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Aesop's Fables

Selected and edited by M. Divjak


Contents

    The wild Boar whetting his tusks
    A Dog and the shadow
    The Fox and the Grapes
    The Fox without a tail
    The Fox and the Crow
    The Lion and the wild Ass
    The Lioness and the Vixen
    The Lion and the Man
    The Lion in love
    The Wolf and the Lamb
    The Wolf and the Lion
    The Astronomer in well
    The Trumpeter taken prisoner
    The three tradesmen
    The boasting Traveller
    The Shepherđs Boy and the Wolf
    Father and Sons


The wild Boar whetting his tusks

    A wild Boar was engaged in whetting his tusks upon a trunk of a
    tree in the forest when a Fox came by and, seeing what he was
    at, said to him, "Why are you doing that, pray? The huntsmen
    are not out to-day, and there are no other dangers at hand that
    I can see." "True, my friend," replied the Boar, "but the
    instant my life is in danger I shall need to use my tusks.
    There'll be no time to sharpen them then."


A Dog and the shadow

    A Dog was crossing a plank bridge over a stream with a piece of
    meat in his mouth, when he happened to see his own reflection
    in the watter. He thought it was another dog with a piece of
    meat twice as big; so he let go his own, and flew at the other
    dog to get the larger piece. But, of course, all that happened
    was that he got neither: for one was only a shadow, and the
    other was carried away by the current.


The Fox and the Grapes

    A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a
    vine that was trained along a high trellis, and did his best to
    reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air. But it
    was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up
    trying, and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern,
    remarking, "I thought those Grapes were ripe, but I see now
    they are quite sour."


The Fox without tail

    A Fox once fell into a trap, and after a struggle managed to
    get free, but with the loss of his brush. He was then so much
    ashamed of his appearance that he thought life was not worth
    living unless he could persuade the other Foxes to part with
    their tails also, and thus divert attention from his own loss.
    So he called a meeting of all the Foxes, and advised them to
    cut off their tails: "They are ugly things anyhow," he said,
    "and besides they're heavy, and it's tiresome to be always
    carrying them about with you." But one of the other Foxes said,
    "My friend, if you hadn't lost your own tail, you wouldn't be
    so keen on getting us to cut off ours."


The Fox and the Crow

    A Crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese
    in her beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to
    discover some way of getting the cheese. Coming and standing
    under the tree he looked up and said, "What a noble bird I see
    above me! Her beauty is without equal, the hue of her plumage
    exquisite. If only her voice is as sweet as her looks are fair,
    she ought without doubt to be Queen of the Birds." The Crow was
    hugely flattered by this, and just to show the Fox that she
    could sing she gave a loud caw. Down came the cheese, of
    course, and the Fox, snatching it up, said, "You have a voice,
    madam, I see: what you want is wits."


The Lion and the wild Ass

    A Lion and a Wild Ass went out hunting together: the latter was
    to run down the prey by his superior speed, and the former
    would then come up and despatch it. They met with great
    success; and when it came to sharing the spoil the Lion divided
    it all into three equal portions. "I will take the first," said
    he, "because I am King of the beasts: I will also take the
    second, because, as your partner, I am entitled to half of what
    remains; and as for the third – well, unless you give it up to
    me and take yourself off pretty quick, the third, believe me,
    will make you feel very sorry for yourself!"


The Lioness and the Vixen

    A Lioness and a Vixen were talking together about their young,
    as mothers will, and saying how healthy and well-grown they
    were, and what beautiful coats they had, and how they were the
    image of their parents. "My litter of cubs is a joy to see,"
    said the Fox; and then she added, rather maliciously, "But I
    notice you never have more than one." "No," said the Lioness
    grimly, "but that one's a lion."


The Man and the Lion

    A Man and a Lion were companions on a journey, and in the
    course of conversation they began to boast about their prowess,
    and each claimed to be superior to the other in strength and
    courage. They were still arguing with some heat when they came
    to a cross-road where there was a statue of a man strangling a
    Lion. "There!" said the Man triumphantly, "look at that!
    Doesn't that prove to you that we are stronger than you?" "Not
    so fast, my friend," said the Lion: "that is only your view of
    the case. If we Lions could make statues, you may be sure that
    in most of them you would see the Man underneath."


The Lion in love

    A Lion fell deeply in love with the daughter of a cottager and
    wanted to marry her; but her father was unwilling to give her
    to so fearsome a husband, and yet didn't want to offend the
    Lion; so he hit upon the following expedient. He went to the
    Lion and said, "I think you will make a very good husband for
    my daughter: but I cannot consent to your union unless you let
    me draw your teeth and pare your nails, for my daughter is
    terribly afraid of them." The Lion was so much in love that he
    readily agreed that this should be done. When once, however, he
    was thus disarmed, the Cottager was affraid of him no longer,
    but drove him away with his club.


The Wolf and the Lamb

    A Wolf came upon a Lamb straying from the flock, and felt some
    compunction about taking the life of so helpless a creature
    without some plausible excuse; so he cast about for a grievance
    and said at last, "Last year, sirrah, you grossly insulted me."
    "That is impossible, sir," bleated the Lamb, "for I wasn't born
    then." "Well," retorted the Wolf, "you feed in in my pastures."
    "That cannot be," replied the Lamb, "for I have never yet
    tasted grass." "You drink from my spring, then," continued the
    Wolf. "Indeed, sir," said the pour Lamb, "I have never yet
    drunk anything but my mother's milk." "Well, anyhow," said the
    Wolf, "I'm not going without my dinner": and he sprang upon the
    Lamb and devoured it without more ado.


The Wolf and the Lion

    A Wolf stole a lamb from the flock, and was carrying it off do
    devour it at his leisure when he met a Lion, who took his prey
    away from him and walked off with it. He dared not resist, but
    when the Lion had gone some distance he said, "It is most
    unjust of you to take what's mine away from me like that." The
    Lion laughed and called out in reply, "It was justly yours, no
    doubt! The gift of a friend, perhaps, eh?"


The Astronomer

    There was once an Astronomer whose habit it was to go out at
    night and observe the stars. One night, as he was walking about
    outside the town gates, gazing up absorbed into the sky and not
    looking where he was going, he fell into a dry well. As he lay
    there groaning, some one passing by heard him, and, coming to
    the edge of the well, looked down and, on learning what had
    happened, said, "If you really mean to say that you were
    looking so hard at the sky that you didn't even see where your
    feet were carrying you along the ground, it appears to me that
    you deserve all yoüve got."


The Trumpeter taken prisoner

    A Trumpeter marched into battle in the van of the army and put
    courage into his comrades by his warlike tunes. Being captured
    by the enemy, he begged for his life, and said, "Do not put me
    to death; I have killed no one: indeed, I have no weapons, but
    carry with me only my trumpet here." But his captors replied,
    "That is only the more reason why we should take your life;
    for, though you do not fight yourself, you stir up others to do
    so."


The three tradesmen

    The citizens of a certain city were debating about the best
    material to use in the fortifications which were about to be
    erected for the greater security of the town. A Carpenter got
    up and advised the use of wood, which he said was readily
    procurable and easily worked. A Stone-mason objected to wood on
    the ground that it was so inflammable, and recommended stones
    instead. Then a Tanner got on his legs and said, "In my opinion
    there's nothing like leather."


The boasting Traveler

    A man once went abroad on his travels, and when he came home he
    had wonderful tales to tell of the things he had done in
    foreign countries. Among other things, he said he has taken
    part in a jumping-match at Rhodes, and had done a wonderful
    jump which no one could beat. "Just go to Rhodes and ask them,"
    he said; "every one will tell you it's true." But one of those
    who were listening said, "If you can jump as well as all that,
    we needn't do to Rhodes to prove it. Let's just imagine this is
    Rhodes for a minute: and now – jump!"


The Shepherd's Boy and the Wolf

    A Shepherd's Boy was tending his flock near a village, and
    thought it would be great fun to hoax the villagers by
    pretending that a Wolf was attacking the sheep: so he shouted
    out, "Wolf! wolf!" and when the people came running up he
    laughed at them for their pains. He did this more than once,
    and every time the villagers found they had been hoaxed, for
    there was no Wolf at all. At last a Wolf really did come, and
    the Boy cried, "Wolf! wolf!" as loud as he could: but the
    people were so used to hearing him call that they took no
    notice of his cries for help. And so the Wolf had it all his
    own way, and killed off sheep after sheep at his leisure.


Father and Sons

    A certain man had several Sons who were always quarrelling with
    one another, and, try as he might, he could not get them to
    live together in harmony. So he determined to convince them of
    their folly by the following means. Bidding them fetch a bundle
    of sticks, he invited each in turn to break it across his knee.
    All tried and all failed: and then he undid the bundle, and
    handed them the sticks one by one, when they had no difficulty
    at all in breaking them. "There, my boys," said he, "united you
    will be more than a match for your enemies: but if you quarrel
    and separate, your weakness will put you at the mercy of those
    who attack you."

M. Divjak