Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 1000 words.
Fable #30 THE WOLVES AND THE DOGS
The wolves wanted to make friends with the dogs, so they said,
'Since we have so much in common, why don't you treat us as your brothers and
friends? It is merely our attitude that divides us. We wolves all live a life
of freedom, while you dogs are the slaves of people who make you wear collars
around your necks and who beat you with sticks whenever it pleases them. And
that is not your only hardship: you even have to guard their flocks and, what's
worse, when they are eating their dinner, they toss you nothing but the bones
as your share. If you will agree to our bargain, you can turn everything over
to us and we'll eat our fill together.' Right away the dogs agreed, so the wolves
attacked the flock, and right away they killed the dogs, so that the flock could
not call out for help against the wolves.
The fable shows that these are the wages of people who betray their country.
Fable #31 THE WOLVES, THE SHEEP AND THE RAM
The wolves sent messengers to the sheep, offering to swear a sacred oath of everlasting peace if the sheep would just agree to hand over the dogs for punishment. It was all because of the dogs, said the wolves, that the sheep and the wolves were at war with one another. The flock of sheep, those foolish creatures who bleat at everything, were ready to send the dogs away but there was an old ram among them whose deep fleece shivered and stood on end. 'What kind of negotiation is this!' he exclaimed. 'How can I hope to survive in your company unless we have guards? Even now, with the dogs keeping watch, I cannot graze in safety.'
Fable #34 THE SHEPHERD AND THE WOLF CUBS
A shepherd found some wolf cubs and he brought them up, thinking
that the fully grown wolves would both guard his flock and steal other people's
sheep to bring back to his sheepfold. But when the cubs grew up, the first thing
they did was to destroy the man's own flock. The man groaned and said, 'It serves
me right! Why didn't I kill them when they were little?'
The story shows that when people harbor a criminal they become his first victims without even realizing it.
Fable #38 THE WOLF AND THE SHEPHERD
A wolf followed along after a flock of sheep without doing
them any harm. At first the shepherd kept his eye on the wolf as a potential
enemy to the flock and never let him out of his sight. But as the wolf continued
to accompany the shepherd and did not make any kind of attempt to raid the flock,
the shepherd eventually began to regard the wolf more as a guardian of the flock
than as a threat. Then, when the shepherd happened to have to go to town, he
commended the sheep to the wolf in his absence. The wolf seized his chance and
attacked the sheep, slaughtering most of the flock. When the shepherd came back
and saw that his flock had been utterly destroyed, he said, 'It serves me right!
How could I have ever trusted my sheep to a wolf?'
The same is true of people: if you entrust your bank deposits to greedy men, you are certain to get robbed.
Fable #58 THE BUTCHER AND THE FLOCK
Relatives and friends who cannot agree with one another
will come to a bad end, as the following fable tells us.
Some wethers had been gathered together in a flock with the rams. Although the sheep realized that the butcher had come into the flock, they pretended not to see him. Even when they saw one of their own seized by the butcher's deadly hands and taken away to be slaughtered, still the sheep were not afraid. Foolishly, they said to one another, 'He keeps his hands off me, he keeps his hands off you; let him take whom he takes.' In the end, there was only one sheep left. This is what he reportedly said to the butcher when he saw that he too was about to be taken away: 'We deserve to be slaughtered one after another since we didn't realize what was happening until it was too late. The fact is, as soon as we saw you here in our midst, back when we were all together, we should have killed you at once by smashing you between our horns.'
This fable shows that people who do not keep an eye out for their own safety will be utterly destroyed by evil.
Note: This fable is strikingly similar to the 'first they came' parable of Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984): 'First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.'
Fable #151 THE BOY WHO CRIED 'WOLF'
There was a boy tending the sheep who would continually go
up to the embankment and shout, 'Help, there's a wolf!' The farmers would all
come running only to find out that what the boy said was not true. Then one
day there really was a wolf but when the boy shouted, they didn't believe him
and no one came to his aid. The whole flock was eaten by the wolf.
The story shows that this is how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them.
Fable #392 THE SHEPHERDS, THE LAMB AND THE WOLF
This is one of Aesop's fables. A wolf saw some shepherds eating a lamb in their tent. He approached the shepherds and said, 'Why, what a great uproar there would be if I were to do the same thing!'
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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