Aesop's Fables by Aesop - HTML preview

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The Farmer laughed aloud and said, “It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, THE POMEGRANATE and Apple-Tree disputed as to which the Cranes, and you must die in their company.” was the most beautiful. When their strife was at its height, a Bramble from the neighboring hedge lifted up its voice, Birds of a feather flock together.

and said in a boastful tone: “Pray, my dear friends, in my presence at least cease from such vain disputings.” THE FARMER AND THE SNAKE

ONE WINTER a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with THE FARMER AND THE STORK

cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, in-caught a number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed.

flicting on him a mortal wound. “Oh,” cried the Farmer with With them he trapped a Stork that had fractured his leg in his last breath, “I am rightly served for pitying a scoun-the net and was earnestly beseeching the Farmer to spare drel.”

his life.

“Pray save me, Master,” he said, “and let me go free this The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.

once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers—they are not the least like those of a Crane.”


Aesop’s Fables



A YOUNG FAWN once said to his Mother, “You are larger THE SWALLOW and the Crow had a contention about their than a dog, and swifter, and more used to running, and plumage. The Crow put an end to the dispute by saying, you have your horns as a defense; why, then, O Mother! do

“Your feathers are all very well in the spring, but mine pro-the hounds frighten you so?”

tect me against the winter.”

She smiled, and said: “I know full well, my son, that all you say is true. I have the advantages you mention, but Fair weather friends are not worth much.

when I hear even the bark of a single dog I feel ready to faint, and fly away as fast as I can.”


No arguments will give courage to the coward.

A MOUNTAIN was once greatly agitated. Loud groans and noises were heard, and crowds of people came from all parts THE BEAR AND THE FOX

to see what was the matter. While they were assembled in anxious expectation of some terrible calamity, out came a A BEAR boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that Mouse.

of all animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had such respect for him that he would not even Don’t make much ado about nothing.

touch his dead body. A Fox hearing these words said with a smile to the Bear, “Oh! that you would eat the dead and not the living.”


Aesop’s Fables



THE ASS and the Fox, having entered into partnership to-A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the gether for their mutual protection, went out into the for-sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to est to hunt. They had not proceeded far when they met a fly.

Lion. The Fox, seeing imminent danger, approached the Lion An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and de-and promised to contrive for him the capture of the Ass if manded what reward she would give him if he would take the Lion would pledge his word not to harm the Fox. Then, her aloft and float her in the air.

upon assuring the Ass that he would not be injured, the

“I will give you,” she said, “all the riches of the Red Sea.” Fox led him to a deep pit and arranged that he should fall

“I will teach you to fly then,” said the Eagle; and taking into it. The Lion, seeing that the Ass was secured, immedi-her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds ately clutched the Fox, and attacked the Ass at his leisure.

suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces.

The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: “I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?’

If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.


Aesop’s Fables


The Lion replied: “This statue was made by one of you men. If we Lions knew how to erect statues, you would see A NUMBER of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which the Man placed under the paw of the Lion.”

had been overturned in a housekeeper’s room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became One story is good, till another is told.

so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, “O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have de-THE FARMER AND THE CRANES

stroyed ourselves.”

SOME CRANES made their feeding grounds on some Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.

plowlands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the Farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any THE MAN AND THE LION

notice of it and would not move. The Farmer, on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great num-A MAN and a Lion traveled together through the forest.

ber. The remaining birds at once forsook his fields, crying They soon began to boast of their respective superiority to each other, “It is time for us to be off to Liliput: for this to each other in strength and prowess. As they were dis-man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show puting, they passed a statue carved in stone, which repre-us in earnest what he can do.”

sented “a Lion strangled by a Man.” The traveler pointed to it and said: “See there! How strong we are, and how we If words suffice not, blows must follow.

prevail over even the king of beasts.”


Aesop’s Fables


The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying himself with the Goat’s horns, he safely A DOG lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he prevented the oxen from eating the hay which had been could.

placed for them.

