<< Home Page | Oxford (Gibbs) Index

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

Perry 506 (Phaedrus 3.15)

A dog met a lamb who was bleating among the she-goats and said, 'You fool, your mother is not here.' As he spoke, the dog pointed to a separate flock of sheep grazing in the distance. 'I do not want that mother!' said the lamb. 'She conceives when it is her pleasure, carries her unknown burden for a certain number of months, and in the end she simply lets go and plops her bundle on the ground. No, I am looking for the mother who offers me her udder and feeds me, and even cheats her own children of milk so that I will not go hungry.' 'Still, the one who gave birth to you is more important,' said the dog. 'Not correct,' replied the lamb. 'Was it some great favour that she brought me into the world when I might expect the arrival of the butcher at any moment? Could she even be certain whether I would be born black or white? And if perhaps she would have preferred a girl, what would she have thought of me, since I am a boy? Given that she took no decision in the matter of my conception, why should I now prefer that mother to the mother who took pity on me as I was lying there and who freely offers me her sweet affection?'
Parents are determined by love, not fate.

Note: There are an additional two lines sometimes printed with the poem which most editors reject as spurious. Those lines read: 'With this poem the author wanted to show that people resist laws but are favourably inclined to acts of good will.'

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.