as
many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out his
hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling
to lose his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst
into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said
to him, “Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily
draw out your 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 of living.

Evil companions bring more hurt than profit.

The Salt Merchant and His Ass

A Peddler drove his Ass to the seashore to buy salt. His road home
lay across a stream into which his Ass, making a false step, fell
by accident and rose up again with his load considerably lighter,
as the water melted the sack. The Peddler retraced his steps and refilled
his panniers with a larger quantity of salt than before. When he came
again to the stream, the Ass fell down on purpose in the same spot,
and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much diminished,
brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained what he desired. The Peddler
saw through his trick and drove him for the third time to the coast,
where he bought a cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again
playing the fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream,
but the sponges became swollen with water, greatly increasing his
load. And thus his trick recoiled on him, for he now carried on his
back a double burden.

The Oxen and the Butchers

The Oxen once upon a time sought to destroy the Butchers, who practiced
a trade destructive to their race. They assembled on a certain day
to carry out their purpose, and sharpened their horns for the contest.
But one of them who was exceedingly old (for many a field had he plowed)
thus spoke: “These Butchers, it is true, slaughter us, but they do
so with skillful hands, and with no unnecessary pain. If we get rid
of them, we shall fall into the hands of unskillful operators, and
thus suffer a double death: for you may be assured, that though all
the Butchers should perish, yet will men never want beef.”

Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another.

The Lion, the Mouse, and the Fox

A Lion, fatigued by the heat of a summer’s day, fell fast asleep in
his den. A Mouse ran over his mane and ears and woke him from his
slumbers. He rose up and shook himself in great wrath, and searched
every corner of his den to find the Mouse. A Fox seeing him said:
“A fine Lion you are, to be frightened of a Mouse.” “‘Tis not the
Mouse I fear,” said the Lion; “I resent his familiarity and ill-breeding.”

Little liberties are great offenses.

The Vain Jackdaw

Jupiter determined, it is said, to create a sovereign over the birds,
and made proclamation that on a certain day they should all present
themselves before him, when he would himself choose the most beautiful
among them to be king. The Jackdaw, knowing his own ugliness, searched
through the woods and fields, and collected the feathers which had
fallen from the wings of his companions, and stuck them in all parts
of his body, hoping thereby to make himself the most beautiful of
all. When the appointed day arrived, and the birds had assembled before
Jupiter, the Jackdaw also made his appearance in his many feathered
finery. But when Jupiter proposed to make him king because of the
beauty of his plumage, the birds indignantly protested, and each plucked
from him his own feathers, leaving the Jackdaw nothing but a Jackdaw.

The Goatherd and the Wild Goats

A Goatherd, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found
some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with
his own for the night. The next day it snowed very hard, so that he
could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged
to keep them in the fold. He gave his own goats just sufficient food
to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope
of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When
the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered
away as fast as they could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded
them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he
had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them, turning
about, said to him: “That is the very reason why we are so cautious;
for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had
so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would
in the same manner prefer them to ourselves.”

Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.

The Mischievous Dog

A Dog used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he met, and
to bite them without notice. His master suspended a bell about his
neck so that the Dog might give notice of his presence wherever he
went. Thinking it a mark of distinction, the Dog grew proud of his
bell and went tinkling it all over the marketplace. One day an old
hound said to him: Why do you make such an exhibition of yourself?
That bell that you carry is not, believe me, any order of merit, but
on the contrary a mark of disgrace, a public notice to all men to
avoid you as an ill mannered 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.

The Astronomer

An astronomer used to go out at night to observe the stars. One evening,
as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed
on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented
and bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor
ran to the well, and learning what had happened said: “Hark ye, old
fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not
manage to see what is on earth?’

The Wolves and the Sheep

“Why should there always be this fear and slaughter between us?” said
the Wolves to the Sheep. “Those evil-disposed Dogs have much to answer
for. They always bark whenever we approach you and attack us before
we have done any harm. If you would only dismiss them from your heels,
there might soon be treaties of peace and reconciliation between us.”
The Sheep, poor silly creatures, were easily beguiled and dismissed
the Dogs, whereupon the Wolves destroyed the unguarded flock at their
own pleasure.

