Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 900 words.
Fable #314 THE ASTRONOMER AND THE THRACIAN WOMAN
When Thales the astronomer was gazing up at the sky, he fell into a pit. A Thracian slave woman, who was both wise and witty, is said to have made fun of him for being eager to know what was happening over his head while failing to notice what was right there at his feet.
Fable #316 THE SOOTHSAYER AND THE THEFT
There was a soothsayer who used to sit in the marketplace and
predict the future. Someone suddenly appeared and told the soothsayer that the
doors of his house had been forced open and that everything inside had been
stolen. The soothsayer groaned and sprang to his feet, rushing off to his house.
Someone saw him running and said, 'Hey you! You claim to be able to tell what
is going to happen to other people in advance, so why were you not able to predict
your own future?'
This is a fable for people who do a poor job of managing their own lives but who nevertheless make pronouncements about things that are none of their business.
Fable #434 THE MAN AND THE GOLDEN EGGS
man had a hen that laid a golden egg for him each and every day. The man was
not satisfied with this daily profit, and instead he foolishly grasped for more.
Expecting to find a treasure inside, the man slaughtered the hen. When he found
that the hen did not have a treasure inside her after all, he remarked to himself,
'While chasing after hopes of a treasure, I lost the profit I held in my hands!'
The fable shows that people often grasp for more than they need and thus lose the little they have.
Fable #75 THE SNAKE AND THE FARMER
was a snake who used to lurk around the front door of a farmer's house. [As
a result, the farmer became very rich.] One day the snake struck the man's son,
biting him on the foot. The boy died on the spot. The boy's parents were filled
with immense sorrow and the grief-stricken father seized his axe and tried to
kill the malevolent snake. When the snake fled his pursuer, the man hurried
after him, raising his weapon, determined to strike, but as the farmer was about
to deal the snake a deadly blow, he missed and managed only to cut off the tip
of his tail. The man was terrified at the thought that he might have killed
the snake, so he took cakes and water along with honey and salt and called to
the snake, wanting to make peace with him. The snake, however, only hissed softly
at the farmer from where he had hidden himself in the rocks and said: 'Man,
do not trouble yourself any longer: there can be no possible friendship between
us any more. When I look upon my tail, I am in pain. The same is true for you:
whenever you look again upon the grave of your son, you will not be able to
live in peace with me.'
The fable shows that no one can put aside thoughts of hatred or revenge so long as he sees a reminder of the pain that he suffered.
Fable #438 THE LION AND THE FARMER
A lion entered a farmer's yard and the farmer, wanting to capture
the lion, shut the outer gate. The lion, unable to get out, first devoured all
the sheep and then turned his attention to the cattle. The farmer became afraid
for his own safety so he opened the door. After the lion had gone away, the
farmer's wife saw the farmer groaning and said to him, 'It serves you right!
Why did you want to shut yourself up with the sort of creature you should run
away from, even at a distance?'
In the same way people who provoke those stronger than themselves must naturally suffer the consequences of their mistake.
Fable #440 THE FARMER AND THE FROZEN VIPER
A farmer picked up a viper that was half-dead from the cold. When the farmer had warmed the viper, the viper uncoiled and grabbed hold of the man's hand and with a fatal bite, he killed the man who had wanted to save him. As he was dying, the man spoke some words that are well worth remembering: 'Well, I got what I deserve for having shown kindness to a scoundrel!'
Fable #584 THE BALD MAN AND HIS TWO MISTRESSES
There are all kinds of stories showing us how women habitually
strip a man of his possessions, regardless of whether they are in love with
him or he with them.
There was a woman who had a middle-aged man as her lover and although she was no spring chicken herself, she concealed her age with exquisite grace. There was also a beautiful young girl who had caught the man's fancy. Both women wanted to seem a suitable partner for him, so they began plucking out his hair in turn. The man imagined that his looks were being improved by their attentions but in the end he went bald, since the young girl plucked out every one of his gray hairs, while the older woman plucked out all the black ones.
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.
This work is licensed under a Creative
You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial
purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute
the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.