One winter a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold,

and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom.

The Viper was no sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a fatal bite upon him;

and as the poor man lay dying,

he cried,

"I have only got what I deserved,

for taking compassion on so villainous a creature."

Kindness is thrown away upon the evil.


Two Frogs were neighbours.

One lived in a marsh,

where there was plenty of water,

which frogs love: the other in a lane some distance away,

where all the water to be had was that which lay in the ruts after rain.

The Marsh Frog warned his friend and pressed him to come and live with him in the marsh,

for he would find his quarters there far more comfortable and --what was still more important --more safe.

But the other refused,

saying that he could not bring himself to move from a place to which he had become accustomed.

A few days afterwards a heavy waggon came down the lane,

and he was crushed to death under the wheels.


A very unskilful Cobbler,

finding himself unable to make a living at his trade,

gave up mending boots and took to doctoring instead.

He gave out that he had the secret of a universal antidote against all poisons,

and acquired no small reputation,

thanks to his talent for puffing himself.

One day,


he fell very ill;

and the King of the country bethought him that he would test the value of his remedy.



for a cup,

he poured out a dose of the antidote,


under pretence of mixing poison with it,

added a little water,

and commanded him to drink it.

Terrified by the fear of being poisoned,

the Cobbler confessed that he knew nothing about medicine,

and that his antidote was worthless.

Then the King summoned his subjects and addressed them as follows:

"What folly could be greater than yours?

Here is this Cobbler to whom no one will send his boots to be mended,

and yet you have not hesitated to entrust him with your lives!"




An Ass and a Cock were in a cattle-pen together.

Presently a Lion,

who had been starving for days,

came along and was just about to fall upon the Ass and make a meal of him when the Cock,

rising to his full height and flapping his wings vigorously,

uttered a tremendous crow.


if there is one thing that frightens a Lion,

it is the crowing of a Cock: and this one had no sooner heard the noise than he fled.

The Ass was mightily elated at this,

and thought that,

if the Lion couldn't face a Cock,

he would be still less likely to stand up to an Ass: so he ran out and pursued him.

But when the two had got well out of sight and hearing of the Cock,

the Lion suddenly turned upon the Ass and ate him up.

False confidence often leads to disaster.


The Members of the Body once rebelled against the Belly.


they said to the Belly,

"live in luxury and sloth,

and never do a stroke of work;

while we not only have to do all the hard work there is to be done,

but are actually your slaves and have to minister to all your wants.


we will do so no longer,

and you can shift for yourself for the future."

They were as good as their word,

and left the Belly to starve.

The result was just what might have been expected: the whole Body soon began to fail,

and the Members and all shared in the general collapse.

And then they saw too late how foolish they had been.


A Fly settled on the head of a Bald Man and bit him.

In his eagerness to kill it,

he hit himself a smart slap.

But the Fly escaped,

and said to him in derision,

"You tried to kill me for just one little bite;

what will you do to yourself now,

for the heavy smack you have just given yourself?"


for that blow I bear no grudge,"

he replied,

"for I never intended myself any harm;

but as for you,

you contemptible insect,

who live by sucking human blood,

I'd have borne a good deal more than that for the satisfaction of dashing the life out of you!"


An Ass was feeding in a meadow,


catching sight of his enemy the Wolf in the distance,

pretended to be very lame and hobbled painfully along.

When the Wolf came up,

he asked the Ass how he came to be so lame,

and the Ass replied that in going through a hedge he had trodden on a thorn,

and he begged the Wolf to pull it out with his teeth,

"In case,"

he said,

"when you eat me,

it should stick in your throat and hurt you very much."

The Wolf said he would,

and told the Ass to lift up his foot,

and gave his whole mind to getting out the thorn.

But the Ass suddenly let out with his heels and fetched the Wolf a fearful kick in the mouth,

breaking his teeth;

and then he galloped off at full speed.

As soon as he could speak the Wolf growled to himself,

"It serves me right: my father taught me to kill,

and I ought to have stuck to that trade instead of attempting to cure."


At a gathering of all the beasts the Monkey gave an exhibition of dancing and entertained the company vastly.