The Old Woman and the Physician

An Old Woman having lost the use of her eyes, called in a Physician
to heal them, and made this bargain with him in the presence of witnesses:
that if he should cure her blindness, he should receive from her a
sum of money; but if her infirmity remained, she should give him nothing.
This agreement being made, the Physician, time after time, applied
his salve to her eyes, and on every visit took something away, stealing
all her property little by little. And when he had got all she had,
he healed her and demanded the promised payment. The Old Woman, when
she recovered her sight and saw none of her goods in her house, would
give him nothing. The Physician insisted on his claim, and. as she
still refused, summoned her before the Judge. The Old Woman, standing
up in the Court, argued: “This man here speaks the truth in what he
says; for I did promise to give him a sum of money if I should recover
my sight: but if I continued blind, I was to give him nothing. Now
he declares that I am healed. I on the contrary affirm that I am still
blind; for when I lost the use of my eyes, I saw in my house various
chattels and valuable goods: but now, though he swears I am cured
of my blindness, I am not able to see a single thing in it.”

The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle

Two game Cocks were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the farmyard.
One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished Cock skulked away
and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up
to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed exultingly with all his
might. An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon him and carried
him off in his talons. The vanquished Cock immediately came out of
his corner, and ruled henceforth with undisputed mastery.

Pride goes before destruction.

The Charger and the Miller

A Charger, feeling the infirmities of age, was sent to work in a mill
instead of going out to battle. But when he was compelled to grind
instead of serving in the wars, he bewailed his change of fortune
and called to mind his former state, saying, “Ah! Miller, I had indeed
to go campaigning before, but I was barbed from counter to tail, and
a man went along to groom me; and now I cannot understand what ailed
me to prefer the mill before the battle.” “Forbear,” said the Miller
to him, “harping on what was of yore, for it is the common lot of
mortals to sustain the ups and downs of fortune.”

The Fox and the Monkey

A Monkey once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased
them all by his performance that they elected him their King. A Fox,
envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap,
and leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said that she had
found a store, but had not used it, she had kept it for him as treasure
trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold of it. The Monkey
approached carelessly and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing
the Fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied, “O Monkey,
and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be King over the

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

The Vine and the Goat

A Vine was luxuriant in the time of vintage with leaves and grapes.
A Goat, passing by, nibbled its young tendrils and its leaves. The
Vine addressed him and said: “Why do you thus injure me without a
cause, and crop my leaves? Is there no young grass left? But I shall
not have to wait long for my just revenge; for if you now should crop
my leaves, and cut me down to my root, I shall provide the wine to
pour over you when you are led as a victim to the sacrifice.”

Jupiter and the Monkey

Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest and
promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be deemed
the handsomest. The Monkey came with the rest and presented, with
all a mother’s tenderness, a flat-nosed, hairless, ill-featured young
Monkey as a candidate for the promised reward. A general laugh saluted
her on the presentation of her son. She resolutely said, “I know not
whether Jupiter will allot the prize to my son, but this I do know,
that he is at least in the eyes of me his mother, the dearest, handsomest,
and most beautiful of all.”

The Widow and Her Little Maidens

A Widow who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait on
her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at
cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive labor, resolved
to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had
done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater
troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the hour from the
cock, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.

The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf

A Shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought
out the villagers three or four times by crying out, “Wolf! Wolf!”
and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their
pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy,
now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: “Pray, do come
and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep”; but no one paid any heed
to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause
of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.

There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.

The Cat and the Birds

A Cat, hearing that the Birds in a certain aviary were ailing dressed
himself up as a physician, and, taking his cane and a bag of instruments
becoming his profession, went to call on them. He knocked at the door
and inquired of the inmates how they all did, saying that if they
were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them and cure them. They
replied, “We are all very well, and shall continue so, if you will
only be good enough to go away, and leave us as we are.”

The Kid and the Wolf

A Kid standing on the roof of a house, out of harm’s way, saw a Wolf
passing by and immediately began to taunt and revile him. The Wolf,
looking up, said, “Sirrah! I hear thee: yet it is not thou who mockest
me, but the roof on which thou art standing.”

Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong.

The Ox and the Frog

An Ox drinking at a pool trod on a brood of young frogs and crushed
one of them to death. The Mother coming up, and missing one of her
sons, inquired of his brothers what had become of him. “He is dead,
dear Mother; for just now a very huge beast with four great feet came
to the pool and crushed him to death with his cloven heel.” The Frog,
puffing herself out, inquired, “if the beast was as big as that in
size.” “Cease, Mother, to puff yourself out,” said her son, “and do
not be angry; for you would, I assure you, sooner burst than successfully
imitate the hugeness of that monster.”


