Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
131. THE HAWK AND THE NIGHTINGALE
Perry 4 (Hesiod,
Works and Days 202 ff.)
This is how the hawk addressed the dapple-throated nightingale as he
carried her high into the clouds, holding her tightly in his talons. As
the nightingale sobbed pitifully, pierced by the hawk's crooked talons,
the hawk pronounced these words of power, 'Wretched creature, what are
you prattling about? You are in the grip of one who is far stronger than
you, and you will go wherever I may lead you, even if you are a singer.
You will be my dinner, if that's what I want, or I might decide to let
It is a foolish man who thinks he can oppose people who are more powerful
he is: he will be defeated in the contest, suffering both pain and humiliation.
account of the hawk and the nightingale is the oldest attested Aesopic
fable in Greek literature (c. the eighth century B.C.E.). I have taken
the last two lines as an epimythium, rather than including them as part
of the hawk's speech to the nightingale. Hesiod's treatment of this
fable (and the final lines) has been much discussed; for a recent assessment,
see van Dijk 2F1.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.