There was great applause at the finish,

which excited the envy of the Camel and made him desire to win the favour of the assembly by the same means.

So he got up from his place and began dancing,

but he cut such a ridiculous figure as he plunged about,

and made such a grotesque exhibition of his ungainly person,

that the beasts all fell upon him with ridicule and drove him away.


A Sick Man received a visit from his Doctor,

who asked him how he was.

"Fairly well,


said he,

"but I find I sweat a great deal."


said the Doctor,

"that's a good sign."

On his next visit he asked the same question,

and his patient replied,

"I'm much as usual,

but I've taken to having shivering fits,

which leave me cold all over."


said the Doctor,

"that's a good sign too."

When he came the third time and inquired as before about his patient's health,

the Sick Man said that he felt very feverish.

"A very good sign,"

said the Doctor;

"you are doing very nicely indeed."

Afterwards a friend came to see the invalid,

and on asking him how he did,

received this reply:

"My dear friend,

I'm dying of good signs."


Two Travellers were walking along a bare and dusty road in the heat of a summer's day.

Coming presently to a Plane-tree,

they joyfully turned aside to shelter from the burning rays of the sun in the deep shade of its spreading branches.

As they rested,

looking up into the tree,

one of them remarked to his companion,

"What a useless tree the Plane is!

It bears no fruit and is of no service to man at all."

The Plane-tree interrupted him with indignation.

"You ungrateful creature!"

it cried:

"you come and take shelter under me from the scorching sun,

and then,

in the very act of enjoying the cool shade of my foliage,

you abuse me and call me good for nothing!"

Many a service is met with ingratitude.


A Flea once said to an Ox,

"How comes it that a big strong fellow like you is content to serve mankind,

and do all their hard work for them,

while I,

who am no bigger than you see,

live on their bodies and drink my fill of their blood,

and never do a stroke for it all?"

To which the Ox replied,

"Men are very kind to me,

and so I am grateful to them: they feed and house me well,

and every now and then they show their fondness for me by patting me on the head and neck."

"They'd pat me,


said the Flea,

"if I let them: but I take good care they don't,

or there would be nothing left of me."




The Birds were at war with the Beasts,

and many battles were fought with varying success on either side.

The Bat did not throw in his lot definitely with either party,

but when things went well for the Birds he was found fighting in their ranks;


on the other hand,

the Beasts got the upper hand,

he was to be found among the Beasts.

No one paid any attention to him while the war lasted: but when it was over,

and peace was restored,

neither the Birds nor the Beasts would have anything to do with so double-faced a traitor,

and so he remains to this day a solitary outcast from both.


A Man of middle age,

whose hair was turning grey,

had two Sweethearts,

an old woman and a young one.

The elder of the two didn't like having a lover who looked so much younger than herself;


whenever he came to see her,

she used to pull the dark hairs out of his head to make him look old.

The younger,

on the other hand,

didn't like him to look so much older than herself,

and took every opportunity of pulling out the grey hairs,

to make him look young.

Between them,

they left not a hair in his head,

and he became perfectly bald.




One day a Jackdaw saw an Eagle swoop down on a lamb and carry it off in its talons.

"My word,"

said the Jackdaw,

"I'll do that myself."

So it flew high up into the air,

and then came shooting down with a great whirring of wings on to the back of a big ram.

It had no sooner alighted than its claws got caught fast in the wool,

and nothing it could do was of any use: there it stuck,

flapping away,

and only making things worse instead of better.

By and by up came the Shepherd.


he said,

"so that's what you'd be doing,

is it?"

And he took the Jackdaw,

and clipped its wings and carried it home to his children.

It looked so odd that they didn't know what to make of it.

"What sort of bird is it,


they asked.

"It's a Jackdaw,"

he replied,

"and nothing but a Jackdaw: but it wants to be taken for an Eagle."

If you attempt what is beyond your power,

your trouble will be wasted and you court not only misfortune but ridicule.


A Wolf,

who had just enjoyed a good meal and was in a playful mood,

caught sight of a Boy lying flat upon the ground,


realising that he was trying to hide,

and that it was fear of himself that made him do this,

he went up to him and said,


I've found you,

you see;

but if you can say three things to me,

the truth of which cannot be disputed,

I will spare your life."