The Shepherd and the Wolf

A Shepherd once found the whelp of a Wolf and brought it up, and
after a while taught it to steal lambs from the neighboring flocks.
The Wolf, having shown himself an apt pupil, said to the Shepherd,
“Since you have taught me to steal, you must keep a sharp lookout,
or you will lose some of your own flock.”

The Father and His Two Daughters

A Man had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other
to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married
the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all things went with
her. She said, “All things are prospering with me, and I have only
one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the
plants may be well watered.” Not long after, he went to the daughter
who had married the tilemaker, and likewise inquired of her how she
fared; she replied, “I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that
the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so
that the bricks might be dried.” He said to her, “If your sister wishes
for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join
my wishes?’

The Farmer and His Sons

A father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his
sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given
it. He called them to his bedside and said, “My sons, there is a great
treasure hid in one of my vineyards.” The sons, after his death, took
their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of
their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor
by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.

The Crab and Its Mother

A Crab said to her son, “Why do you walk so one-sided, my child? It
is far more becoming to go straight forward.” The young Crab replied:
“Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way,
I will promise to walk in it.” The Mother tried in vain, and submitted
without remonstrance to the reproof of her child.

Example is more powerful than precept.

The Heifer and the Ox

A Heifer saw an Ox hard at work harnessed to a plow, and tormented
him with reflections on his unhappy fate in being compelled to labor.
Shortly afterwards, at the harvest festival, the owner released the
Ox from his yoke, but bound the Heifer with cords and led him away
to the altar to be slain in honor of the occasion. The Ox saw what
was being done, and said with a smile to the Heifer: “For this you
were allowed to live in idleness, because you were presently to be

The Swallow, the Serpent, and the Court of Justice

A Swallow, returning from abroad and especially fond of dwelling with
men, built herself a nest in the wall of a Court of Justice and there
hatched seven young birds. A Serpent gliding past the nest from its
hole in the wall ate up the young unfledged nestlings. The Swallow,
finding her nest empty, lamented greatly and exclaimed: “Woe to me
a stranger! that in this place where all others’ rights are protected,
I alone should suffer wrong.”

The Thief and His Mother

A Boy stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it
home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged
him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again
commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal
things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act,
and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of
public execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat
her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, “I wish to say
something to my Mother in her ear.” She came close to him, and he
quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided
him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, “Ah! if you had beaten
me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should
not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death.”

The Old Man and Death

An Old Man was employed in cutting wood in the forest, and, in carrying
the faggots to the city for sale one day, became very wearied with
his long journey. He sat down by the wayside, and throwing down his
load, besought “Death” to come. “Death” immediately appeared in answer
to his summons and asked for what reason he had called him. The Old
Man hurriedly replied, “That, lifting up the load, you may place it
again upon my shoulders.”

The Fir-Tree and the Bramble

A Fir-Tree said boastingly to the Bramble, “You are useful for nothing
at all; while I am everywhere used for roofs and houses.” The Bramble
answered: ‘You poor creature, if you would only call to mind the axes
and saws which are about to hew you down, you would have reason to
wish that you had grown up a Bramble, not a Fir-Tree.”

Better poverty without care, than riches with.

The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk

A Mouse who always lived on the land, by an unlucky chance formed
an intimate acquaintance with a Frog, who lived for the most part
in the water. The Frog, one day intent on mischief, bound the foot
of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the Frog first
of all led his friend the Mouse to the meadow where they were accustomed
to find their food. After this, he gradually led him towards the pool
in which he lived, until reaching the very brink, he suddenly jumped
in, dragging the Mouse with him. The Frog enjoyed the water amazingly,
and swam croaking about, as if he had done a good deed. The unhappy
Mouse was soon suffocated by the water, and his dead body floated
about on the surface, tied to the foot of the Frog. A Hawk observed
it, and, pouncing upon it with his talons, carried it aloft. The Frog,
being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also carried off
a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.

Harm hatch, harm catch.

The Man Bitten By a Dog

A Man who had been bitten by a Dog went about in quest of someone
who might heal him. A friend, meeting him and learning what he wanted,
said, “If you would be cured, take a piece of bread, and dip it in
the blood from your wound, and go and give it to the Dog that bit
you.” The Man who had been bitten laughed at this advice and said,
“Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I should beg every Dog
in the town to bite me.”

Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed increase their means of injuring

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

Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.

