Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
278. THE DONKEY WHO CARRIED THE GOD
Perry 182 (Chambry
A man had placed a carved image on his donkey and was leading him along.
Many people bowed down when they met them along the way. The donkey grew
arrogant, thinking that the country folk were bowing down before him,
so he began to leap and prance. As he did so, the donkey almost threw
the image of the god from his back. The donkey's master beat him with
a stick and said, 'You are a donkey carrying a god on your back, but that
does not mean you deserve to be worshipped as a god!'
This fable can be used for vulgar people who attribute to themselves
the honour that is paid to others.
Note: This image was proverbial (e.g., Aristophanes,
Frogs 160: 'I am the donkey bearing the divine mysteries') and provides
a comic scene in Apuleius,
The Golden Ass 8.24, when the donkey Lucius is travelling with the
priests of Cybele, bearing the goddess's image on his back. For another
donkey in the service of these priests, see Fable 6.
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.