When the Goat upbraided him for breaking his promise,

“What a selfish Dog!” said one of them to his compan-he turned around and cried out, “You foolish old fellow! If ions; “he cannot eat the hay himself, and yet refuses to you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in allow those to eat who can.”

your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to T

dangers from which you had no means of escape.” HE FOX AND THE GOAT

A FOX one day fell into a deep well and could find no means Look before you leap.

of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good.

Concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend.

The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a scheme for their common escape. “If,” said he, “you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards.” 17

Aesop’s Fables



TWO MEN were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly A HEAVY WAGON was being dragged along a country lane met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly by a team of Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, terribly; whereupon the Oxen, turning round, thus ad-seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, dressed the wheels: “Hullo there! Why do you make so much and when the Bear came up and felt him with his snout, noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the out.”

appearance of death as much as he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When Those who suffer most cry out the least.

he was quite gone, the other Traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear.


“He gave me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of danger.”

water painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwit-Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.

tingly dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders.

Zeal should not outrun discretion.


Aesop’s Fables



A RAVEN saw a Swan and desired to secure for himself the A MISER sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, same beautiful plumage. Supposing that the Swan’s splen-which he buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an did white color arose from his washing in the water in which old wall and went to look at daily. One of his workmen he swam, the Raven left the altars in the neighborhood observed his frequent visits to the spot and decided to where he picked up his living, and took up residence in the watch his movements. He soon discovered the secret of lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he the hidden treasure, and digging down, came to the lump would, he could not change their color, while through want of gold, and stole it. The Miser, on his next visit, found the of food he perished.

hole empty and began to tear his hair and to make loud lamentations. A neighbor, seeing him overcome with grief Change of habit cannot alter Nature.

and learning the cause, said, “Pray do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite the same THE GOAT AND THE GOATHERD

service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did not make the slightest use of it.”

A GOATHERD had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock. He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the strag-gler paid no attention to the summons. At last the Goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its horn, begged the Goat not to tell his master. The Goat replied, “Why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak though I be silent.”

Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid.


Aesop’s Fables



A LION, unable from old age and infirmities to provide him-A GROOM used to spend whole days in currycombing and self with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He rubbing down his horse, but at the same time stole his returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be oats and sold them for his own profit. “Alas!” said the Horse, sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known.

“if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to groom me less, and feed me more.”

his den, where the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was.

“I am very middling,” replied the Lion, “but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me.”

“No, thank you,” said the Fox. “I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning.”

He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.


Aesop’s Fables


myself! Why could I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not wish to be idle all the day like A MAN had an Ass, and a Maltese Lapdog, a very great that useless little Lapdog!”

beauty. The Ass was left in a stable and had plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass would. The Lapdog knew many tricks and was a great favorite with his master, who often fondled him and seldom went out to dine with-THE LIONESS

out bringing him home some tidbit to eat. The Ass, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding the corn-mill A CONTROVERSY prevailed among the beasts of the field as and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the to which of the animals deserved the most credit for pro-farm. He often lamented his own hard fate and contrasted ducing the greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed it with the luxury and idleness of the Lapdog, till at last clamorously into the presence of the Lioness and demanded one day he broke his cords and halter, and galloped into of her the settlement of the dispute. “And you,” they said, his master’s house, kicking up his heels without measure,

“how many sons have you at a birth?”

and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried The Lioness laughed at them, and said: “Why! I have only to jump about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred Lion.” but he broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then attempted to lick his master, and jumped The value is in the worth, not in the number.

upon his back. The servants, hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his stable with kicks and clubs and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned to his stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: “I have brought it all on 21

Aesop’s Fables



A MAN who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, A YOUNG PIG was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and a on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful Sheep. On one occasion when the shepherd laid hold of and heroic feats he had performed in the different places him, he grunted and squeaked and resisted violently. The he had visited. Among other things, he said that when he Sheep and the Goat complained of his distressing cries, say-was at Rhodes he had leaped to such a distance that no ing, “He often handles us, and we do not cry out.” man of his day could leap anywhere near him as to that, To this the Pig replied, “Your handling and mine are very there were in Rhodes many persons who saw him do it and different things. He catches you only for your wool, or whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders your milk, but he lays hold on me for my very life.” interrupted him, saying: “Now, my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS

Rhodes, and leap for us.”


A BOY put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped HE CAT AND THE COCK

as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to A CAT caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the reasonable excuse for eating him. He accused him of being neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet a nuisance to men by crowing in the nighttime and not unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bit-permitting them to sleep. The Cock defended himself by terly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to saying that he did this for the benefit of men, that they him, “Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily might rise in time for their labors. The Cat replied, “Al-draw out your hand.”

though you abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless”; and he made a meal of him.

Do not attempt too much at once.


Aesop’s Fables


endeavored to make peace, and placed some bread and salt in the hole. The Snake, slightly hissing, said: “There can A LION demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in mar-henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever I see you riage. The Father, unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to refuse I shall remember the loss of my tail, and whenever you see his request, hit upon this expedient to rid himself of his me you will be thinking of the death of your son.” importunities. He expressed his willingness to accept the Lion as the suitor of his daughter on one condition: that No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him who he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off his caused the injury.

claws, as his daughter was fearfully afraid of both. The Lion cheerfully assented to the proposal. But when the tooth-less, clawless Lion returned to repeat his request, the THE WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Woodman, no longer afraid, set upon him with his club, ONCE UPON A TIME a Wolf resolved to disguise his appear-and drove him away into the forest.

ance in order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the THE LABORER AND THE SNAKE

shepherd by his costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the A SNAKE, having made his hole close to the porch of a cot-entrance made thoroughly secure. But the shepherd, re-tage, inflicted a mortal bite on the Cottager’s infant son.

turning to the fold during the night to obtain meat for the Grieving over his loss, the Father resolved to kill the Snake.

next day, mistakenly caught up the Wolf instead of a sheep, The next day, when it came out of its hole for food, he and killed him instantly.

took up his axe, but by swinging too hastily, missed its head and cut off only the end of its tail. After some time Harm seek. Harm find.

the Cottager, afraid that the Snake would bite him also, 23

Aesop’s Fables



A MULETEER set forth on a journey, driving before him an THE FROGS, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent Ass and a Mule, both well laden. The Ass, as long as he ambassadors to Jupiter entreating for a King. Perceiving traveled along the plain, carried his load with ease, but their simplicity, he cast down a huge log into the lake. The when he began to ascend the steep path of the mountain, Frogs were terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall and felt his load to be more than he could bear. He entreated hid themselves in the depths of the pool. But as soon as his companion to relieve him of a small portion, that he they realized that the huge log was motionless, they swam might carry home the rest; but the Mule paid no attention again to the top of the water, dismissed their fears, climbed to the request. The Ass shortly afterwards fell down dead up, and began squatting on it in contempt. After some under his burden. Not knowing what else to do in so wild a time they began to think themselves ill-treated in the ap-region, the Muleteer placed upon the Mule the load carried pointment of so inert a Ruler, and sent a second deputa-by the Ass in addition to his own, and at the top of all tion to Jupiter to pray that he would set over them an-placed the hide of the Ass, after he had skinned him. The other sovereign. He then gave them an Eel to govern them.

Mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself: When the Frogs discovered his easy good nature, they sent

“I am treated according to my deserts. If I had only been yet a third time to Jupiter to beg him to choose for them willing to assist the Ass a little in his need, I should not still another King. Jupiter, displeased with all their com-now be bearing, together with his burden, himself as well.” plaints, sent a Heron, who preyed upon the Frogs day by day till there were none left to croak upon the lake.


