TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

Loading
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
     
     
  Clodius Aesopus

Aesop's Fables

PART I, II, III, IV

Illustrations by H. Weir, J. Tenniel, E. Griset
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
  BACK NEXT    
 
 
     
 
 
 
Clodius Aesopus
 
 

Diego Velasquez, Aesop
  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Clodius (or Claudius) Aesopus was the most celebrated tragic actor of Ancient Rome in time of Cicero, that is, the 1st century BC, but the dates of his birth and death are not known. His name seems to show that he was a freedman of some member of the Clodian gens.

Cicero was on friendly terms with both him and Roscius, the equally distinguished comic actor, and did not disdain to profit by their instruction. Plutarch mentions it as reported of Aesopus, that, while representing Atreus deliberating how he should revenge himself on Thyestes, the actor forgot himself so far in the heat of action that with his truncheon he struck and killed one of the servants crossing the stage.

Horace and other authors put him on a level with Roscius. Each was preeminent in his own field; Roscius in comedy, being, with respect to action and delivery (pronuntiatio), more rapid; Aesopus in tragedy, being more weighty. Aesopus took great pains to perfect himself in his art by various methods. He dili­gently studied the exhibition of character in real life; and when any important trial was going on, especially, for example, when Hortensius was to plead, he was constantly in attendance, that he might watch and be able to represent the more truthfully the feelings which were actually dis­played on such occasions. He never, it is said, put on the mask for the cha­racter he had to perform in, without first looking at it attentively from a distance for some time, that so in performing he might preserve his voice and action in perfect keeping with the appearance he would have.Perhaps this anecdote may confirm the opinion that masks had only lately been introduced in the regular drama at Rome, and were not always used even for leading characters; for, according to Cicero, Aesopus excelled in power of face and fire of ex­pression, which of course would not have been visible if he had performed only with a mask.

From the whole passage in Cicero and from the anec­dotes recorded of him, his acting would seem to have been characterised chiefly by strong emphasis and vehemence. On the whole, Cicero calls him summus artifex, and says he was fitted to act a leading part no less in real life than on the stage. It does not appear that he ever performed in comedy. Valerius Maximus calls Aesopus and Roscius both "ludicrae artis peritissimos viros," but this may merely de­note the theatrical art in general, including tragedy as well as comedy.  Fronto calls him Tragicus Aesopus. From Cicero's remark, however, it would seem that the character of Ajax was rather too tragic for him.

 

Like Roscius, Aesopus enjoyed the intimacy of the great actor, who calls him noster Aesopus, noster familiaris; and they seem to have sought, from one an­ other's society, improvement, each in his respective art. During his exile, Cicero received many valuable marks of Aesopus's friendship. On one occasion, in particular, having to perform the part of Telamon, banished from his country, in one of Lucius Accius's plays, the tragedian, by his manner and skillful emphasis and an occasional change of a word, added to the evident reality of his feelings, and succeeded in leading the audience to apply the whole to the case of Cicero, and so did him more essential service than any direct defense of himself could have done. The whole house applauded. On another occasion, instead of "Brutus qui libertatem civium stabiliverat," he substituted Tullius, and the audience gave utterance to their enthusiasm by encoring the passage "a thousand times".

The time of his death or his age cannot be fixed with certainty; but at the dedication of the Theatre of Pompey in 55 BC, he would seem to have been elderly, for he was understood previously to have retired from the stage, and we do not hear of his being particularly delicate: yet, from the passage, ill-health or age would appear to have been the reason of his retiring. On that occasion, however, in honor of the festival, he appeared again; but just as he was coming to one of the most emphatic parts, the beginning of an oath, his voice failed him, and he could not go through with the speech. He was evidently unable to proceed, so that any one would readily have excused him: a thing which, as the passage in Cicero implies, a Roman audience would not do for ordinary performers. Aesopus, though far from frugal, realized, like Roscius, an immense fortune by his profession. He left about 200,000 sesterces to his son Clodius, who proved a foolish spendthrift. It is said, for instance, that he took a valuable pearl from the earring of Caecilia Metella, dissolved it in vinegar and drank it, a favorite feat of the extravagant monomania in Rome. The connection of Cicero's son-in-law Publius Cornelius Dolabella with the same lady no doubt increased the distress which Cicero felt at the dissolute proceedings of the son of his old friend.

 
 
 
 
Aesop's Fables

Aesopus

b. c.620 BCE (Greece), d 560 BCE

Aesop, according to legend, was a tongue-tied slave living on the Greek island of Samos, who miraculously received the power of speech, and subsequently won his freedom, only to be thrown to his death by the citizens of Delphi for insulting their oracle. But what we know as Aesop's Fables, is in reality a body of work from a huge variety of sources. Among the earliest recorded narratives, these stories have become embedded in the Western psyche, like the stories of Oedipus and Narcissus. Who isn't familiar, for example, with the story of "The Hare and the Tortoise," where the lazy hare is outrun, despite his speed, by the diligent tortoise? As well as stories about animals, Aesop's Fables contains tales about everyday people, as in the story of the boy who cried "wolf,"and it also gathers together jokes, paradoxes, parables, and "just so" stories; whatever the actual characters, the tone is always didactic."Zeus and the Camel" tells how, when the camel saw another animal's horns, she begged Zeus to give her horns as well, but Zeus was so angry at the camel's greediness, that instead he cropped her ears. In the story"Jupiter and the Frogs,"a famous parable about power, the frogs ask Jupiter for a king. Not content with the king he sends them at first, an easy-going log, they ask for a more powerful ruler, only to be sent a water-snake, who kills them off one by one.
The Fables remain very popular today, having been translated into languages all around the world, and a great many subsequent works of literature develop ideas first explored in them. Without the example of Aesop, the world would never have had The Romance of Reynard the Fox, and Kafka's The Metamorphosis would be inconceivable. There would be no Just So Stories by Kipling, and Orwell would never have written Nineteen Eighty-Four.
 
 
 
 

Aesop's Fables
 

Illustrations by H. Weir, J. Tenniel, E. Griset


 





Illustrations by H. Weir, J. Tenniel, E. Griset
 

Copyright, 1884,
By R. WORTHINGTON.
 


LIFE OF ÆSOP.

The Life and History of Æsop is involved, like that of Homer, the most famous of Greek poets, in much obscurity. Sardis, the capital of Lydia; Samos, a Greek island; Mesembria, an ancient colony in Thrace; and Cotiæum, the chief city of a province of Phrygia, contend for the distinction of being the birthplace of Æsop. Although the honor thus claimed cannot be definitely assigned to any one of these places, yet there are a few incidents now generally accepted by scholars as established facts, relating to the birth, life, and death of Æsop. He is, by an almost universal consent, allowed to have been born about the year 620 B.C., and to have been by birth a slave. He was owned by two masters in succession, both inhabitants of Samos, Xanthus and Jadmon, the latter of whom gave him his liberty as a reward for his learning and wit. One of the privileges of a freedman in the ancient republics of Greece was the permission to take an active interest in public affairs; and Æsop, like the philosophers Phædo, Menippus, and Epictetus, in later times, raised himself from the indignity of a servile condition to a position of high renown. In his desire alike to instruct and to be instructed, he travelled through many countries, and among others came to Sardis, the capital of the famous king of Lydia, the great patron in that day, of learning and of learned men. He met at the court of Crœsus with Solon, Thales, and other sages, and is related so to have pleased his royal master, by the part he took in the conversations held with these philosophers, that he applied to him an expression which has since passed into a proverb, "μᾶλλον ὁ Φρύξ"—"The Phrygian has spoken better than all."

On the invitation of Crœsus he fixed his residence at Sardis, and was employed by that monarch in various difficult and delicate affairs of state. In his discharge of these commissions he visited the different petty republics of Greece. At one time he is found in Corinth, and at another in Athens, endeavoring, by the narration of some of his wise fables, to reconcile the inhabitants of those cities to the administration of their respective rulers, Pariander and Pisistratus. One of these ambassadorial missions, undertaken at the command of Crœsus, was the occasion of his death. Having been sent to Delphi with a large sum of gold for distribution among the citizens, he was so provoked at their covetousness that he refused to divide the money, and sent it back to his master. The Delphians, enraged at this treatment, accused him of impiety, and, in spite of his sacred character as ambassador, executed him as a public criminal. This cruel death of Æsop was not unavenged. The citizens of Delphi were visited with a series of calamities, until they made a public reparation of their crime; and "The blood of Æsop" became a well-known adage, bearing witness to the truth that deeds of wrong would not pass unpunished. Neither did the great fabulist lack posthumous honors; for a statue was erected to his memory at Athens, the work of Lysippus, one of the most famous of Greek sculptors. Phædrus thus immortalizes the event:—

Æsopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,
Servumque collocarunt æterna in basi:
Patere honoris scirent ut cuncti viam;
Nec generi tribui sed virtuti gloriam.
 

These few facts are all that can be relied on with any degree of certainty, in reference to the birth, life, and death of Æsop. They were first brought to light, after a patient search and diligent perusal of ancient authors, by a Frenchman, M. Claude Gaspard Bachet de Mezeriac, who declined the honor of being tutor to Louis XIII. of France, from his desire to devote himself exclusively to literature. He published his life of Æsop, Anno Domini 1632. The later investigations of a host of English and German scholars have added very little to the facts given by M. Mezeriac. The substantial truth of his statements has been confirmed by later criticism and inquiry.

It remains to state, that prior to this publication of M. Mezeriac, the life of Æsop was from the pen of Maximus Planudes, a monk of Constantinople, who was sent on an embassy to Venice by the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus the elder, and who wrote in the early part of the fourteenth century. His life was prefixed to all the early editions of these fables, and was republished as late as 1727 by Archdeacon Croxall as the introduction to his edition of Æsop. This life by Planudes contains, however, so small an amount of truth, and is so full of absurd pictures of the grotesque deformity of Æsop, of wondrous apocryphal stories, of lying legends, and gross anachronisms, that it is now universally condemned as false, puerile, and unauthentic. It is given up in the present day, by general consent, as unworthy of the slightest credit.








 

ÆSOP'S FABLES

 

The Wolf Turned Shepherd.

A wolf, finding that the sheep were so afraid of him that he could not get near them, disguised himself in the dress of a shepherd, and thus attired approached the flock. As he came near, he found the shepherd fast asleep. As the sheep did not run away, he resolved to imitate the voice of the shepherd. In trying to do so, he only howled, and awoke the shepherd. As he could not run away, he was soon killed.

Those who attempt to act in disguise are apt to overdo it.


The Stag at the Pool.

A stag saw his shadow reflected in the water, and greatly admired the size of his horns, but felt angry with himself for having such weak feet. While he was thus contemplating himself, a Lion appeared at the pool. The Stag betook himself to flight, and kept himself with ease at a safe distance from the Lion, until he entered a wood and became entangled with his horns. The Lion quickly came up with him and caught him. When too late he thus reproached himself: "Woe is me! How have I deceived myself! These feet which would have saved me I despised, and I gloried in these antlers which have proved my destruction."

What is most truly valuable is often underrated.


The Fox and the Mask.

A fox entered the house of an actor, and, rummaging through all his properties, came upon a Mask, an admirable imitation of a human head. He placed his paws on it, and said: "What a beautiful head! yet it is of no value, as it entirely wants brains."

A fair face is of little use without sense.


The Bear and the Fox.

A bear boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying "that 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 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!"

We should not wait till a person is dead, to give him our respect.


The Wolf and the Lamb.

A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea, which should justify to the Lamb himself his right to eat him. He then addressed him: "Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me." "Indeed," bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born." Then said the Wolf: "You feed in my pasture." "No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass." Again said the Wolf: "You drink of my well." "No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me." On which the Wolf seized him, and ate him up, saying: "Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations."

The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny, and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust.


The One-Eyed Doe.

A Doe, blind of an eye, was accustomed to graze as near to the edge of the sea as she possibly could, to secure greater safety. She turned her eye towards the land, that she might perceive the approach of a hunter or hound, and her injured eye towards the sea, from which she entertained no anticipation of danger. Some boatmen, sailing by, saw her, and, taking a successful aim, mortally wounded her. Said she: "O wretched creature that I am! to take such precaution against the land, and, after all, to find this seashore, to which I had come for safety, so much more perilous."

Danger sometimes comes from a source that is least suspected.


The Dog, Cock and Fox.

A Dog and a Cock, traveling together, took shelter at night in a thick wood. The Cock perched himself on a high branch, while the Dog found a bed at the foot of the tree. When morning dawned, the Cock, as usual, crowed very loudly. A Fox, hearing the sound, and wishing to make a breakfast on him, came and stood under the branches, saying how earnestly he desired to make the acquaintance of the owner of so sweet a voice.

"If you will admit me," said he, "I should very much like to spend the day with you."

The Cock said: "Sir, do me the favor to go round and wake up my porter, that he may open the door, and let you in." On the Fox approaching the tree, the Dog sprang out and caught him and quickly tore him in pieces.

Those who try to entrap others are often caught by their own schemes.


The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk.

A Mouse, by an unlucky chance, formed an intimate acquaintance with a Frog. The Frog one day, intent on mischief, bound the foot of the Mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the Frog led his friend toward the pool in which he lived, until he reached the very brink, when suddenly jumping in, he dragged the Mouse in with him. The Frog enjoyed the water amazingly, and swam croaking about as if he had done a meritorious action. The unhappy Mouse was soon suffocated with the water, and his dead body floated about on the surface, tied to the foot of the Frog. A Hawk observed it, and, pouncing upon it, carried it up aloft. The Frog, being still fastened to the leg of the Mouse, was also carried off a prisoner, and was eaten by the Hawk.

Harm hatch, harm catch.


The Dog and the Oyster.

A Dog, used to eating eggs, saw an Oyster, and opening his mouth to its widest extent, swallowed it down with the utmost relish, supposing it to be an egg. Soon afterwards suffering great pain in his stomach, he said: "I deserve all this torment, for my folly in thinking that everything round must be an egg."

Who acts in haste repents at leisure.


The Wolf and the Shepherds.

A Wolf passing by, saw some shepherds in a hut eating for their dinner a haunch of mutton. Approaching them, he said: "What a clamor you would raise, if I were to do as you are doing!"

Men are too apt to condemn in others the very things they practice themselves.


The Hares and the Frogs.

The Hares, oppressed with a sense of their own exceeding timidity, and weary of the perpetual alarm to which they were exposed, with one accord determined to put an end to themselves and their troubles, by jumping from a lofty precipice into a deep lake below. As they scampered off in a very numerous body to carry out their resolve, the Frogs lying on the banks of the lake heard the noise of their feet, and rushed helter-skelter to the deep water for safety. On seeing the rapid disappearance of the Frogs, one of the Hares cried out to his companions: "Stay, my friends, do not do as you intended; for you now see that other creatures who yet live are more timorous than ourselves."

We are encouraged by seeing others that are worse off than ourselves.


The Lion and the Boar.

On a summer day, when the great heat induced a general thirst, a Lion and a Boar came at the same moment to a small well to drink. They fiercely disputed which of them should drink first, and were soon engaged in the agonies of a mortal combat. On their stopping on a sudden to take breath for the fiercer renewal of the strife, they saw some Vultures waiting in the distance to feast on the one which should fall first. They at once made up their quarrel, saying: "It is better for us to make friends, than to become the food of Crows or Vultures, as will certainly happen if we are disabled."

Those who strive are often watched by others who will take advantage of their defeat to benefit themselves.


The Mischievous Dog.

A Dog used to run up quietly to the heels of those he met, and to bite them without notice. His master sometimes suspended a bell about his neck, that he might give notice of his presence wherever he went, and sometimes he fastened a chain about his neck, to which was attached a heavy clog, so that he could not be so quick at biting people's heels.

The Dog grew proud of his bell and clog, and went with them all over the market-place. An old hound said to him: "Why do you make such an exhibition of yourself? That bell and clog that you carry are not, believe me, orders of merit, but, on the contrary, marks of disgrace, a public notice to all men to avoid you as an ill-mannered dog."

Those who achieve notoriety often mistake it for fame.


The Quack Frog.

A Frog once made proclamation to all the beasts that he was a learned physician, and able to heal all diseases. A Fox asked him: "How can you pretend to prescribe for others, and you are unable to heal your own lame gait and wrinkled skin?"

Those who pretend that they can mend others should first mend themselves, and then they will be more readily believed.


The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion.

The Ass and the Fox, having entered into a partnership together, went out into the forest to hunt. They had not proceeded far, when they met a Lion. The Fox approached the Lion and promised to contrive for him the capture of the Ass, if he would pledge his word that his own life should be spared. On his assuring him that he would not injure him, the Fox led the Ass to a deep pit, and contrived that he should fall into it. The Lion, seeing that the Ass was secured, immediately clutched the Fox, and then attacked the Ass at his leisure.

Traitors must expect treachery.


The Wolf and the Sheep.

A Wolf, being sick and maimed, called to a Sheep, who was passing, and asked him to fetch some water from the stream. "For," he said, "if you will bring me drink, I will find means to provide myself with meat." "Yes," said the Sheep, "if I should bring you the draught, you would doubtless make me provide the meat also."

Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through.


The Cock and the Jewel.

A Cock, scratching for food for himself and his hens, found a precious stone; on which he said: "If thy owner had found thee, and not I, he would have taken thee up, and have set thee in thy first estate; but I have found thee for no purpose. I would rather have one barleycorn than all the jewels in the world."


The Two Pots.

A river carried down in its stream two Pots, one made of earthenware, and the other of brass. As they floated along on the surface of the stream, the Earthen Pot said to the Brass Pot: "Pray keep at a distance, and do not come near me, for if you touch me ever so slightly, I shall be broken in pieces; and besides, I by no means wish to come near you."

Equals make the best friends.


The Gnat and the Lion.

A Gnat came and said to a Lion: "I do not the least fear you, nor are you stronger than I am. For in what does your strength consist? You can scratch with your claws, and bite with your teeth—so can a woman in her quarrels. I repeat that I am altogether more powerful than you; and if you doubt it, let us fight and see who will conquer." The Gnat, having sounded his horn, fastened itself upon the Lion, and stung him on the nostrils. The Lion, trying to crush him, tore himself with his claws, until he punished himself severely. The Gnat thus prevailed over the Lion, and buzzing about in a song of triumph, flew away. But shortly afterwards he became entangled in the meshes of a cobweb, and was eaten by a spider. He greatly lamented his fate, saying: "Woe is me, that I, who can wage war successfully with the hugest beasts, should perish myself from this spider."


The Widow and her Little Maidens.

A widow woman, fond of cleaning, had two little maidens to wait on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, being aggrieved by such excessive labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the cock, was unable to tell the time, and so, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.

Unlawful acts to escape trials only increase our troubles.


The Fox and the Lion.

A Fox who had never yet seen a Lion, when he fell in with him by a certain chance for the first time in the forest, was so frightened that he was near dying with fear. On his meeting with him for the second time, he was still much alarmed, but not to the same extent as at first. On seeing him the third time, he so increased in boldness that he went up to him, and commenced a familiar conversation with him.

Acquaintance softens prejudices.


The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

A Country Mouse invited a Town Mouse, an intimate friend, to pay him a visit, and partake of his country fare. As they were on the bare plough-lands, eating their wheat-stalks and roots pulled up from the hedge-row, the Town Mouse said to his friend: "You live here the life of the ants, while in my house is the horn of plenty. I am surrounded with every luxury, and if you will come with me, as I much wish you would, you shall have an ample share of my dainties." The Country Mouse was easily persuaded, and returned to town with his friend. On his arrival, the Town Mouse placed before him bread, barley, beans, dried figs, honey, raisins, and, last of all, brought a dainty piece of cheese from a basket. The Country Mouse, being much delighted at the sight of such good cheer, expressed his satisfaction in warm terms, and lamented his own hard fate. Just as they were beginning to eat, some one opened the door, and they both ran off squeaking, as fast as they could, to a hole so narrow that two could only find room in it by squeezing. They had scarcely again begun their repast when some one else entered to take something out of a cupboard, on which the two Mice, more frightened than before, ran away and hid themselves. At last the Country Mouse, almost famished, thus addressed his friend: "Although you have prepared for me so dainty a feast, I must leave you to enjoy it by yourself. It is surrounded by too many dangers to please me."

Better a little in safety, than an abundance surrounded by danger.


The Monkey and the Dolphin.

A Sailor, bound on a long voyage, took with him a Monkey to amuse him while on shipboard. As he sailed off the coast of Greece, a violent tempest arose, in which the ship was wrecked, and he, his Monkey and all the crew were obliged to swim for their lives. A Dolphin saw the Monkey contending with the waves, and supposing him to be a man (whom he is always said to befriend), came and placed himself under him, to convey him on his back in safety to the shore. When the Dolphin arrived with his burden in sight of land not far from Athens, he demanded of the Monkey if he were an Athenian, who answered that he was, and that he was descended from one of the noblest families in that city.

The Dolphin then inquired if he knew the Piræus (the famous harbor of Athens). The Monkey, supposing that a man was meant, and being obliged to support his previous lie, answered that he knew him very well, and that he was an intimate friend, who would, no doubt, be very glad to see him. The Dolphin, indignant at these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey under the water, and drowned him.

He who once begins to tell falsehoods is obliged to tell others to make them appear true, and, sooner or later, they will get him into trouble.


The Game-cocks and the Partridge.

A Man had two Game-cocks in his poultry yard. One day, by chance, he fell in with a tame Partridge for sale. He purchased it, and brought it home that it might be reared with his Game-cocks. On its being put into the poultry-yard, they struck at it, and followed it about, so that the Partridge was grievously troubled in mind, and supposed that he was thus badly treated because he was a stranger. Not long afterwards he saw the Cocks fighting together, and not separating before one had well beaten the other. He then said to himself: "I shall no longer distress myself at being struck at by these Game-cocks, when I see that they cannot even refrain from quarreling with each other."

Strangers should avoid those who quarrel among themselves.


The Boy and the Nettle.

A Boy was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told his mother, saying: "Although it pains me so much, I did but touch it ever so gently." "That was just it," said his mother, "which caused it to sting you. 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."

Whatever you do, do with all your might.


The Trumpeter taken Prisoner.

A Trumpeter, bravely leading on the soldiers, was captured by the enemy. He cried out to his captors: "Pray spare me, and do not take my life without cause or without injury. I have not slain a single man of your troop. I have no arms, and carry nothing but this one brass trumpet." "That is the very reason for which you should be put to death," they said, "for while you do not fight yourself, your loud trumpet stirs up all the other soldiers to battle."

He who incites strife is as guilty as they who strive.


The Fatal Marriage.

The Lion, touched with gratitude by the noble procedure of a Mouse, and resolving not to be outdone in generosity by any wild beast whatsoever, desired his little deliverer to name his own terms, for that he might depend upon his complying with any proposal he should make. The Mouse, fired with ambition at this gracious offer, did not so much consider what was proper for him to ask, as what was in the powers of his prince to grant; and so demanded his princely daughter, the young lioness, in marriage. The Lion consented; but, when he would have given the royal virgin into his possession, she, like a giddy thing as she was, not minding how she walked, by chance set her paw upon her spouse, who was coming to meet her, and crushed him to pieces.

Beware of unequal matches. Alliances prompted by ambition often prove fatal.


The Ass and the Charger.

An Ass congratulated a Horse on being so ungrudgingly and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat, nor even that without hard work. But when war broke out, the heavy armed soldier mounted the Horse, and rushed into the very midst of the enemy, and the Horse, being wounded, fell dead on the battle-field. Then the Ass, seeing all these things, changed his mind, and commiserated the Horse, saying: "How much more fortunate am I than a charger. I can remain at home in safety while he is exposed to all the perils of war."

Be not hasty to envy the condition of others.


The Vain Jackdaw.

Jupiter determined, it is said, to create a sovereign over the birds, and made proclamation that, on a certain day, they should all present themselves before him, when he would himself choose the most beautiful among them to be king. The Jackdaw, knowing his own ugliness, searched through the woods and fields, and collected the feathers which had fallen from the wings of his companions, and stuck them in all parts of his body. When the appointed day arrived, and the birds had assembled before Jupiter, the Jackdaw also made his appearance in his many-feathered finery. On Jupiter proposing to make him king, on account of the beauty of his plumage, the birds indignantly protested, and each plucking from him his own feathers, the Jackdaw was again nothing but a Jackdaw.

Hope not to succeed in borrowed plumes.


The Milkmaid and her Pot of Milk.

A Maid was carrying her pail of milk to the farm-house, when she fell a-musing. "The money for which this milk will be sold will buy at least three hundred eggs. The eggs, allowing for all mishaps, will produce two hundred and fifty chickens. The chickens will become ready for market when poultry will fetch the highest price; so that by the end of the year I shall have money enough to buy a new gown. In this dress I will go to the Christmas junketings, when all the young fellows will propose to me, but I will toss my head, and refuse them every one." At this moment she tossed her head in unison with her thoughts, when down fell the Milk-pot to the ground, and broke into a hundred pieces, and all her fine schemes perished in a moment.

Count not your chickens before they are hatched.


The Playful Ass.

An Ass climbed up to the roof of a building, and, frisking about there, broke in the tiling. The owner went up after him, and quickly drove him down, beating him severely with a thick wooden cudgel. The Ass said: "Why, I saw the Monkey do this very thing yesterday, and you all laughed heartily, as if it afforded you very great amusement."

Those who do not know their right place must be taught it.


The Man and the Satyr.

A Man and a Satyr once formed a bond of alliance. One very cold wintry day, as they talked together, the Man put his fingers to his mouth and blew on them. On the Satyr inquiring the reason, he told him that he did it to warm his hands. Later on in the day they sat down to eat, the food prepared being quite scalding. The Man raised one of his dishes towards his mouth and blew in it. On the Satyr again inquiring the reason, he said that he did it to cool the meat. "I can no longer consider you as a friend," said the Satyr; "a fellow who with the same breath blows hot and cold I could never trust."

A man who talks for both sides is not to be trusted by either.

 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
  BACK NEXT