The Aethiop

The purchaser of a black servant was persuaded that the color of his
skin arose from dirt contracted through the neglect of his former
masters. On bringing him home he resorted to every means of cleaning,
and subjected the man to incessant scrubbings. The servant caught
a severe cold, but he never changed his color or complexion.

What’s bred in the bone will stick to the flesh.

The Fisherman and His Nets

A Fisherman, engaged in his calling, made a very successful cast and
captured a great haul of fish. He managed by a skillful handling of
his net to retain all the large fish and to draw them to the shore;
but he could not prevent the smaller fish from falling back through
the meshes of the net into the sea.

The Huntsman and the Fisherman

A Huntsman, returning with his dogs from the field, fell in by chance
with a Fisherman who was bringing home a basket well laden with fish.
The Huntsman wished to have the fish, and their owner experienced
an equal longing for the contents of the game-bag. They quickly agreed
to exchange the produce of their day’s sport. Each was so well pleased
with his bargain that they made for some time the same exchange day
after day. Finally a neighbor said to them, “If you go on in this
way, you will soon destroy by frequent use the pleasure of your exchange,
and each will again wish to retain the fruits of his own sport.”

Abstain and enjoy.

The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar

An Old Woman found an empty jar which had lately been full of prime
old wine and which still retained the fragrant smell of its former
contents. She greedily placed it several times to her nose, and drawing
it backwards and forwards said, “O most delicious! How nice must the
Wine itself have been, when it leaves behind in the very vessel which
contained it so sweet a perfume!”

The memory of a good deed lives.

The Fox and the Crow

A Crow having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it
in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself,
and by a wily stratagem succeeded. “How handsome is the Crow,” he
exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion!
Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly
be considered the Queen of Birds!” This he said deceitfully; but the
Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up
a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and
thus addressed the Crow: “My good Crow, your voice is right enough,
but your wit is 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

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 land.”

The Lion and the Boar

On a summer day, when the great heat induced a general thirst among
the beasts, a Lion and a Boar came at the same moment to a small well
to drink. They fiercely disputed which of them should drink first,
and were soon engaged in the agonies of a mortal combat. When they
stopped suddenly to catch their breath for a fiercer renewal of the
fight, they saw some Vultures waiting in the distance to feast on
the one that should fall first. They at once made up their quarrel,
saying, “It is better for us to make friends, than to become the food
of Crows or Vultures.”

The One-Eyed Doe

A Doe blind in one eye was accustomed to graze as near to the edge
of the cliff as she possibly could, in the hope of securing her greater
safety. She turned her sound eye towards the land that she might get
the earliest tidings of the approach of hunter or hound, and her injured
eye towards the sea, from whence she entertained no anticipation of
danger. Some boatmen sailing by saw her, and taking a successful aim,
mortally wounded her. Yielding up her last breath, she gasped forth
this lament: “O wretched creature that I am! to take such precaution
against the land, and after all to find this seashore, to which I
had come for safety, so much more perilous.”

The Shepherd and the Sea

A Shepherd, keeping watch over his sheep near the shore, saw the Sea
very calm and smooth, and longed to make a voyage with a view to commerce.
He sold all his flock, invested it in a cargo of dates, and set sail.
But a very great tempest came on, and the ship being in danger of
sinking, he threw all his merchandise overboard, and barely escaped
with his life in the empty ship. Not long afterwards when someone
passed by and observed the unruffled calm of the Sea, he interrupted
him and said, “It is again in want of dates, and therefore looks quiet.”

The Ass, the Cock, and the Lion

An Ass and a Cock were in a straw-yard together when a Lion, desperate
from hunger, approached the spot. He was about to spring upon the
Ass, when the Cock (to the sound of whose voice the Lion, it is said,
has a singular aversion) crowed loudly, and the Lion fled away as
fast as he could. The Ass, observing his trepidation at the mere crowing
of a Cock summoned courage to attack him, and galloped after him for
that purpose. He had run no long distance, when the Lion, turning
about, seized him and tore him to pieces.

False confidence often leads into danger.

The Mice and the Weasels

The Weasels and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other, in
which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the victors. The
Mice thought that the cause of their frequent defeats was that they
had no leaders set apart from the general army to command them, and
that they were exposed to dangers from lack of discipline. They therefore
chose as leaders Mice that were most renowned for their family descent,
strength, and counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage
in the fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array
and formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was
done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly proclaimed
war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen generals bound their
heads with straws, that they might be more conspicuous to all their
troops. Scarcely had the battle begun, when a great rout overwhelmed
the Mice, who scampered off as fast as they could to their holes.
The generals, not being able to get in on account of the ornaments
on their heads, were all captured and eaten by the Weasels.