The Boy plucked up courage and thought for a moment,

and then he said,


it is a pity you saw me;


I was a fool to let myself be seen;

and thirdly,

we all hate wolves because they are always making unprovoked attacks upon our flocks."

The Wolf replied,


what you say is true enough from your point of view;

so you may go."




A Miller,

accompanied by his young Son,

was driving his Ass to market in hopes of finding a purchaser for him.

On the road they met a troop of girls,

laughing and talking,

who exclaimed,

"Did you ever see such a pair of fools?

To be trudging along the dusty road when they might be riding!"

The Miller thought there was sense in what they said;

so he made his Son mount the Ass,

and himself walked at the side.

Presently they met some of his old cronies,

who greeted them and said,

"You'll spoil that Son of yours,

letting him ride while you toil along on foot!

Make him walk,

young lazybones!

It'll do him all the good in the world."

The Miller followed their advice,

and took his Son's place on the back of the Ass while the boy trudged along behind.

They had not gone far when they overtook a party of women and children,

and the Miller heard them say,

"What a selfish old man!

He himself rides in comfort,

but lets his poor little boy follow as best he can on his own legs!"

So he made his Son get up behind him.

Further along the road they met some travellers,

who asked the Miller whether the Ass he was riding was his own property,

or a beast hired for the occasion.

He replied that it was his own,

and that he was taking it to market to sell.

"Good heavens!"

said they,

"with a load like that the poor beast will be so exhausted by the time he gets there that no one will look at him.


you'd do better to carry him!"

"Anything to please you,"

said the old man,

"we can but try."

So they got off,

tied the Ass's legs together with a rope and slung him on a pole,

and at last reached the town,

carrying him between them.

This was so absurd a sight that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it,

and chaffed the Father and Son unmercifully,

some even calling them lunatics.

They had then got to a bridge over the river,

where the Ass,

frightened by the noise and his unusual situation,

kicked and struggled till he broke the ropes that bound him,

and fell into the water and was drowned.

Whereupon the unfortunate Miller,

vexed and ashamed,

made the best of his way home again,

convinced that in trying to please all he had pleased none,

and had lost his Ass into the bargain.


A Stag,

pursued by the huntsmen,

concealed himself under cover of a thick Vine.

They lost track of him and passed by his hiding-place without being aware that he was anywhere near.

Supposing all danger to be over,

he presently began to browse on the leaves of the Vine.

The movement drew the attention of the returning huntsmen,

and one of them,

supposing some animal to be hidden there,

shot an arrow at a venture into the foliage.

The unlucky Stag was pierced to the heart,


as he expired,

he said,

"I deserve my fate for my treachery in feeding upon the leaves of my protector."

Ingratitude sometimes brings its own punishment.


A Wolf was chasing a Lamb,

which took refuge in a temple.

The Wolf urged it to come out of the precincts,

and said,

"If you don't,

the priest is sure to catch you and offer you up in sacrifice on the altar."

To which the Lamb replied,


I think I'll stay where I am: I'd rather be sacrificed any day than be eaten up by a Wolf."


An Archer went up into the hills to get some sport with his bow,

and all the animals fled at the sight of him with the exception of the Lion,

who stayed behind and challenged him to fight.

But he shot an arrow at the Lion and hit him,

and said,


you see what my messenger can do: just you wait a moment and I'll tackle you myself."

The Lion,


when he felt the sting of the arrow,

ran away as fast as his legs could carry him.

A fox,

who had seen it all happen,

said to the Lion,


don't be a coward: why don't you stay and show fight?"

But the Lion replied,

"You won't get me to stay,

not you: why,

when he sends a messenger like that before him,

he must himself be a terrible fellow to deal with."

Give a wide berth to those who can do damage at a distance.


A Wolf caught sight of a Goat browsing above him on the scanty herbage that grew on the top of a steep rock;

and being unable to get at her,

tried to induce her to come lower down.

"You are risking your life up there,


indeed you are,"

he called out:

"pray take my advice and come down here,

where you will find plenty of better food."

The Goat turned a knowing eye upon him.

