Reading time: 6 minutes. Word count: 1300 words.
Fable #104 THE FOX AND THE RAVEN
A story about a fox and a raven which urges us not to trust
anyone who is trying to deceive us.
The raven seized a piece of cheese and carried his spoils up to his perch high in a tree. A fox came up and walked in circles around the raven, planning a trick. 'What is this?' cried the fox. 'O raven, the elegant proportions of your body are remarkable, and you have a complexion that is worthy of the king of the birds! If only you had a voice to match, then you would be first among the fowl!' The fox said these things to trick the raven and the raven fell for it: he let out a great squawk and dropped his cheese. By thus showing off his voice, the raven let go of his spoils. The fox then grabbed the cheese and said, 'O raven, you do have a voice, but no brains to go with it!'
If you follow your enemies' advice, you will get hurt.
Fable #46 THE WOLF AND THE CRANE
If you think a scoundrel will reward you for a job well
done, you are making two mistakes: first, you are helping someone who doesn't
deserve it, and second, you will be lucky to escape unharmed.
A wolf swallowed a bone which got stuck in his throat. The pain was excruciating, so the wolf started looking for someone who could be induced to remove the accursed thing in exchange for a reward. The wolf asked each of the animals if they would help him and finally the crane was convinced by the wolf's solemn promises. Trusting her long beak to the wolf's gaping maw, the crane carried out the dangerous cure. Yet when the crane demanded the promised reward, the wolf simply said, 'You ungrateful creature! You extracted your head unharmed from my mouth and still you ask for a reward?'
Fable #355 THE LION AND THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER
A story about a lion and a young woman, which teaches us
not to indulge our desires.
A lion who had fallen in love with a young woman went to the woman's father to ask for her hand in marriage. The father was afraid to refuse the lion's offer, but asked him first to have his teeth and claws taken out; otherwise the lion could only arouse his daughter's terror. The lion was so in love with the woman that he agreed to the bargain. When the lion came back and approached the farmer, now naked and defenceless, the farmer clubbed him to death.
If you follow your enemies' advice, you will run into danger.
Fable #262 THE STAG AND HIS REFLECTION
stag had grown thirsty and went to a spring in order to drink some water. When
he saw the reflection of his body in the water, he disparaged the slenderness
of his legs but revelled in the shape and size of his horns. All of a sudden,
some hunters appeared and began to chase him. As the stag ran along the level
ground of the plain, he outdistanced his pursuers and beat them to the marsh
by the river. Without thinking about what he was doing, the stag kept on going,
but his horns became tangled in the overhanging branches and he was captured
by the hunters. The stag groaned and said, 'Woe is me, wretched creature that
I am! The thing that I disparaged could have saved me, while I have been destroyed
by the very thing I boasted about.'
This fable shows that people should not praise themselves for something unless it is useful and beneficial.
Fable #263 THE DOG, THE MEAT AND THE REFLECTION
dog seized some meat from the butcher shop and ran away with it until he came
to a river. When the dog was crossing the river, he saw the reflection of the
meat in the water, and it seemed much larger than the meat he was carrying.
He dropped his own piece of meat in order to try to snatch at the reflection.
When the reflection disappeared, the dog went to grab the meat he had dropped
but he was not able to find it anywhere, since a passing raven had immediately
grabbed the meat and gobbled it up. The dog lamented his sorry condition and
said, 'Woe is me! I foolishly abandoned what I had, in order to snatch at a
phantom, and thus I ended up losing both that phantom and what I had to begin
This fable is about greedy people who grasp at more than they need.
Fable #323 THE FARMERS, THE DONKEY AND THE LION SKIN
story about a donkey, urging us not to yearn for more than we deserve.
A donkey wanted to appear to be a lion. Since he could not change his nature, he tried to realize his dreams by a change of costume, and like a lion he wreaked havoc on the fruits of the farmers' labour. But when a gust of wind blew up, it stripped the lion bare of his disguise. As soon as the farmers whose crops he had eaten saw that he was just a donkey, they came and clubbed him to death.
Adornments that do not belong to you can be dangerous.
Fable #338 THE DONKEY AND THE PET DOG
donkey used to see the master's pet puppy dog fawning on him day in and day
out. The puppy ate his fill of food from the master's table and was also given
many treats by the household servants. The donkey said to himself, 'If my master
and all the servants are so fond of that nasty little dog, then imagine what
will happen if I do as the dog does. After all, I am better than a dog, much
more talented and useful in so many ways! Yes, pure water from the sacred fountains
will be mine to drink, and elegant food will be mine to eat, since I am far
superior to that little dog. It is time for me to enjoy the finer things in
life and to command the respect of everyone around me!'
As the donkey was reflecting on his situation, he saw the master coming in. He let out a great 'hee-haw' and quickly ran to meet him, leaping up and putting his two front feet on his master's shoulders, licking the master with his tongue and tearing the master's clothes with his hooves. The master collapsed under the donkey's weight and at the sound of the master's shout all the servants came running. They grabbed sticks and stones and attacked the donkey, beating him senseless and breaking his back and his legs. Then they chased him off to the stables, exhausted and barely alive.
Unworthy people should not try to usurp the position of their superiors.
Fable #126 THE ANT AND THE CRICKET
During the wintertime, an ant was living off the grain that
he had stored up for himself during the summer. The cricket came to the ant
and asked him to share some of his grain. The ant said to the cricket, 'And
what were you doing all summer long, since you weren't gathering grain to eat?'
The cricket replied, 'Because I was busy singing I didn't have time for the
harvest.' The ant laughed at the cricket's reply, and hid his heaps of grain
deeper in the ground. 'Since you sang like a fool in the summer,' said the ant,
'you better be prepared to dance the winter away!'
This fable depicts lazy, careless people who indulge in foolish pastimes, and therefore lose out.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Laura Gibbs, translator. Aesop's Fables (2003). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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