The Wolf and the Lamb
Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 700 words.
Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
THE WOLF AND THE LAMB (from the ancient Greek fable by Babrius; Fable #155)
A wolf once saw a lamb who had wandered away from the flock. He did not want to rush upon the lamb and seize him violently. Instead, he sought a reasonable complaint to justify his hatred. 'You insulted me last year, when you were small' said the wolf. The lamb replied, 'How could I have insulted you last year? I'm not even a year old.' The wolf continued, 'Well, are you not cropping the grass of this field which belongs to me?' The lamb said, 'No, I haven't eaten any grass; I have not even begun to graze.' Finally the wolf exclaimed, 'But didn't you drink from the fountain which I drink from?' The lamb answered, 'It is my mother's breast that gives me my drink.' The wolf then seized the lamb and as he chewed he said, 'You are not going to make this wolf go without his dinner, even if you are able to easily refute every one of my charges!'
Fables: Caxton (1484)
Of the wulf and of the lambe
Of the Innocent and of the shrewe Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable how it was so that the lambe and the wulf had bothe thurst and went bothe to a Ryuer for to drynke It happed that the wulf dranke aboue & the lambe dranke bynethe And as the wulf sawe and perceyued the lambe he sayd with a hyghe voys Ha knaue why hast thou troubled and fowled my water whiche I shold now drynke Allas my lord sauf your grece For the water cometh fro yow toward me Thenne sayd the wulf to the lambe Hast thow no shame ne drede to curse me And the lambe sayd My lord with your leue And the wulf sayd ageyne Hit is not syxe monethes passyd that thy fader dyd to me as moche And the lambe ansuerd yet was I not at that tyme born And the wlf said ageyne to hym Thou hast ete my fader And the lambe ansuerd I haue no teeth Thenne said the wulf thou arte wel lyke thy fader and for his synne & mysded thow shalt deye The wulf thenne toke the lambe and ete hym
This fable sheweth that the euylle man retcheth not by what maner he may robbe & destroye the good & innocent man
Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)
A WOLF AND A LAMB
a Wolf was lapping at the Head of a Fountain, he spy'd a Lamb paddling at the
same time a good way off down the Stream. The Wolf had no sooner the Prey in
his eye, but away he runs open-mouth to't. Villain (says he) how dare you lie
muddling the Water that I'm a drinking? Indeed, says the poor Lamb, I did not
think that my drinking here below could have foul'd your Water so far above.
Nay, says t'other, you'll never leave your chopping of Logick, till your Skin's
turn'd over your Ears, as your Father's was, a matter of six months ago, for
prating at this saucy rate; you remember it full well, Sirrah. If you'll believe
me, Sir, (quoth the innocent Lamb, with fear and trembling) I was not come into
the World then. Why thou Impudence, cries the Wolf, hast thou neither Shame
nor Conscience? But it runs in the Blood of your whole Race, Sirrah, to hate
our Family; and therefore since Fortune has brought us together so conveniently,
you shall e'en pay some of your Forefathers Scores before you and I part. And
so without any more ado, he leap'd at the Throat of the miserable helpless Lamb,
and tore him immediately to pieces.
THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE. 'Tis an easy Matter to find a Staff to beat a Dog. Innocence is no Protection against the arbitrary Cruelty of a tyrannical Power; But Reason and Conscience are yet so sacred, that the greatest Villanies are still countenanc'd under that Cloke and Colour.
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.