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

Perry 544 (Phaedrus App. 16)

There were two young men who both wanted to marry the same girl. The well-off young man won the prize, since the poor man had nothing more to offer than his good name and good looks. When the appointed wedding day arrived, the grief-stricken lover was unable to endure the heartbreak and hid himself away in his country home just outside the city. This poor man's home happened to be located quite near the rich man's opulent manor, the future home of that young bride who was now about to leave her mother's care forever (the groom's house in the city had not seemed sufficiently large for the occasion). The wedding procession unfolded, with a large crowd of guests in attendance and Hymen, the god of marriage, leading the way, the wedding torch in his hand. There was also a donkey standing at the threshold of the gate, who was regularly put out for hire by the poor man, his owner, and it just so happened that the family of the bride had decided to hire this very donkey so that the bride would not bruise her feet on the rough road. At this moment, Venus, the goddess of love, showed her compassion: the clouds in the sky were tossed by the winds and a crack of thunder shook the heavens. As grim night descended with a dense downpour of rain, the light was snatched from everyone's eyes and the terrified party guests were pelted with hail as they scattered in all directions. While everyone ran in search of shelter from the storm, the donkey scampered under a familiar roof that he found nearby, and announced his arrival with a loud 'hee-haw.' The household slaves came running up and were amazed to see a beautiful young woman in the wagon. They then went to inform their master, who was reclining with a few of his friends at the table, trying to cheer his broken heart with one cup of wine after another. When the man heard what had happened, he rejoiced at this unexpected pleasure. Incited now by both Bacchus and Venus, the man joyfully completed the wedding ceremony, applauded by his companions. Meanwhile, the family of the bride sent the town crier to look for her, while the erstwhile groom lamented his runaway bride. When the turn of events became known to the general public, they all praised the good will of the gods.

Note: There is a promythium appended to the fable in Perotti's Appendix: 'The fable shows that fortune can occasionally bestow favours that exceed a person's hopes and expectations.' Bacchus was the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.

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.