<< Home Page | Caxton Index

Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

2.1. Of the frogges and of Iupyter
(Perry 44)

No thyng is so good as to lyue Iustly and at lyberte For fredome and lyberte is better than ony gold or syluer / wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / There were frogges whiche were in dyches and pondes at theyre lyberte / they alle to gyder of one assente & of one wylle maade a request to Iupiter that he wold gyue them a kynge / And Iupyter beganne therof to merueylle / And for theyre kyng he casted to them a grete pyece of wood / whiche maade a grete sowne and noyse in the water / wherof alle the frogges had grete drede and fered moche / And after they approched to theyr kynge for to make obeyssaunce vnto hym / And whanne they perceyued that hit was but a pyece of wood / they torned ageyne to Iupiter prayenge hym swetely that he wold gyue to them another kynge / And Iupiter gaf to them the Heron for to be theyr kynge / And thenne the Heron beganne to entre in to the water / and ete them one after other / And whanne the frogges sawe that theyr kyng destroyed / and ete them thus / they beganne tendyrly to wepe / sayeng in this manere to the god Iupiter / Ryght hyghe and ryght myghty god Iupiter please the to delyuere vs fro the throte of this dragon and fals tyraunt whiche eteth vs the one after another / And he sayd to them / the kynge whiche ye haue demaunded shalle be your mayster /
For whan men haue that / which men oughte to haue / they ought to be ioyeful and glad And he that hath lyberte ought to kepe hit wel / For nothyng is better than lyberte / For lyberte shold not be wel sold for alle the gold and syluer of all the world

Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.