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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 460 (pseudo-Plutarch, Lives of the Ten Orators 848a)

They say that during an assembly in Athens, Demosthenes was prevented from making his speech, so he told the audience he wanted to say just a few words. When the audience had fallen silent, Demosthenes began his tale. 'It was summertime, and a young man had hired a donkey to take him from Athens to Megara. At midday, when the sun was blazing hot, the young man and the donkey's driver both wanted to sit in the donkey's shadow. They began to jostle one another, fighting for the spot in the shade. The driver maintained that the man had rented the donkey but not his shadow, while the young man claimed that he had rented both the donkey and all the rights thereto.' Having told this much of the story, Demosthenes then turned his back on the audience and began to walk away. The Athenians shouted at him to stop and begged him to finish the story. 'Indeed!' said Demosthenes. 'You want to hear all about the donkey's shadow, but you refuse to pay attention when someone talks to you about serious matters!'

Note: Demosthenes (d. 322 B.C.E.) was a renowned orator of fourth-century Athens. Megara is a Greek city on the Saronic Gulf to the west of Athens. The 'donkey's shadow' was an ancient cliche for something of trivial importance (see, for example, Plato, Phaedrus 260c and Aristophanes, Wasps 191).

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.