THE FOX AND THE DRAGON
While excavating her den, a fox dug a hole in the earth and as she made deeper
and deeper tunnels in the ground, she finally reached the cave of a dragon who
was guarding a hidden treasure. When the fox saw the dragon, she said, 'First
of all, I beg your pardon for this carelessness on my part; second, you no doubt
realize that gold means nothing to me, so I hope that you will be so kind as
to explain to me what profit you gain from this work, and what reward could
be so great that you would forgo the pleasure of sleep and live out your life
here in the dark?' 'I have no reward,' the dragon replied, 'but this task was
assigned to me by Jupiter on high.' 'Does that mean you take nothing for yourself
and do not give anything to anyone?' 'That is what the Fates have decreed.'
'Please don't be angry then if I speak freely,' concluded the fox, 'but someone
who lives like this must have been born under an unlucky star!'
Since you will soon depart to that place where those before you have gone,
why do you miserably torment yourself, blind to the truth? Yes, I am speaking
to you, you miser, who make your future heirs rejoice while depriving the gods
of incense and depriving yourself of food, you who are gloomy when you hear
the melody of the lyre, in agony when you hear the joyful sounds of the flute,
groaning at the cost of food. You stingy man, you save every penny for your
estate, burdening heaven with promises you do not mean to keep, while you cut
back on every possible funeral expense so that not even Libitina, the goddess
of undertakers, will profit from your death!