The more honor the more danger.

The Mice in Council

The Mice summoned a council to decide how they might best devise means
of warning themselves of the approach of their great enemy the Cat.
Among the many plans suggested, the one that found most favor was
the proposal to tie a bell to the neck of the Cat, so that the Mice,
being warned by the sound of the tinkling, might run away and hide
themselves in their holes at his approach. But when the Mice further
debated who among them should thus “bell the Cat,” there was no one
found to do it.

The Wolf and the Housedog

A Wolf, meeting a big well-fed Mastiff with a wooden collar about
his neck asked him who it was that fed him so well and yet compelled
him to drag that heavy log about wherever he went. “The master,” he
replied. Then said the Wolf: “May no friend of mine ever be in such
a plight; for the weight of this chain is enough to spoil the appetite.”

The Rivers and the Sea

The Rivers joined together to complain to the Sea, saying, “Why is
it that when we flow into your tides so potable and sweet, you work
in us such a change, and make us salty and unfit to drink?” The Sea,
perceiving that they intended to throw the blame on him, said, “Pray
cease to flow into me, and then you will not be made briny.”

The Playful Ass

An Ass climbed up to the roof of a building, and frisking about there,
broke in the tiling. The owner went up after him and quickly drove
him down, beating him severely with a thick wooden cudgel. The Ass
said, “Why, I saw the Monkey do this very thing yesterday, and you
all laughed heartily, as if it afforded you very great amusement.”

The Three Tradesmen

A great city was besieged, and its inhabitants were called together
to consider the best means of protecting it from the enemy. A Bricklayer
earnestly recommended bricks as affording the best material for an
effective resistance. A Carpenter, with equal enthusiasm, proposed
timber as a preferable method of defense. Upon which a Currier stood
up and said, “Sirs, I differ from you altogether: there is no material
for resistance equal to a covering of hides; and nothing so good as

Every man for himself.

The Master and His Dogs

A certain man, detained by a storm in his country house, first of
all killed his sheep, and then his goats, for the maintenance of his
household. The storm still continuing, he was obliged to slaughter
his yoke oxen for food. On seeing this, his Dogs took counsel together,
and said, “It is time for us to be off, for if the master spare not
his oxen, who work for his gain, how can we expect him to spare us?’

He is not to be trusted as a friend who mistreats his own family.

The Wolf and the Shepherds

A Wolf, passing by, saw some Shepherds in a hut eating a haunch of
mutton for their dinner. Approaching them, he said, “What a clamor
you would raise if I were to do as you are doing!”

The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat

The Dolphins and Whales waged a fierce war with each other. When the
battle was at its height, a Sprat lifted its head out of the waves
and said that he would reconcile their differences if they would accept
him as an umpire. One of the Dolphins replied, “We would far rather
be destroyed in our battle with each other than admit any interference
from you in our affairs.”

The Ass Carrying the Image

An Ass once carried through the streets of a city a famous wooden
Image, to be placed in one of its Temples. As he passed along, the
crowd made lowly prostration before the Image. The Ass, thinking that
they bowed their heads in token of respect for himself, bristled up
with pride, gave himself airs, and refused to move another step. The
driver, seeing him thus stop, laid his whip lustily about his shoulders
and said, “O you perverse dull-head! it is not yet come to this, that
men pay worship to an Ass.”

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

The Two Travelers and the Axe

Two men were journeying together. One of them picked up an axe that
lay upon the path, and said, “I have found an axe.” “Nay, my friend,”
replied the other, “do not say ‘I,’ but ‘We’ have found an axe.” They
had not gone far before they saw the owner of the axe pursuing them,
and he who had picked up the axe said, “We are undone.” “Nay,” replied
the other, “keep to your first mode of speech, my friend; what you
thought right then, think right now. Say ‘I,’ not ‘We’ are undone.”

He who shares the danger ought to share the prize.

The Old Lion

A Lion, worn out with years and powerless from disease, lay on the
ground at the point of death. A Boar rushed upon him, and avenged
with a stroke of his tusks a long-remembered injury. Shortly afterwards
the Bull with his horns gored him as if he were an enemy. When the
Ass saw that the huge beast could be assailed with impunity, he let
drive at his forehead with his heels. The expiring Lion said, “I have
reluctantly brooked the insults of the brave, but to be compelled
to endure such treatment from thee, a disgrace to Nature, is indeed
to die a double 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 off.

