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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

3.12. Of the serpent
(Perry 93)

The Auctor that is to wete Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable of two euyls / sayeng that a serpent entryd somtyme within the forge of a smythe / for to serche somme mete for her dyner / It happed / that she fond a fyle whiche she beganne to gnawe with her teethe / Thenne sayd the fyle to her / yf thow byte and gnawe me / yet shalt thow doo to me no hurte / but bytynge and gnawyng on me / thow shalt hurte thyn owne self / For by my strengthe alle the yron is planed by me / And therfore thow arte a foole to gnawe me /
For I telle the / that none euyll may hurte ne adommage another as euylle as he / Ne none wycked may hurte another wycked / ne also the hard ageynst the hard shalle not breke eche other / ne two enuyous men shal not both ryde vpon an asse / wherfor the myghty and stronge must loue hym whiche is as myghty and as stronge as hym self is

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.