"It's little you care whether I get good grass or bad,"

said she:

"what you want is to eat me."


A Stag fell sick and lay in a clearing in the forest,

too weak to move from the spot.

When the news of his illness spread,

a number of the other beasts came to inquire after his health,

and they one and all nibbled a little of the grass that grew round the invalid till at last there was not a blade within his reach.

In a few days he began to mend,

but was still too feeble to get up and go in search of fodder;

and thus he perished miserably of hunger owing to the thoughtlessness of his friends.


A certain man who had an Ass and a Mule loaded them both up one day and set out upon a journey.

So long as the road was fairly level,

the Ass got on very well: but by and by they came to a place among the hills where the road was very rough and steep,

and the Ass was at his last gasp.

So he begged the Mule to relieve him of a part of his load: but the Mule refused.

At last,

from sheer weariness,

the Ass stumbled and fell down a steep place and was killed.

The driver was in despair,

but he did the best he could: he added the Ass's load to the Mule's,

and he also flayed the Ass and put his skin on the top of the double load.

The Mule could only just manage the extra weight,


as he staggered painfully along,

he said to himself,

"I have only got what I deserved: if I had been willing to help the Ass at first,

I should not now be carrying his load and his skin into the bargain."


A certain man had two children,

a boy and a girl: and the boy was as good-looking as the girl was plain.

One day,

as they were playing together in their mother's chamber,

they chanced upon a mirror and saw their own features for the first time.

The boy saw what a handsome fellow he was,

and began to boast to his Sister about his good looks: she,

on her part,

was ready to cry with vexation when she was aware of her plainness,

and took his remarks as an insult to herself.

Running to her father,

she told him of her Brother's conceit,

and accused him of meddling with his mother's things.

He laughed and kissed them both,

and said,

"My children,

learn from now onwards to make a good use of the glass.


my boy,

strive to be as good as it shows you to be handsome;

and you,

my girl,

resolve to make up for the plainness of your features by the sweetness of your disposition."


A Heifer went up to an Ox,

who was straining hard at the plough,

and sympathised with him in a rather patronising sort of way on the necessity of his having to work so hard.

Not long afterwards there was a festival in the village and every one kept holiday: but,

whereas the Ox was turned loose into the pasture,

the Heifer was seized and led off to sacrifice.


said the Ox,

with a grim smile,

"I see now why you were allowed to have such an idle time: it was because you were always intended for the altar."


When the Lion reigned over the beasts of the earth he was never cruel or tyrannical,

but as gentle and just as a King ought to be.

During his reign he called a general assembly of the beasts,

and drew up a code of laws under which all were to live in perfect equality and harmony: the wolf and the lamb,

the tiger and the stag,

the leopard and the kid,

the dog and the hare,

all should dwell side by side in unbroken peace and friendship.

The hare said,


how I have longed for this day when the weak take their place without fear by the side of the strong!"


An Ass was being driven down a mountain road,

and after jogging along for a while sensibly enough he suddenly quitted the track and rushed to the edge of a precipice.

He was just about to leap over the edge when his Driver caught hold of his tail and did his best to pull him back: but pull as he might he couldn't get the Ass to budge from the brink.

At last he gave up,


"All right,


get to the bottom your own way;

but it's the way to sudden death,

as you'll find out quick enough."


A Lion found a Hare sleeping in her form,

and was just going to devour her when he caught sight of a passing stag.

Dropping the Hare,

he at once made for the bigger game;

but finding,

after a long chase,

that he could not overtake the stag,

he abandoned the attempt and came back for the Hare.

When he reached the spot,


he found she was nowhere to be seen,

and he had to go without his dinner.

"It serves me right,"

he said;

"I should have been content with what I had got,

instead of hankering after a better prize."


Once upon a time the Wolves said to the Dogs,

"Why should we continue to be enemies any longer?

You are very like us in most ways: the main difference between us is one of training only.

We live a life of freedom;

but you are enslaved to mankind,

who beat you,

and put heavy collars round your necks,

and compel you to keep watch over their flocks and herds for them,


to crown all,

they give you nothing but bones to eat.

Don't put up with it any longer,

but hand over the flocks to us,

and we will all live on the fat of the land and feast together."