In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.

The Ass and His Masters

An Ass, belonging to an herb-seller who gave him too little food and
too much work made a petition to Jupiter to be released from his present
service and provided with another master. Jupiter, after warning him
that he would repent his request, caused him to be sold to a tile-maker.
Shortly afterwards, finding that he had heavier loads to carry and
harder work in the brick-field, he petitioned for another change of
master. Jupiter, telling him that it would be the last time that he
could grant his request, ordained that he be sold to a tanner. The
Ass found that he had fallen into worse hands, and noting his master’s
occupation, said, groaning: “It would have been better for me to have
been either starved by the one, or to have been overworked by the
other of my former masters, than to have been bought by my present
owner, who will even after I am dead tan my hide, and make me useful
to him.”

The Oak and the Reeds

A very large Oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream.
It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: “I wonder how you,
who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong
winds.” They replied, “You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently
you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before the least
breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.”

Stoop to conquer.

The Fisherman and the Little Fish

A Fisherman who lived on the produce of his nets, one day caught a
single small Fish as the result of his day’s labor. The Fish, panting
convulsively, thus entreated for his life: “O Sir, what good can I
be to you, and how little am I worth? I am not yet come to my full
size. Pray spare my life, and put me back into the sea. I shall soon
become a large fish fit for the tables of the rich, and then you can
catch me again, and make a handsome profit of me.” The Fisherman replied,
“I should indeed be a very simple fellow if, for the chance of a greater
uncertain profit, I were to forego my present certain gain.”

The Hunter and the Woodman

A Hunter, not very bold, was searching for the tracks of a Lion. He
asked a man felling oaks in the forest if he had seen any marks of
his footsteps or knew where his lair was. “I will,” said the man,
“at once show you the Lion himself.” The Hunter, turning very pale
and chattering with his teeth from fear, replied, “No, thank you.
I did not ask that; it is his track only I am in search of, not the
Lion himself.”

The hero is brave in deeds as well as words.

The Wild Boar and the Fox

A Wild Boar stood under a tree and rubbed his tusks against the trunk.
A Fox passing by asked him why he thus sharpened his teeth when there
was no danger threatening from either huntsman or hound. He replied,
“I do it advisedly; for it would never do to have to sharpen my weapons
just at the time I ought to be using them.”

The Lion in a Farmyard

A Lion entered a farmyard. The Farmer, wishing to catch him, shut
the gate. When the Lion found that he could not escape, he flew upon
the sheep and killed them, and then attacked the oxen. The Farmer,
beginning to be alarmed for his own safety, opened the gate and released
the Lion. On his departure the Farmer grievously lamented the destruction
of his sheep and oxen, but his wife, who had been a spectator to all
that took place, said, “On my word, you are rightly served, for how
could you for a moment think of shutting up a Lion along with you
in your farmyard when you know that you shake in your shoes if you
only hear his roar at a distance?’ Mercury and the Sculptor

Mercury once determined to learn in what esteem he was held among
mortals. For this purpose he assumed the character of a man and visited
in this disguise a Sculptor’s studio having looked at various statues,
he demanded the price of two figures of Jupiter and Juno. When the
sum at which they were valued was named, he pointed to a figure of
himself, saying to the Sculptor, “You will certainly want much more
for this, as it is the statue of the Messenger of the Gods, and author
of all your gain.” The Sculptor replied, “Well, if you will buy these,
I’ll fling you that into the bargain.”

The Swan and the Goose

A certain rich man bought in the market a Goose and a Swan. He fed
the one for his table and kept the other for the sake of its song.
When the time came for killing the Goose, the cook went to get him
at night, when it was dark, and he was not able to distinguish one
bird from the other. By mistake he caught the Swan instead of the
Goose. The Swan, threatened with death, burst forth into song and
thus made himself known by his voice, and preserved his life by his

The Swollen Fox

A very hungry Fox, seeing some bread and meat left by shepherds in
the hollow of an oak, crept into the hole and made a hearty meal.
When he finished, he was so full that he was not able to get out,
and began to groan and lament his fate. Another Fox passing by heard
his cries, and coming up, inquired the cause of his complaining. On
learning what had happened, he said to him, “Ah, you will have to
remain there, my friend, until you become such as you were when you
crept in, and then you will easily get out.”

The Fox and the Woodcutter

A Fox, running before the hounds, came across a Woodcutter felling
an oak and begged him to show him a safe hiding-place. The Woodcutter
advised him to take shelter in his own hut, so the Fox crept in and
hid himself in a corner. The huntsman soon came up with his hounds
and inquired of the Woodcutter if he had seen the Fox. He declared
that he had not seen him, and yet pointed, all the time he was speaking,
to the hut where the Fox lay hidden. The huntsman took no notice of
the signs, but believing his word, hastened forward in the chase.
As soon as they were well away, the Fox departed without taking any
notice of the Woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached
him, saying, “You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and
yet you leave me without a word of thanks.” The Fox replied, “Indeed,
I should have thanked you fervently if your deeds had been as good
as your words, and if your hands had not been traitors to your speech.”

The Birdcatcher, the Partridge, and the Cock

A Birdcatcher was about to sit down to a dinner of herbs when a friend
unexpectedly came in. The bird-trap was quite empty, as he had caught
nothing, and he had to kill a pied Partridge, which he had tamed for
a decoy. The bird entreated earnestly for his life: “What would you
do without me when next you spread your nets? Who would chirp you
to sleep, or call for you the covey of answering birds?’ The Birdcatcher
spared his life, and determined to pick out a fine young Cock just
attaining to his comb. But the Cock expostulated in piteous tones
from his perch: “If you kill me, who will announce to you the appearance
of the dawn? Who will wake you to your daily tasks or tell you when
it is time to visit the bird-trap in the morning?’ He replied, “What
you say is true. You are a capital bird at telling the time of day.
But my friend and I must have our dinners.”

Necessity knows no law.

The Monkey and the Fishermen

A Monkey perched upon a lofty tree saw some Fishermen casting their
nets into a river, and narrowly watched their proceedings. The Fishermen
after a while gave up fishing, and on going home to dinner left their
nets upon the bank. The Monkey, who is the most imitative of animals,
descended from the treetop and endeavored to do as they had done.
Having handled the net, he threw it into the river, but became tangled
in the meshes and drowned. With his last breath he said to himself,
“I am rightly served; for what business had I who had never handled
a net to try and catch fish?’

The Flea and the Wrestler

A Flea settled upon the bare foot of a Wrestler and bit him, causing
the man to call loudly upon Hercules for help. When the Flea a second
time hopped upon his foot, he groaned and said, “O Hercules! if you
will not help me against a Flea, how can I hope for your assistance
against greater antagonists?’

The Two Frogs

Two Frogs dwelt in the same pool. When the pool dried up under the
summer’s heat, they left it and set out together for another home.
As they went along they chanced to pass a deep well, amply supplied
with water, and when they saw it, one of the Frogs said to the other,
“Let us descend and make our abode in this well: it will furnish us
with shelter and food.” The other replied with greater caution, “But
suppose the water should fail us. How can we get out again from so
great a depth?’

Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.

The Cat and the Mice

A certain house was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this, made
her way into it and began to catch and eat them one by one. Fearing
for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their holes. The
Cat was no longer able to get at them and perceived that she must
tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose she jumped upon
a peg, and suspending herself from it, pretended to be dead. One of
the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and said, “Ah, my good madam,
even though you should turn into a meal-bag, we will not come near

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 profit.

The Doe and the Lion

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

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

The Farmer and the Fox

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

The Seagull and the Kite

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

Every man should be content to mind his own business.

The Philosopher, the Ants, and Mercury

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

The Mouse and the Bull

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

The Dancing Monkeys

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

The Fox and the Leopard

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

The Monkeys and Their Mother

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

The best intentions will not always ensure success.

The Oaks and Jupiter

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

The Hare and the Hound

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

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

The Lamp

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


The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass

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

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

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

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

The Oak and the Woodcutter

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 branches.”

Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.

The Hen and the Golden Eggs

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

The Ass and the Frogs

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

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

The Crow and the Raven

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

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

The Trees and the Axe

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

The Crab and the Fox

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

Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness.

The Woman and Her Hen

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

The Ass and the Old Shepherd

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

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

The Kites and the Swans

The 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

The Hares and the Foxes

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

Count the cost before you commit yourselves.

The Bowman and Lion

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

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

The Camel

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

Use serves to overcome dread.

The Wasp and the Snake

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

The Stag, the Wolf, and the Sheep

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

Two blacks do not make one white.

