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Aesop’s Fables

The Swan and the Goose

The Fox and the Woodcutter

A CERTAIN rich man bought in the market a Goose and a A FOX, running before the hounds, came across a Woodcut-Swan. He fed the one for his table and kept the other for ter felling an oak and begged him to show him a safe hid-the sake of its song. When the time came for killing the ing-place. The Woodcutter advised him to take shelter in Goose, the cook went to get him at night, when it was his own hut, so the Fox crept in and hid himself in a corner.

dark, and he was not able to distinguish one bird from the The huntsman soon came up with his hounds and inquired other. By mistake he caught the Swan instead of the Goose.

of the Woodcutter if he had seen the Fox. He declared that The Swan, threatened with death, burst forth into song he had not seen him, and yet pointed, all the time he was and thus made himself known by his voice, and preserved speaking, to the hut where the Fox lay hidden. The hunts-his life by his melody.

man took no notice of the signs, but believing his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were well away, the Fox departed without taking any notice of the The Swollen Fox

Woodcutter: whereon he called to him and reproached him, saying, “You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, A VERY HUNGRY FOX, seeing some bread and meat left by and yet you leave me without a word of thanks.” The Fox shepherds in the hollow of an oak, crept into the hole and replied, “Indeed, I should have thanked you fervently if made a hearty meal. When he finished, he was so full that your deeds had been as good as your words, and if your he was not able to get out, and began to groan and lament hands had not been traitors to your speech.” his fate. Another Fox passing by heard his cries, and coming up, inquired the cause of his complaining. On learning what had happened, he said to him, “Ah, you will have to remain there, my friend, until you become such as you were when you crept in, and then you will easily get out.” 49

Aesop’s Fables

The Birdcatcher, the Partridge, and the Cock The Monkey and the Fishermen

A BIRDCATCHER was about to sit down to a dinner of herbs A MONKEY perched upon a lofty tree saw some Fishermen when a friend unexpectedly came in. The bird-trap was quite casting their nets into a river, and narrowly watched their empty, as he had caught nothing, and he had to kill a pied proceedings. The Fishermen after a while gave up fishing, Partridge, which he had tamed for a decoy. The bird en-and on going home to dinner left their nets upon the bank.

treated earnestly for his life: “What would you do without The Monkey, who is the most imitative of animals, de-me when next you spread your nets? Who would chirp you scended from the treetop and endeavored to do as they to sleep, or call for you the covey of answering birds?” The had done. Having handled the net, he threw it into the Birdcatcher spared his life, and determined to pick out a river, but became tangled in the meshes and drowned. With fine young Cock just attaining to his comb. But the Cock his last breath he said to himself, “I am rightly served; for expostulated in piteous tones from his perch: “If you kill what business had I who had never handled a net to try me, who will announce to you the appearance of the dawn?

and catch fish?’

Who will wake you to your daily tasks or tell you when it is time to visit the bird-trap in the morning?” He replied,

“What you say is true. You are a capital bird at telling the The Flea and the Wrestler

time of day. But my friend and I must have our dinners.” A FLEA settled upon the bare foot of a Wrestler and bit Necessity knows no law.

him, causing the man to call loudly upon Hercules for help.

When the Flea a second time hopped upon his foot, he groaned and said, “O Hercules! if you will not help me against a Flea, how can I hope for your assistance against greater antagonists?’


Aesop’s Fables

The Two Frogs

The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

TWO FROGS dwelt in the same pool. When the pool dried up A LION and a Bear seized a Kid at the same moment, and under the summer’s heat, they left it and set out together fought fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully for another home. As they went along they chanced to pass lacerated each other and were faint from the long combat, a deep well, amply supplied with water, and when they saw they lay down exhausted with fatigue. A Fox, who had gone it, one of the Frogs said to the other, “Let us descend and round them at a distance several times, saw them both make our abode in this well: it will furnish us with shelter stretched on the ground with the Kid lying untouched in and food.” The other replied with greater caution, “But the middle. He ran in between them, and seizing the Kid suppose the water should fail us. How can we get out again scampered off as fast as he could. The Lion and the Bear from so great a depth?’

saw him, but not being able to get up, said, “Woe be to us, that we should have fought and belabored ourselves only Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.

to serve the turn of a Fox.”

It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and The Cat and the Mice

another all the profit.