Aesop’s Fables



SOME BOYS, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs in A PEDDLER drove his Ass to the seashore to buy salt. His the water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed road home lay across a stream into which his Ass, making a several of them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his head false step, fell by accident and rose up again with his load out of the water, cried out: “Pray stop, my boys: what is considerably lighter, as the water melted the sack. The Ped-sport to you, is death to us.”

dler retraced his steps and refilled his panniers with a larger quantity of salt than before. When he came again to the stream, the Ass fell down on purpose in the same spot, and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained what THE SICK STAG

he desired. The Peddler saw through his trick and drove him for the third time to the coast, where he bought a A SICK STAG lay down in a quiet corner of its pasture-ground.

cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again playing His companions came in great numbers to inquire after his the fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream, health, and each one helped himself to a share of the food but the sponges became swollen with water, greatly in-which had been placed for his use; so that he died, not creasing his load. And thus his trick recoiled on him, for he from his sickness, but from the failure of the means of liv-now carried on his back a double burden.


Evil companions bring more hurt than profit.


Aesop’s Fables





THE OXEN once upon a time sought to destroy the Butch-A LION, fatigued by the heat of a summer’s day, fell fast ers, who practiced a trade destructive to their race. They asleep in his den. A Mouse ran over his mane and ears and assembled on a certain day to carry out their purpose, and woke him from his slumbers. He rose up and shook himself sharpened their horns for the contest. But one of them in great wrath, and searched every corner of his den to who was exceedingly old (for many a field had he plowed) find the Mouse. A Fox seeing him said: “A fine Lion you are, thus spoke: “These Butchers, it is true, slaughter us, but to be frightened of a Mouse.”

they do so with skillful hands, and with no unnecessary

“’Tis not the Mouse I fear,” said the Lion; “I resent his pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the hands of familiarity and ill-breeding.”

unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death: for you may be assured, that though all the Butchers should Little liberties are great offenses.

perish, yet will men never want beef.”

Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another.


Aesop’s Fables



JUPITER DETERMINED, it is said, to create a sovereign over the birds, and made proclamation that on a certain day A GOATHERD, driving his flock from their pasture at even-they should all present themselves before him, when he tide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut would himself choose the most beautiful among them to them up together with his own for the night. The next day be king. The Jackdaw, knowing his own ugliness, searched it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to through the woods and fields, and collected the feathers their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them which had fallen from the wings of his companions, and in the fold. He gave his own goats just sufficient food to stuck them in all parts of his body, hoping thereby to make keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in himself the most beautiful of all. When the appointed day the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making arrived, and the birds had assembled before Jupiter, the them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to Jackdaw also made his appearance in his many feathered feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they finery. But when Jupiter proposed to make him king be-could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded them for cause of the beauty of his plumage, the birds indignantly their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he protested, and each plucked from him his own feathers, had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of leaving the Jackdaw nothing but a Jackdaw.

them, turning about, said to him: “That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves.”

Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.


Aesop’s Fables


sembled a good many Foxes and publicly advised them to cut off their tails, saying that they would not only look A DOG used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he much better without them, but that they would get rid of met, and to bite them without notice. His master suspended the weight of the brush, which was a very great inconve-a bell about his neck so that the Dog might give notice of nience. One of them interrupting him said, “If you had not his presence wherever he went. Thinking it a mark of dis-yourself lost your tail, my friend, you would not thus coun-tinction, the Dog grew proud of his bell and went tinkling sel us.”

it all over the marketplace. One day an old hound said to him: Why do you make such an exhibition of yourself? That bell that you carry is not, believe me, any order of merit, THE BOY AND THE NETTLES

but on the contrary a mark of disgrace, a public notice to A BOY was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told his all men to avoid you as an ill mannered dog.” Mother, saying, “Although it hurts me very much, I only touched it gently.”

Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.

“That was just why it stung you,” said his Mother. “The next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you.” THE FOX WHO HAD LOST HIS TAIL

Whatever you do, do with all your might.

A FOX caught in a trap escaped, but in so doing lost his tail. Thereafter, feeling his life a burden from the shame and ridicule to which he was exposed, he schemed to convince all the other Foxes that being tailless was much more attractive, thus making up for his own deprivation. He as-28

Aesop’s Fables


ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?”

A MIDDLE-AGED MAN, whose hair had begun to turn gray, courted two women at the same time. One of them was young, and the other well advanced in years. The elder THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP