English > ESL Library Index


Online Literature Library
Great literature free and accessible for everyone
.

AESOP'S FABLES




The Mule

A MULE, frolicsome from lack of work and from too much corn,
galloped about in a very extravagant manner, and said to himself:
"My father surely was a high-mettled racer, and I am his own
child in speed and spirit." On the next day, being driven a long
journey, and feeling very wearied, he exclaimed in a disconsolate
tone: "I must have made a mistake; my father, after all, could
have been only an ass."

The Hart and the Vine

A HART, hard pressed in the chase, hid himself beneath the large
leaves of a Vine. The huntsmen, in their haste, overshot the
place of his concealment. Supposing all danger to have passed,
the Hart began to nibble the tendrils of the Vine. One of the
huntsmen, attracted by the rustling of the leaves, looked back,
and seeing the Hart, shot an arrow from his bow and struck it.
The Hart, at the point of death, groaned: "I am rightly served,
for I should not have maltreated the Vine that saved me."

The Serpent and the Eagle

A SERPENT and an Eagle were struggling with each other in deadly
conflict. The Serpent had the advantage, and was about to
strangle the bird. A countryman saw them, and running up, loosed
the coil of the Serpent and let the Eagle go free. The Serpent,
irritated at the escape of his prey, injected his poison into the
drinking horn of the countryman. The rustic, ignorant of his
danger, was about to drink, when the Eagle struck his hand with
his wing, and, seizing the drinking horn in his talons, carried
it aloft.

The Crow and the Pitcher

A CROW perishing with thirst saw a pitcher, and hoping to find
water, flew to it with delight. When he reached it, he
discovered to his grief that it contained so little water that he
could not possibly get at it. He tried everything he could think
of to reach the water, but all his efforts were in vain. At last
he collected as many stones as he could carry and dropped them
one by one with his beak into the pitcher, until he brought the
water within his reach and thus saved his life.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

The Two Frogs

TWO FROGS were neighbors. One inhabited a deep pond, far removed
from public view; the other lived in a gully containing little
water, and traversed by a country road. The Frog that lived in
the pond warned his friend to change his residence and entreated
him to come and live with him, saying that he would enjoy greater
safety from danger and more abundant food. The other refused,
saying that he felt it so very hard to leave a place to which he
had become accustomed. A few days afterwards a heavy wagon
passed through the gully and crushed him to death under its
wheels.

A willful man will have his way to his own hurt.

The Wolf and the Fox

AT ONE TIME a very large and strong Wolf was born among the
wolves, who exceeded all his fellow-wolves in strength, size, and
swiftness, so that they unanimously decided to call him "Lion."
The Wolf, with a lack of sense proportioned to his enormous size,
thought that they gave him this name in earnest, and, leaving his
own race, consorted exclusively with the lions. An old sly Fox,
seeing this, said, "May I never make myself so ridiculous as you
do in your pride and self-conceit; for even though you have the
size of a lion among wolves, in a herd of lions you are
definitely a wolf."

The Walnut-Tree

A WALNUT TREE standing by the roadside bore an abundant crop of
fruit. For the sake of the nuts, the passers-by broke its
branches with stones and sticks. The Walnut-Tree piteously
exclaimed, "O wretched me! that those whom I cheer with my fruit
should repay me with these painful requitals!"

The Gnat and the Lion

A GNAT came and said to a Lion, "I do not in 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
an 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
himself upon the Lion and stung him on the nostrils and the parts
of the face devoid of hair. While trying to crush him, the Lion
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 most inconsiderable of insects!"

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 asked the Monkey if he were an
Athenian. The latter replied that he was, and that he was
descended from one of the most noble families in that city. The
Dolphin then inquired if he knew the Piraeus (the famous harbor
of Athens). Supposing that a man was meant, the Monkey answered
that he knew him very well and that he was an intimate friend.
The Dolphin, indignant at these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey
under the water and drowned him.