A CERTAIN HOUSE was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this, made her way into it and began to catch and eat The Doe and the Lion

them one by one. Fearing for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their holes. The Cat was no longer able to A DOE hard pressed by hunters sought refuge in a cave get at them and perceived that she must tempt them forth belonging to a Lion. The Lion concealed himself on seeing by some device. For this purpose she jumped upon a peg, her approach, but when she was safe within the cave, sprang and suspending herself from it, pretended to be dead. One upon her and tore her to pieces. “Woe is me,” exclaimed the of the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and said, “Ah, Doe, “who have escaped from man, only to throw myself my good madam, even though you should turn into a meal-into the mouth of a wild beast?”

bag, we will not come near you.”

In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into another.


Aesop’s Fables

The Farmer and the Fox

indulging in these reflections, he found himself surrounded by a whole army of Ants, near whose nest he was standA FARMER, who bore a grudge against a Fox for robbing his ing. One of them climbed up and stung him, and he imme-poultry yard, caught him at last, and being determined to diately trampled them all to death with his foot. Mercury take an ample revenge, tied some rope well soaked in oil to presented himself, and striking the Philosopher with his his tail, and set it on fire. The Fox by a strange fatality wand, said, “And are you indeed to make yourself a judge rushed to the fields of the Farmer who had captured him. It of the dealings of Providence, who hast thyself in a similar was the time of the wheat harvest; but the Farmer reaped manner treated these poor Ants?’

nothing that year and returned home grieving sorely.

The Mouse and the Bull

The Seagull and the Kite

A BULL was bitten by a Mouse and, angered by the wound, A SEAGULL having bolted down too large a fish, burst its tried to capture him. But the Mouse reached his hole in deep gullet-bag and lay down on the shore to die. A Kite safety. Though the Bull dug into the walls with his horns, saw him and exclaimed: “You richly deserve your fate; for a he tired before he could rout out the Mouse, and crouching bird of the air has no business to seek its food from the sea.” down, went to sleep outside the hole. The Mouse peeped out, crept furtively up his flank, and again biting him, re-Every man should be content to mind his own business.

treated to his hole. The Bull rising up, and not knowing what to do, was sadly perplexed. At which the Mouse said,

“The great do not always prevail. There are times when the The Philosopher, the Ants, and Mercury

small and lowly are the strongest to do mischief.” A PHILOSOPHER witnessed from the shore the shipwreck of a vessel, of which the crew and passengers were all drowned.

He inveighed against the injustice of Providence, which would for the sake of one criminal perchance sailing in the ship allow so many innocent persons to perish. As he was 52

Aesop’s Fables

The Lion and the Hare

The Image of Mercury and the Carpenter

A LION came across a Hare, who was fast asleep. He was A VERY POOR MAN, a Carpenter by trade, had a wooden just in the act of seizing her, when a fine young Hart trot-image of Mercury, before which he made offerings day by ted by, and he left the Hare to follow him. The Hare, scared day, and begged the idol to make him rich, but in spite of by the noise, awoke and scudded away. The Lion was un-his entreaties he became poorer and poorer. At last, being able after a long chase to catch the Hart, and returned to very angry, he took his image down from its pedestal and feed upon the Hare. On finding that the Hare also had run dashed it against the wall. When its head was knocked off, off, he said, “I am rightly served, for having let go of the out came a stream of gold, which the Carpenter quickly food that I had in my hand for the chance of obtaining picked up and said, “Well, I think thou art altogether con-more.”

tradictory and unreasonable; for when I paid you honor, I reaped no benefits: but now that I maltreat you I am loaded with an abundance of riches.”

The Peasant and the Eagle

A PEASANT found an Eagle captured in a trap, and much The Bull and the Goat

admiring the bird, set him free. The Eagle did not prove ungrateful to his deliverer, for seeing the Peasant sitting A BULL, escaping from a Lion, hid in a cave which some under a wall which was not safe, he flew toward him and shepherds had recently occupied. As soon as he entered, a with his talons snatched a bundle from his head. When the He-Goat left in the cave sharply attacked him with his Peasant rose in pursuit, the Eagle let the bundle fall again.

horns. The Bull quietly addressed him: “Butt away as much Taking it up, the man returned to the same place, to find as you will. I have no fear of you, but of the Lion. Let that that the wall under which he had been sitting had fallen to monster go away and I will soon let you know what is the pieces; and he marveled at the service rendered him by the respective strength of a Goat and a Bull.”


It shows an evil disposition to take advantage of a friend in distress.


Aesop’s Fables

The Dancing Monkeys

affection and care, but hates and neglects the other. It happened once that the young one which was caressed and A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being natu-loved was smothered by the too great affection of the rally great mimics of men’s actions, they showed themselves Mother, while the despised one was nurtured and reared in most apt pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and spite of the neglect to which it was exposed.

masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on The best intentions will not always ensure success.

one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and threw them upon the stage.

The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts forgot their dancing The Oaks and Jupiter

and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they THE OAKS presented a complaint to Jupiter, saying, “We fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing spec-bear for no purpose the burden of life, as of all the trees tacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule that grow we are the most continually in peril of the axe.” of the audience.

Jupiter made answer: “You have only to thank yourselves The Fox and the Leopard

for the misfortunes to which you are exposed: for if you did not make such excellent pillars and posts, and prove THE FOX and the Leopard disputed which was the more beau-yourselves so serviceable to the carpenters and the farm-tiful of the two. The Leopard exhibited one by one the ers, the axe would not so frequently be laid to your roots.” various spots which decorated his skin. But the Fox, interrupting him, said, “And how much more beautiful than you am I, who am decorated, not in body, but in mind.” The Hare and the Hound

A HOUND started a Hare from his lair, but after a long run, The Monkeys and Their Mother

gave up the chase. A goat-herd seeing him stop, mocked him, saying “The little one is the best runner of the two.” THE MONKEY, it is said, has two young ones at each birth.

The Hound replied, “You do not see the difference between The Mother fondles one and nurtures it with the greatest us: I was only running for a dinner, but he for his life.” 54

Aesop’s Fables

The Traveler and Fortune

The Shepherd and the Dog

A TRAVELER wearied from a long journey lay down, over-A SHEPHERD penning his sheep in the fold for the night come with fatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just was about to shut up a wolf with them, when his Dog peras he was about to fall into the water, Dame Fortune, it is ceiving the wolf said, “Master, how can you expect the sheep said, appeared to him and waking him from his slumber to be safe if you admit a wolf into the fold?’

thus addressed him: “Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will be thrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure The Lamp

to impute their calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really brought them on themselves.” A LAMP, soaked with too much oil and flaring brightly, boasted that it gave more light than the sun. Then a sud-Everyone is more or less master of his own fate.

den puff of wind arose, and the Lamp was immediately ex-tinguished. Its owner lit it again, and said: “Boast no more, but henceforth be content to give thy light in silence. Know The Bald Knight

that not even the stars need to be relit”

A BALD KNIGHT, who wore a wig, went out to hunt. A sudden puff of wind blew off his hat and wig, at which a loud laugh rang forth from his companions. He pulled up his horse, and with great glee joined in the joke by saying,

“What a marvel it is that hairs which are not mine should fly from me, when they have forsaken even the man on whose head they grew.”


Aesop’s Fables

The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass

The Bull, the Lioness, and the Wild-Boar


THE LION, the Fox and the Ass entered into an agreement to assist each other in the chase. Having secured a large A BULL finding a lion’s cub asleep gored him to death with booty, the Lion on their return from the forest asked the his horns. The Lioness came up, and bitterly lamented the Ass to allot his due portion to each of the three partners in death of her whelp. A wild-boar Hunter, seeing her dis-the treaty. The Ass carefully divided the spoil into three tress, stood at a distance and said to her, “Think how many equal shares and modestly requested the two others to men there are who have reason to lament the loss of their make the first choice. The Lion, bursting out into a great children, whose deaths have been caused by you.” rage, devoured the Ass. Then he requested the Fox to do him the favor to make a division. The Fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and left to him-The Oak and the Woodcutters

self the smallest possible morsel.

The Lion said, “Who has taught you, my very excellent THE WOODCUTTER cut down a Mountain Oak and split it in fellow, the art of division? You are perfect to a fraction.” pieces, making wedges of its own branches for dividing the He replied, “I learned it from the Ass, by witnessing his trunk. The Oak said with a sigh, “I do not care about the fate.”

blows of the axe aimed at my roots, but I do grieve at being torn in pieces by these wedges made from my own Happy is the man who learns from the misfortunes of others.


Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.


Aesop’s Fables

The Hen and the Golden Eggs

The Crow and the Raven

A COTTAGER and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg A CROW was jealous of the Raven, because he was consid-every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great ered a bird of good omen and always attracted the atten-lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they tion of men, who noted by his flight the good or evil course killed it. Having done so, they found to their surprise that of future events. Seeing some travelers approaching, the the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The Crow flew up into a tree, and perching herself on one of the foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, de-branches, cawed as loudly as she could. The travelers turned prived themselves of the gain of which they were assured towards the sound and wondered what it foreboded, when day by day.

one of them said to his companion, “Let us proceed on our journey, my friend, for it is only the caw of a crow, and her cry, you know, is no omen.”

The Ass and the Frogs

Those who assume a character which does not belong to AN ASS, carrying a load of wood, passed through a pond.

them, only make themselves ridiculous.

As he was crossing through the water he lost his footing, stumbled and fell, and not being able to rise on account of his load, groaned heavily. Some Frogs frequenting the pool The Trees and the Axe

heard his lamentation, and said, “What would you do if you had to live here always as we do, when you make such A MAN came into a forest and asked the Trees to provide a fuss about a mere fall into the water?”

him a handle for his axe. The Trees consented to his request and gave him a young ash-tree. No sooner had the Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they man fitted a new handle to his axe from it, than he began do large misfortunes.

to use it and quickly felled with his strokes the noblest giants of the forest. An old oak, lamenting when too late the destruction of his companions, said to a neighboring cedar, “The first step has lost us all. If we had not given up the rights of the ash, we might yet have retained our own privileges and have stood for ages.”


Aesop’s Fables

The Crab and the Fox

The Ass and the Old Shepherd

A CRAB, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green A SHEPHERD, watching his Ass feeding in a meadow, was meadow as its feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and alarmed all of a sudden by the cries of the enemy. He ap-being very hungry ate him up. Just as he was on the point pealed to the Ass to fly with him, lest they should both be of being eaten, the Crab said, “I well deserve my fate, for captured, but the animal lazily replied, “Why should I, pray?

what business had I on the land, when by my nature and Do you think it likely the conqueror will place on me two habits I am only adapted for the sea?’

sets of panniers?”

“No,” rejoined the Shepherd.

Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness.

“Then,” said the Ass, “as long as I carry the panniers, what matters it to me whom I serve?’

The Woman and Her Hen

In a change of government the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master.

A WOMAN possessed a Hen that gave her an egg every day.

She often pondered how she might obtain two eggs daily instead of one, and at last, to gain her purpose, determined The Kites and the Swans

to give the Hen a double allowance of barley. From that day the Hen became fat and sleek, and never once laid an-TEE KITES of olden times, as well as the Swans, had the other egg.

privilege of song. But having heard the neigh of the horse, they were so enchanted with the sound, that they tried to imitate it; and, in trying to neigh, they forgot how to sing.

The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings.


Aesop’s Fables

The Wolves and the Sheepdogs

The Bowman and Lion

THE WOLVES thus addressed the Sheepdogs: “Why should A VERY SKILLFUL BOWMAN went to the mountains in search you, who are like us in so many things, not be entirely of of game, but all the beasts of the forest fled at his ap-one mind with us, and live with us as brothers should? We proach. The Lion alone challenged him to combat. The Bow-differ from you in one point only. We live in freedom, but man immediately shot out an arrow and said to the Lion: “I you bow down to and slave for men, who in return for your send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayest learn services flog you with whips and put collars on your necks.

what I myself shall be when I assail thee.” The wounded They make you also guard their sheep, and while they eat Lion rushed away in great fear, and when a Fox who had the mutton throw only the bones to you. If you will be seen it all happen told him to be of good courage and not persuaded by us, you will give us the sheep, and we will to back off at the first attack he replied: “You counsel me enjoy them in common, till we all are surfeited.” The Dogs in vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I listened favorably to these proposals, and, entering the abide the attack of the man himself?’

den of the Wolves, they were set upon and torn to pieces.

Be on guard against men who can strike from a distance.

The Hares and the Foxes

The Camel

THE HARES waged war with the Eagles, and called upon the Foxes to help them. They replied, “We would willingly have WHEN MAN first saw the Camel, he was so frightened at his helped you, if we had not known who you were, and with vast size that he ran away. After a time, perceiving the whom you were fighting.”

meekness and gentleness of the beast’s temper, he summoned courage enough to approach him. Soon afterwards, Count the cost before you commit yourselves.

observing that he was an animal altogether deficient in spirit, he assumed such boldness as to put a bridle in his mouth, and to let a child drive him.

Use serves to overcome dread.


Aesop’s Fables

The Wasp and the Snake

way by which he could manage to pass. “Save yourself the trouble,” said the Bull; “I knew that way long before you A WASP seated himself upon the head of a Snake and, strik-were born.”

ing him unceasingly with his stings, wounded him to death.

The Snake, being in great torment and not knowing how to The Stag, the Wolf, and the Sheep

rid himself of his enemy, saw a wagon heavily laden with wood, and went and purposely placed his head under the A STAG asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat, and wheels, saying, “At least my enemy and I shall perish to-said that the Wolf would be his surety. The Sheep, fearing gether.”

some fraud was intended, excused herself, saying, “The Wolf is accustomed to seize what he wants and to run off; and The Dog and the Hare

you, too, can quickly outstrip me in your rapid flight. How then shall I be able to find you, when the day of payment A HOUND having started a Hare on the hillside pursued her comes?’

for some distance, at one time biting her with his teeth as if he would take her life, and at another fawning upon her, Two blacks do not make one white.

as if in play with another dog. The Hare said to him, “I wish you would act sincerely by me, and show yourself in The Peacock and the Crane

your true colors. If you are a friend, why do you bite me so hard? If an enemy, why do you fawn on me?’

A PEACOCK spreading its gorgeous tail mocked a Crane that passed by, ridiculing the ashen hue of its plumage and say-No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust or ing, “I am robed, like a king, in gold and purple and all the distrust him.

colors of the rainbow; while you have not a bit of color on your wings.”

The Bull and the Calf

“True,” replied the Crane; “but I soar to the heights of heaven and lift up my voice to the stars, while you walk A BULL was striving with all his might to squeeze himself below, like a cock, among the birds of the dunghill.” through a narrow passage which led to his stall. A young Calf came up, and offered to go before and show him the Fine feathers don’t make fine birds.


Aesop’s Fables

The Fox and the Hedgehog

The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow

A FOX swimming across a rapid river was carried by the force AN EAGLE made her nest at the top of a lofty oak; a Cat, of the current into a very deep ravine, where he lay for a having found a convenient hole, moved into the middle of long time very much bruised, sick, and unable to move. A the trunk; and a Wild Sow, with her young, took shelter in swarm of hungry blood-sucking flies settled upon him. A a hollow at its foot. The Cat cunningly resolved to destroy Hedgehog, passing by, saw his anguish and inquired if he this chance-made colony. To carry out her design, she should drive away the flies that were tormenting him. “By climbed to the nest of the Eagle, and said, “Destruction is no means,” replied the Fox; “pray do not molest them.” preparing for you, and for me too, unfortunately. The Wild

“How is this?” said the Hedgehog; “do you not want to Sow, whom you see daily digging up the earth, wishes to be rid of them?”

uproot the oak, so she may on its fall seize our families as

“No,” returned the Fox, “for these flies which you see are food for her young.”

full of blood, and sting me but little, and if you rid me of Having thus frightened the Eagle out of her senses, she these which are already satiated, others more hungry will crept down to the cave of the Sow, and said, “Your children come in their place, and will drink up all the blood I have are in great danger; for as soon as you go out with your left.”

litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to pounce upon one of your little pigs.”

Having instilled these fears into the Sow, she went and pretended to hide herself in the hollow of the tree. When night came she went forth with silent foot and obtained food for herself and her kittens, but feigning to be afraid, she kept a lookout all through the day. Meanwhile, the Eagle, full of fear of the Sow, sat still on the branches, and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did not dare to go out from her cave. And thus they both, along with their families, perished from hunger, and afforded ample provision for the Cat and her kittens.


Aesop’s Fables

The Thief and the Innkeeper

the inn.

A THIEF hired a room in a tavern and stayed a while in the Every tale is not to be believed.

hope of stealing something which should enable him to pay his reckoning. When he had waited some days in vain, he saw the Innkeeper dressed in a new and handsome coat The Mule

and sitting before his door. The Thief sat down beside him and talked with him. As the conversation began to flag, A MULE, frolicsome from lack of work and from too much the Thief yawned terribly and at the same time