The Peacock and the Crane

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

Fine feathers don’t make fine birds.

The Fox and the Hedgehog

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

The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow

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

The Thief and the Innkeeper

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

Every tale is not to be believed.

The Mule

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

The Hart and the Vine

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

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

The Wolf and the Fox

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

The Walnut-Tree

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

The Gnat and the Lion

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

The Monkey and the Dolphin

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

The Jackdaw and the Doves

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

The Horse and the Stag

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

The Kid and the Wolf

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

The Prophet

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

The Fox and the Monkey

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

A false tale often betrays itself.

The Thief and the Housedog

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

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 afterwards.”

Counsel without help is useless.

The Ass and the Wolf

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

The Seller of Images

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

The Fox and the Grapes

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

The Man and His Wife

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

Straws show how the wind blows.

The Peacock and Juno

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

The Hawk and the Nightingale

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

The Dog, the Cock, and the Fox

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

The Wolf and the Goat

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

The Lion and the Bull

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

The Goat and the Ass

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

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

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

The Fishermen

Some Fishermen were out trawling their nets. Perceiving them to be
very heavy, they danced about for joy and supposed that they had taken
a large catch. When they had dragged the nets to the shore they found
but few fish: the nets were full of sand and stones, and the men were
beyond measure cast 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 your belly.”

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

The Brother and the Sister

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

The Wasps, the Partridges, and the Farmer

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

The Crow and Mercury

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

The North Wind and the Sun

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

Persuasion is better than Force.

The Two Men Who Were Enemies

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

The Gamecocks and the Partridge

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

The Quack Frog

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

The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox

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

The Dog’s House

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

The Wolf and the Lion

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


The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat

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

The Spendthrift and the Swallow

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

The Fox and the Lion

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

The Owl and the Birds

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

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner

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

The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

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

The Sparrow and the Hare

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

The Flea and the Ox

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

The Goods and the Ills

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

The Dove and the Crow

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

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

The Eagle and the Jackdaw

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

The Fox and the Crane

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

Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and Momus

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

The Eagle and the Fox

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

The Man and the Satyr

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

The Ass and His Purchaser

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

A man is known by the company he keeps.

The Two Bags

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

The Stag At the Pool

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

What is most truly valuable is often underrated.

The Jackdaw and the Fox

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

The Lark Burying Her Father

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

Youth’s first duty is reverence to parents.

The Gnat and the Bull

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

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

The Bitch and Her Whelps

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

The Dogs and the Hides

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

Attempt not impossibilities.

The Shepherd and the Sheep

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

The Grasshopper and the Owl

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

The Monkey and the Camel

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

It is absurd to ape our betters.

The Peasant and the Apple-Tree

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

Self-interest alone moves some men.

The Two Soldiers and the Robber

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

The Trees Under the Protection of the Gods

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

The Mother and the Wolf

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

The Ass and the Horse

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

Truth and the Traveler

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

The Manslayer

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

The Lion and the Fox

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

The Lion and the Eagle

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

Try before you trust.

The Hen and the Swallow

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

The Buffoon and the Countryman

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

The Crow and the Serpent

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

The Hunter and the Horseman

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

The King’s Son and the Painted Lion

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

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

The Cat and Venus

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

Nature exceeds nurture.

The She-Goats and Their Beards

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

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

The Camel and the Arab

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

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass

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

The Crow and the Sheep

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

The Fox and the Bramble

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

The Wolf and the Lion

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

The Dog and the Oyster

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

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

The Ant and the Dove

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

The Partridge and the Fowler

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

The Flea and the Man

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

The Thieves and the Cock

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

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

The Dog and the Cook

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

The Travelers and the Plane-Tree

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

Some men underrate their best blessings.

The Hares and the Frogs

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

The Lion, Jupiter, and the Elephant

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

The Lamb and the Wolf

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

The Rich Man and the Tanner

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

The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea

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

The Mules and the Robbers

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

The Viper and the File

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

The Lion and the Shepherd

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

The Camel and Jupiter

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

The Panther and the Shepherds

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

The Ass and the Charger

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

The Eagle and His Captor

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

The Bald Man and the Fly

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

The Olive-Tree and the Fig-Tree

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

The Eagle and the Kite

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

The Ass and His Driver

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

The Thrush and the Fowler

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

The Rose and the Amaranth

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

The Frogs’ Complaint Against the Sun

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


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Translation of “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus” by Augustus is
copyright (C) Thomas Bushnell, BSG.