The Jackdaw and the Doves

A JACKDAW, seeing some Doves in a cote abundantly provided with
food, painted himself white and joined them in order to share
their plentiful maintenance. The Doves, as long as he was
silent, supposed him to be one of themselves and admitted him to
their cote. But when one day he forgot himself and began to
chatter, they discovered his true character and drove him forth,
pecking him with their beaks. Failing to obtain food among the
Doves, he returned to the Jackdaws. They too, not recognizing
him on account of his color. expelled him from living with them.
So desiring two ends, he obtained neither.

The Horse and the Stag

AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself. Then a
Stag intruded into his domain and shared his pasture. The Horse,
desiring to revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he
were willing to help him in punishing the Stag. The man replied
that if the Horse would receive a bit in his mouth and agree to
carry him, he would contrive effective weapons against the Stag.
The Horse consented and allowed the man to mount him. From that
hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the Stag, he
had enslaved himself to the service of man.

The Kid and the Wolf

A KID, returning without protection from the pasture, was pursued
by a Wolf. Seeing he could not escape, he turned round, and
said: "I know, friend Wolf, that I must be your prey, but before
I die I would ask of you one favor you will play me a tune to
which I may dance." The Wolf complied, and while he was piping
and the Kid was dancing, some hounds hearing the sound ran up and
began chasing the Wolf. Turning to the Kid, he said, "It is just
what I deserve; for I, who am only a butcher, should not have
turned piper to please you."

The Prophet

A WIZARD, sitting in the marketplace, was telling the fortunes of
the passers-by when a person ran up in great haste, and
announced to him that the doors of his house had been broken open
and that all his goods were being stolen. He sighed heavily and
hastened away as fast as he could run. A neighbor saw him
running and said, "Oh! you fellow there! you say you can foretell
the fortunes of others; how is it you did not foresee your own?'

The Fox and the Monkey

A FOX and a Monkey were traveling together on the same road. As
they journeyed, they passed through a cemetery full of monuments.
"All these monuments which you see," said the Monkey, "are
erected in honor of my ancestors, who were in their day freedmen
and citizens of great renown." The Fox replied, "You have chosen
a most appropriate subject for your falsehoods, as I am sure none
of your ancestors will be able to contradict you."

A false tale often betrays itself.

The Thief and the Housedog

A THIEF came in the night to break into a house. He brought with
him several slices of meat in order to pacify the Housedog, so
that he would not alarm his master by barking. As the Thief
threw him the pieces of meat, the Dog said, "If you think to stop
my mouth, you will be greatly mistaken. This sudden kindness at
your hands will only make me more watchful, lest under these
unexpected favors to myself, you have some private ends to
accomplish for your own benefit, and for my master's injury."

The Spendthrift and the Swallow

A YOUNG MAN, a great spendthrift, had run through all his
patrimony and had but one good cloak left. One day he happened
to see a Swallow, which had appeared before its season, skimming
along a pool and twittering gaily. He supposed that summer had
come, and went and sold his cloak. Not many days later, winter
set in again with renewed frost and cold. When he found the
unfortunate Swallow lifeless on the ground, he said, "Unhappy
bird! what have you done? By thus appearing before the springtime
you have not only killed yourself, but you have wrought my
destruction also."

The Fox and the Lion

A FOX saw a Lion confined in a cage, and standing near him,
bitterly reviled him. The Lion said to the Fox, "It is not thou
who revilest me; but this mischance which has befallen me."

The Owl and the Birds

AN OWL, in her wisdom, counseled the Birds that when the acorn
first began to sprout, to pull it all up out of the ground and
not allow it to grow. She said acorns would produce mistletoe,
from which an irremediable poison, the bird-
lime, would be extracted and by which they would be captured.
The Owl next advised them to pluck up the seed of the flax, which
men had sown, as it was a plant which boded no good to them.
And, lastly, the Owl, seeing an archer approach, predicted that
this man, being on foot, would contrive darts armed with feathers
which would fly faster than the wings of the Birds themselves.
The Birds gave no credence to these warning words, but considered
the Owl to be beside herself and said that she was mad. But
afterwards, finding her words were true, they wondered at her
knowledge and deemed her to be the wisest of birds. Hence it is
that when she appears they look to her as knowing all things,
while she no longer gives them advice, but in solitude laments
their past folly.

