Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
295. THE FARMER AND THE BIRDS
Perry 298 (Babrius
At the setting of the Pleiades, when it is time to sow the crops, there
was a certain farmer who had cast his wheat seed into the fresh earth.
He had to keep an eye on the field because an immense flock of squawking
jackdaws had arrived, and starlings too, that plague of seed sown in the
fields. Behind the farmer walked a boy, carrying an empty sling. The starlings
instinctively listened to hear when the farmer asked for the sling and
they flew away before he could hit them. The farmer then decided to take
another approach. He called the boy and told him what they were going
to do. 'My boy,' said the farmer, 'we must use a trick to defeat this
clever tribe of birds. So whenever they show up, I will ask you for bread,
but instead of bread you will give me the sling.' The starlings came back
and began pecking at the field. The farmer asked for bread, according
to the plan, and the starlings did not run away. The boy then filled the
sling with stones and gave it to the farmer. The old man began to stone
the birds, hitting one bird in the head, another in the leg, and another
in the shoulder, so that the birds all flew away from the field. They
happened to meet up with some cranes who asked them what had happened.
One of the jackdaws replied, 'Stay away from this wicked species of humans:
they have learned to say one thing while doing another.'
Note: An epimythium probably added by a
later editor reads: 'Beware the sort of person who uses tricks.'
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.