Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
514. ZEUS AND MAN
Perry 311 (Chambry
They say that in the beginning, when the animals were being formed, they
received their endowments from Zeus. To some he gave strength, and to
some speed, and to others wings. Man, however, was still naked so he said
to Zeus, 'I am the only one that you have left without a gift.' Zeus replied,
'You are unaware of the gift you have obtained, but it is the greatest
gift of all: you have received the gift of speech and the ability to reason,
which has power both among the gods and among mortals; it is stronger
than the strong and swifter than the swift.' Man then recognized the gift
he had been given and bowed down before Zeus, offering him thanks.
The fable shows that while we have all been honoured by God with the
gift of speech and reason, there are some who are unaware of this great
honour and are instead jealous of the animals even though the animals
lack both speech and sense.
Note: The gift given to mankind is called logos in Greek, which refers
both to speech and to rational thought. The Greeks regularly referred
to animals as aloga, or lacking in logos. This Greek phrase thus has
a double meaning much like the English expression 'dumb animals,' which
is used to indicate animals who are both speechless and (supposedly)
stupid. For a different account of the creation, see Plato,
Protagoras 320C ff., where the defenceless human race is armed by
Prometheus with fire.
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.