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 inquiry. 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 trumpet stirs all the others to battle."

The Ass in the Lion's Skin

AN ASS, having put on the Lion's skin, roamed about in the forest
and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met
in his wanderings. At last coming upon a Fox, he tried to
frighten him also, but the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his
voice than he exclaimed, "I might possibly have been frightened
myself, if I had not heard your bray."

The Sparrow and the Hare

A HARE pounced upon by an eagle sobbed very much and uttered
cries like a child. A Sparrow upbraided her and said, "Where now
is thy remarkable swiftness of foot? Why were your feet so slow?"
While the Sparrow was thus speaking, a hawk suddenly seized him
and killed him. The Hare was comforted in her death, and
expiring said, "Ah! you who so lately, when you supposed yourself
safe, exulted over my calamity, have now reason to deplore a
similar misfortune."

The Flea and the Ox

A FLEA thus questioned an Ox: "What ails you, that being so huge
and strong, you submit to the wrongs you receive from men and
slave for them day by day, while I, being so small a creature,
mercilessly feed on their flesh and drink their blood without
stint?' The Ox replied: "I do not wish to be ungrateful, for I am
loved and well cared for by men, and they often pat my head and
shoulders." "Woe's me!" said the flea; "this very patting which
you like, whenever it happens to me, brings with it my inevitable
destruction."

The Goods and the Ills

ALL the Goods were once driven out by the Ills from that common
share which they each had in the affairs of mankind; for the Ills
by reason of their numbers had prevailed to possess the earth.
The Goods wafted themselves to heaven and asked for a righteous
vengeance on their persecutors. They entreated Jupiter that they
might no longer be associated with the Ills, as they had nothing
in common and could not live together, but were engaged in
unceasing warfare; and that an indissoluble law migght to break into a house. He brought with
him several slices of meat in order to pacify the Housedog, so
that he would not alarm his master by barking. As the Thief
threw him the pieces of meat, the Dog said, "If you think to stop
my mouth, you will be greatly mistaken. This sudden kindness at
your hands will only make me more watchful, lest under these
unexpected favors to myself, you have some private ends to
accomplish for your own benefit, and for my master's injury."

The Man, the Horse, the Ox, and the Dog

A HORSE, Ox, and Dog, driven to great straits by the cold, sought
shelter and protection from Man. He received them kindly,
lighted a fire, and warmed them. He let the Horse make free with
his oats, gave the Ox an abundance of hay, and fed the Dog with
meat from his own table. Grateful for these favors, the animals
determined to repay him to the best of their ability. For this
purpose, they divided the term of his life between them, and each
endowed one portion of it with the qualities which chiefly
characterized himself. The Horse chose his earliest years and
gave them his own attributes: hence every man is in his youth
impetuous, headstrong, and obstinate in maintaining his own
opinion. The Ox took under his patronage the next term of life,
and therefore man in his middle age is fond of work, devoted to
labor, and resolute to amass wealth and to husband his resources.
The end of life was reserved for the Dog, wherefore the old man
is often snappish, irritable, hard to please, and selfish,
tolerant only of his own household, but averse to strangers and
to all who do not administer to his comfort or to his
necessities.

The Apes and the Two Travelers

TWO MEN, one who always spoke the truth and the other who told
nothing but lies, were traveling together and by chance came to
the land of Apes. One of the Apes, who had raised himself to be
king, commanded them to be seized and brought before him, that he
might know what was said of him among men. He ordered at the
same time that all the Apes be arranged in a long row on his
right hand and on his left, and that a throne be placed for him,
as was the custom among men. After these preparations he
signified that the two men should be brought before him, and
greeted them with this salutation: "What sort of a king do I seem
to you to be, O strangers?' The Lying Traveler replied, "You seem
to me a most mighty king." "And what is your estimate of those
you see around me?' "These," he made answer, "are worthy
companions of yourself, fit at least to be ambassadors and
leaders of armies." The Ape and all his court, gratified with the
lie, commanded that a handsome present be given to the flatterer.
On this the truthful Traveler thought to himself, "If so great a
reward be given for a lie, with what gift may not I be rewarded,
if, according to my custom, I tell the truth?' The Ape quickly
turned to him. "And pray how do I and these my friends around me
seem to you?' "Thou art," he said, "a most excellent Ape, and all
these thy companions after thy example are excellent Apes too."
The King of the Apes, enraged at hearing these truths, gave him
over to the teeth and claws of his companions.

The Wolf and the Shepherd

A WOLF followed a flock of sheep for a long time and did not
attempt to injure one of them. The Shepherd at first stood on
his guard against him, as against an enemy, and kept a strict
watch over his movements. But when the Wolf, day after day, kept
in the company of the sheep and did not make the slightest effort
to seize them, the Shepherd began to look upon him as a guardian
of his flock rather than as a plotter of evil against it; and
when occasion called him one day into the city, he left the sheep
entirely in his charge. The Wolf, now that he had the
opportunity, fell upon the sheep, and destroyed the greater part
of the flock. When the Shepherd returned to find his flock
destroyed, he exclaimed: "I have been rightly served; why did I
trust my sheep to a Wolf?'

The Hares and the Lions

THE HARES harangued the assembly, and argued that all should be
equal. The Lions made this reply: "Your words, O Hares! are
good; but they lack both claws and teeth such as we have."

The Lark and Her Young Ones

A LARK had made her nest in the early spring on the young green
wheat. The brood had almost grown to their full strength and
attained the use of their wings and the full plumage of their
feathers, when the owner of the field, looking over his ripe
crop, said, "The time has come when I must ask all my neighbors
to help me with my harvest." One of the young Larks heard his
speech and related it to his mother, inquiring of her to what
place they should move for safety. "There is no occasion to move
yet, my son," she replied; "the man who only sends to his friends
to help him with his harvest is not really in earnest." The owner
of the field came again a few days later and saw the wheat
shedding the grain from excess of ripeness. He said, "I will
come myself tomorrow with my laborers, and with as many reapers
as I can hire, and will get in the harvest." The Lark on hearing
these words said to her brood, "It is time now to be off, my
little ones, for the man is in earnest this time; he no longer
trusts his friends, but will reap the field himself."

Self-help is the best help.

The Fox and the Lion

WHEN A FOX who had never yet seen a Lion, fell in with him by
chance for the first time in the forest, he was so frightened
that he nearly died with fear. On meeting 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 Weasel and the Mice

A WEASEL, inactive from age and infirmities, was not able to
catch mice as he once did. He therefore rolled himself in flour
and lay down in a dark corner. A Mouse, supposing him to be
food, leaped upon him, and was instantly caught and squeezed to
death. Another perished in a similar manner, and then a third,
and still others after them. A very old Mouse, who had escaped
many a trap and snare, observed from a safe distance the trick of
his crafty foe and said, "Ah! you that lie there, may you prosper
just in the same proportion as you are what you pretend to be!"

The Boy Bathing

A BOY bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He
called out to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding
out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded
the boy for his imprudence. "Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray
help me now and scold me afterwards."

Counsel without help is useless.

The Ass and the Wolf

AN ASS feeding in a meadow saw a Wolf approaching to seize him,
and immediately pretended to be lame. The Wolf, coming up,
inquired the cause of his lameness. The Ass replied that passing
through a hedge he had trod with his foot upon a sharp thorn. He
requested that the Wolf pull it out, lest when he ate him it
should injure his throat. The Wolf consented and lifted up the
foot, and was giving his whole mind to the discovery of the
thorn, when the Ass, with his heels, kicked his teeth into his
mouth and galloped away. The Wolf, being thus fearfully mauled,
said, "I am rightly served, for why did I attempt the art of
healing, when my father only taught me the trade of a butcher?'

The Seller of Images

A CERTAIN MAN made a wooden image of Mercury and offered it for
sale. When no one appeared willing to buy it, in order to
attract purchasers, he cried out that he had the statue to sell
of a benefactor who bestowed wealth and helped to heap up riches.
One of the bystanders said to him, "My good fellow, why do you
sell him, being such a one as you describe, when you may yourself
enjoy the good things he has to give?' "Why," he replied, "I am
in need of immediate help, and he is wont to give his good gifts
very slowly."

The Fox and the Grapes

A FAMISHED FOX saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging
from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at
them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them.
At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying:
"The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."

The Man and His Wife

A MAN had a Wife who made herself hated by all the members of his
household. Wishing to find out if she had the same effect on the
persons in her father's house, he made some excuse to send her
home on a visit to her father. After a short time she returned,
and when he inquired how she had got on and how the servants had
treated her, she replied, "The herdsmen and shepherds cast on me
looks of aversion." He said, "O Wife, if you were disliked by
those who go out early in the morning with their flocks and
return late in the evening, what must have been felt towards you
by those with whom you passed the whole day!"

Straws show how the wind blows.

The Peacock and Juno

THE PEACOCK made complaint to Juno that, while the nightingale
pleased every ear with his song, he himself no sooner opened his
mouth than he became a laughingstock to all who heard him. The
Goddess, to console him, said, "But you far excel in beauty and
in size. The splendor of the emerald shines in your neck and you
unfold a tail gorgeous with painted plumage." "But for what
purpose have I," said the bird, "this dumb beauty so long as I am
surpassed in song?' "The lot of each," replied Juno, "has been
assigned by the will of the Fates--to thee, beauty; to the eagle,
strength; to the nightingale, song; to the raven, favorable,
and to the crow, unfavorable auguries. These are all contented
with the endowments allotted to them."

The Hawk and the Nightingale

A NIGHTINGALE, sitting aloft upon an oak and singing according to
his wont, was seen by a Hawk who, being in need of food, swooped
down and seized him. The Nightingale, about to lose his life,
earnestly begged the Hawk to let him go, saying that he was not
big enough to satisfy the hunger of a Hawk who, if he wanted
food, ought to pursue the larger birds. The Hawk, interrupting
him, said: "I should indeed have lost my senses if I should let
go food ready in my hand, for the sake of pursuing birds which
are not yet even within sight."

The Dog, the Cock, and the Fox

A DOG and a Cock being great friends, agreed to travel together.
At nightfall they took shelter in a thick wood. The Cock flying
up, perched himself on the branches of a tree, while the Dog
found a bed beneath in the hollow trunk. When the morning
dawned, the Cock, as usual, crowed very loudly several times. A
Fox heard 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 magnificent a voice.
The Cock, suspecting his civilities, said: "Sir, I wish you would
do me the favor of going around to the hollow trunk below me, and
waking my porter, so that he may open the door and let you in."
When the Fox approached the tree, the Dog sprang out and caught
him, and tore him to pieces.

The Wolf and the Goat

A WOLF saw a Goat feeding at the summit of a steep precipice,
where he had no chance of reaching her. He called to her and
earnestly begged her to come lower down, lest she fall by some
mishap; and he added that the meadows lay where he was standing,
and that the herbage was most tender. She replied, "No, my
friend, it is not for the pasture that you invite me, but for
yourself, who are in want of food."

The Lion and the Bull

A LION, greatly desiring to capture a Bull, and yet afraid to
attack him on account of his great size, resorted to a trick to
ensure his destruction. He approached the Bull and said, "I have
slain a fine sheep, my friend; and if you will come home and
partake of him with me, I shall be delighted to have your
company." The Lion said this in the hope that, as the Bull was in
the act of reclining to eat, he might attack him to advantage,
and make his meal on him. The Bull, on approaching the Lion's
den, saw the huge spits and giant caldrons, and no sign whatever
of the sheep, and, without saying a word, quietly took his
departure. The Lion inquired why he went off so abruptly without
a word of salutation to his host, who had not given him any cause
for offense. "I have reasons enough," said the Bull. "I see no
indication whatever of your having slaughtered a sheep, while I
do see very plainly every preparation for your dining on a bull."

The Goat and the Ass

A MAN once kept a Goat and an Ass. The Goat, envying the Ass on
account of his greater abundance of food, said, "How shamefully
you are treated: at one time grinding in the mill, and at another
carrying heavy burdens"; and he further advised him to pretend to
be epileptic and fall into a ditch and so obtain rest. The Ass
listened to his words, and falling into a ditch, was very much
bruised. His master, sending for a leech, asked his advice. He
bade him pour upon the wounds the lungs of a Goat. They at once
killed the Goat, and so healed the Ass.

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 plowlands, eating there wheat-stocks and roots pulled up
from the hedgerow, 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 by every luxury, and if you will come
with me, as I 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, someone
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 begun their repast again when
someone else entered to take something out of a cupboard,
whereupon the two Mice, more frightened than before, ran away and
hid themselves. At last the Country Mouse, almost famished, said
to 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. I prefer my bare
plowlands and roots from the hedgerow, where I can live in
safety, and without fear."

The Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape

A WOLF accused a Fox of theft, but the Fox entirely denied the
charge. An Ape undertook to adjudge the matter between them.
When each had fully stated his case the Ape announced this
sentence: "I do not think you, Wolf, ever lost what you claim;
and I do believe you, Fox, to have stolen what you so stoutly
deny."

The dishonest, if they act honestly, get no credit.

The Fly and the Draught-Mule

A FLY sat on the axle-tree of a chariot, and addressing the
Draught-Mule said, "How slow you are! Why do you not go faster?
See if I do not prick your neck with my sting." The Draught-Mule
replied, "I do not heed your threats; I only care for him who
sits above you, and who quickens my pace with his whip, or holds
me back with the reins. Away, therefore, with your insolence,
for I know well when to go fast, and when to go slow."

The Fishermen

SOME FISHERMEN were out trawling their nets. Perceiving them to
be very heavy, they danced about for joy and supposed that they
had taken a large catch. When they had dragged the nets to the
shore they found but few fish: the nets were full of sand and
stones, and the men were beyond measure cast downso much at the
disappointment which had befallen them, but because they had
formed such very different expectations. One of their company,
an old man, said, "Let us cease lamenting, my mates, for, as it
seems to me, sorrow is always the twin sister of joy; and it was
only to be looked for that we, who just now were over-rejoiced,
should next have something to make us sad."

The Lion and the Three Bulls

THREE BULLS for a long time pastured together. A Lion lay in
ambush in the hope of making them his prey, but was afraid to
attack them while they kept together. Having at last by guileful
speeches succeeded in separating them, he attacked them without
fear as they fed alone, and feasted on them one by one at his own
leisure.

Union is strength.

The Fowler and the Viper

A FOWLER, taking his bird-lime and his twigs, went out to catch
birds. Seeing a thrush sitting upon a tree, he wished to take
it, and fitting his twigs to a proper length, watched intently,
having his whole thoughts directed towards the sky. While thus
looking upwards, he unknowingly trod upon a Viper asleep just
before his feet. The Viper, turning about, stung him, and
falling into a swoon, the man said to himself, "Woe is me! that
while I purposed to hunt another, I am myself fallen unawares
into the snares of death."

The Horse and the Ass

A HORSE, proud of his fine trappings, met an Ass on the highway.
The Ass, being heavily laden, moved slowly out of the way.
"Hardly," said the Horse, "can I resist kicking you with my
heels." The Ass held his peace, and made only a silent appeal to
the justice of the gods. Not long afterwards the Horse, having
become broken-winded, was sent by his owner to the farm. The
Ass, seeing him drawing a dungcart, thus derided him: "Where, O
boaster, are now all thy gay trappings, thou who are thyself
reduced to the condition you so lately treated with contempt?'

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 lacks brains."

The Geese and the Cranes

THE GEESE and the Cranes were feeding in the same meadow, when a
birdcatcher came to ensnare them in his nets. The Cranes, being
light of wing, fled away at his approach; while the Geese, being
slower of flight and heavier in their bodies, were captured.

The Blind Man and the Whelp

A BLIND MAN was accustomed to distinguishing different animals by
touching them with his hands. The whelp of a Wolf was brought
him, with a request that he would feel it, and say what it was.
He felt it, and being in doubt, said: "I do not quite know
whether it is the cub of a Fox, or the whelp of a Wolf, but this
I know full well. It would not be safe to admit him to the
sheepfold."

Evil tendencies are shown in early life.

The Dogs and the Fox

SOME DOGS, finding the skin of a lion, began to tear it in pieces
with their teeth. A Fox, seeing them, said, "If this lion were
alive, you would soon find out that his claws were stronger than
your teeth."

It is easy to kick a man that is down.

The Cobbler Turned Doctor

A COBBLER unable to make a living by his trade and made desperate
by poverty, began to practice medicine in a town in which he was
not known. He sold a drug, pretending that it was an antidote to
all poisons, and obtained a great name for himself by long-winded
puffs and advertisements. When the Cobbler happened to fall sick
himself of a serious illness, the Governor of the town determined
to test his skill. For this purpose he called for a cup, and
while filling it with water, pretended to mix poison with the
Cobbler's antidote, commanding him to drink it on the promise of
a reward. The Cobbler, under the fear of death, confessed that
he had no knowledge of medicine, and was only made famous by the
stupid clamors of the crowd. The Governor then called a public
assembly and addressed the citizens: "Of what folly have you been
guilty? You have not hesitated to entrust your heads to a man,
whom no one could employ to make even the shoes for their feet."


The Wolf and the Horse

A WOLF coming out of a field of oats met a Horse and thus
addressed him: "I would advise you to go into that field. It is
full of fine oats, which I have left untouched for you, as you
are a friend whom I would love to hear enjoying good eating." The
Horse replied, "If oats had been the food of wolves, you would
never have indulged your ears at the cost of your belly."

Men of evil reputation, when they perform a good deed, fail to
get credit for it.

The Brother and the Sister

A FATHER had one son and one daughter, the former remarkable for
his good looks, the latter for her extraordinary ugliness. While
they were playing one day as children, they happened by chance to
look together into a mirror that was placed on their mother's
chair. The boy congratulated himself on his good looks; the girl
grew angry, and could not bear the self-praises of her Brother,
interpreting all he said (and how could she do otherwise?) into
reflection on herself. She ran off to her father. to be avenged
on her Brother, and spitefully accused him of having, as a boy,
made use of that which belonged only to girls. The father
embraced them both, and bestowing his kisses and affection
impartially on each, said, "I wish you both would look into the
mirror every day: you, my son, that you may not spoil your beauty
by evil conduct; and you, my daughter, that you may make up for
your lack of beauty by your virtues."

The Wasps, the Partridges, and the Farmer

THE WASPS and the Partridges, overcome with thirst, came to a
Farmer and besought him to give them some water to drink. They
promised amply to repay him the favor which they asked. The
Partridges declared that they would dig around his vines and make
them produce finer grapes. The Wasps said that they would keep
guard and drive off thieves with their stings. But the Farmer
interrupted them, saying: "I have already two oxen, who, without
making any promises, do all these things. It is surely better
for me to give the water to them than to you."

The Crow and Mercury

A CROW caught in a snare prayed to Apollo to release him, making
a vow to offer some frankincense at his shrine. But when rescued
from his danger, he forgot his promise. Shortly afterwards,
again caught in a snare, he passed by Apollo and made the same
promise to offer frankincense to Mercury. Mercury soon appeared
and said to him, "O thou most base fellow? how can I believe
thee, who hast disowned and wronged thy former patron?'

The North Wind and the Sun

THE NORTH WIND and the Sun disputed as to which was the most
powerful, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who
could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes. The North Wind
first tried his power and blew with all his might, but the keener
his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him,
until at last, resigning all hope of victory, the Wind called
upon the Sun to see what he could do. The Sun suddenly shone out
with all his warmth. The Traveler no sooner felt his genial rays
than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly
overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in
his path.

Persuasion is better than Force.

The Two Men Who Were Enemies

TWO MEN, deadly enemies to each other, were sailing in the same
vessel. Determined to keep as far apart as possible, the one
seated himself in the stem, and the other in the prow of the
ship. A violent storm arose, and with the vessel in great danger
of sinking, the one in the stern inquired of the pilot which of
the two ends of the ship would go down first. On his replying
that he supposed it would be the prow, the Man said, "Death would
not be grievous to me, if I could only see my Enemy die before
me."

The Gamecocks and the Partridge

A MAN had two Gamecocks in his poultry-yard. One day by chance
he found a tame Partridge for sale. He purchased it and brought
it home to be reared with his Gamecocks. When the Partridge was
put into the poultry-yard, they struck at it and followed it
about, so that the Partridge became grievously troubled and
supposed that he was thus evilly 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 Gamecocks, when I see that they cannot even
refrain from quarreling with each other."

The Quack Frog

A FROG once upon a time came forth from his home in the marsh and
proclaimed to all the beasts that he was a learned physician,
skilled in the use of drugs and able to heal all diseases. A Fox
asked him, "How can you pretend to prescribe for others, when you
are unable to heal your own lame gait and wrinkled skin?'

The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox

A LION, growing old, lay sick in his cave. All the beasts came
to visit their king, except the Fox. The Wolf therefore,
thinking that he had a capital opportunity, accused the Fox to
the Lion of not paying any respect to him who had the rule over
them all and of not coming to visit him. At that very moment the
Fox came in and heard these last words of the Wolf. The Lion
roaring out in a rage against him, the Fox sought an opportunity
to defend himself and said, "And who of all those who have come
to you have benefited you so much as I, who have traveled from
place to place in every direction, and have sought and learnt
from the physicians the means of healing you?' The Lion commanded
him immediately to tell him the cure, when he replied, "You must
flay a wolf alive and wrap his skin yet warm around you." The
Wolf was at once taken and flayed; whereon the Fox, turning to
him, said with a smile, "You should have moved your master not to
ill, but to good, will."

The Dog's House

IN THE WINTERTIME, a Dog curled up in as small a space as
possible on account of the cold, determined to make himself a
house. However when the summer returned again, he lay asleep
stretched at his full length and appeared to himself to be of a
great size. Now he considered that it would be neither an easy
nor a necessary work to make himself such a house as would
accommodate him.

The Wolf and the Lion

ROAMING BY the mountainside at sundown, a Wolf saw his own shadow
become greatly extended and magnified, and he said to himself,
"Why should I, being of such an immense size and extending nearly
an acre in length, be afraid of the Lion? Ought I not to be
acknowledged as King of all the collected beasts?' While he was
indulging in these proud thoughts, a Lion fell upon him and
killed him. He exclaimed with a too late repentance, "Wretched
me! this overestimation of myself is the cause of my
destruction."

The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat

THE BIRDS waged war with the Beasts, and each were by turns the
conquerors. A Bat, fearing the uncertain issues of the fight,
always fought on the side which he felt was the strongest. When
peace was proclaimed, his deceitful conduct was apparent to both
combatants. Therefore being condemned by each for his treachery,
he was driven forth from the light of day, and henceforth
concealed himself in dark hiding-places, flying always alone and
at night.


Many Thanks for Using the ESL Library from 1-language.com.


Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved.