Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
287. THE FISHERMAN AND THE FISH
Perry 18 (Avianus
There was a fisherman who was in the habit of catching his prey on the
hook of his fishing line. One time he reeled in the trifling weight of
a tiny fish which he had snagged. He lifted the fish up into the air and
stabbed it with a piercing wound through its gaping mouth. The fish then
burst into tears and pleaded with the man. 'Please spare me,' he said.
'After all, what sort of profit will you get from my body? My fertile
mother just now spawned me down in the rocky caves, sending me to play
in the waters that are the fishes' domain. Put aside this threat, and
allow me my slender young body to grow fat for your table. This same strand
of the shore will give me back to you again, and I will voluntarily return
to your fishing rod a little while from now, fatter for having fed on
the blue waters of the boundless sea.' The fisherman said that it was
absolutely forbidden to let a fish go once it had been caught, and he
complained that good deeds are often not rewarded when left up to chance.
Finally the man concluded, 'It's bad business to ever surrender any possible
gain, and even more foolish to start over again in hopes of greater profits.'
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.