The Dogs allowed themselves to be persuaded by these words,

and accompanied the Wolves into their den.

But no sooner were they well inside than the Wolves set upon them and tore them to pieces.

Traitors richly deserve their fate.


A full-grown Bull was struggling to force his huge bulk through the narrow entrance to a cow-house where his stall was,

when a young Calf came up and said to him,

"If you'll step aside a moment,

I'll show you the way to get through."

The Bull turned upon him an amused look.

"I knew that way,"

said he,

"before you were born."


A Woodman went into the forest and begged of the Trees the favour of a handle for his Axe.

The principal Trees at once agreed to so modest a request,

and unhesitatingly gave him a young ash sapling,

out of which he fashioned the handle he desired.

No sooner had he done so than he set to work to fell the noblest Trees in the wood.

When they saw the use to which he was putting their gift,

they cried,



We are undone,

but we are ourselves to blame.

The little we gave has cost us all: had we not sacrificed the rights of the ash,

we might ourselves have stood for ages."


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,


coming to the edge of the well,

looked down and,

on learning what had happened,


"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 you've got."


A Labourer's little son was bitten by a Snake and died of the wound.

The father was beside himself with grief,

and in his anger against the Snake he caught up an axe and went and stood close to the Snake's hole,

and watched for a chance of killing it.

Presently the Snake came out,

and the man aimed a blow at it,

but only succeeded in cutting off the tip of its tail before it wriggled in again.

He then tried to get it to come out a second time,

pretending that he wished to make up the quarrel.

But the Snake said,

"I can never be your friend because of my lost tail,

nor you mine because of your lost child."

Injuries are never forgotten in the presence of those who caused them.


A Singing-bird was confined in a cage which hung outside a window,

and had a way of singing at night when all other birds were asleep.

One night a Bat came and clung to the bars of the cage,

and asked the Bird why she was silent by day and sang only at night.

"I have a very good reason for doing so,"

said the Bird:

"it was once when I was singing in the daytime that a fowler was attracted by my voice,

and set his nets for me and caught me.

Since then I have never sung except by night."

But the Bat replied,

"It is no use your doing that now when you are a prisoner: if only you had done so before you were caught,

you might still have been free."

Precautions are useless after the event.


A Man who wanted to buy an Ass went to market,


coming across a likely-looking beast,

arranged with the owner that he should be allowed to take him home on trial to see what he was like.

When he reached home,

he put him into his stable along with the other asses.

The newcomer took a look round,

and immediately went and chose a place next to the laziest and greediest beast in the stable.

When the master saw this he put a halter on him at once,

and led him off and handed him over to his owner again.

The latter was a good deal surprised to see him back so soon,

and said,


do you mean to say you have tested him already?"

"I don't want to put him through any more tests,"

replied the other:

"I could see what sort of beast he is from the companion he chose for himself."

A man is known by the company he keeps.


A Kid strayed from the flock and was chased by a Wolf.

When he saw he must be caught he turned round and said to the Wolf,

"I know,


that I can't escape being eaten by you: and so,

as my life is bound to be short,

I pray you let it be as merry as may be.

Will you not play me a tune to dance to before I die?"

The Wolf saw no objection to having some music before his dinner: so he took out his pipe and began to play,

while the Kid danced before him.

Before many minutes were passed the gods who guarded the flock heard the sound and came up to see what was going on.

They no sooner clapped eyes on the Wolf than they gave chase and drove him away.

As he ran off,

he turned and said to the Kid,

"It's what I thoroughly deserve: my trade is the butcher's,

and I had no business to turn piper to please you."


A Man of Athens fell into debt and was pressed for the money by his creditor;

but he had no means of paying at the time,

so he begged for delay.

But the creditor refused and said he must pay at once.

Then the Debtor fetched a Sow --the only one he had --and took her to market to offer her for sale.

It happened that his creditor was there too.

Presently a buyer came along and asked if the Sow produced good litters.


said the Debtor,

"very fine ones;

and the remarkable thing is that she produces females at the Mysteries and males at the Panathenea."

(Festivals these were: and the Athenians always sacrifice a sow at one,

and a boar at the other;

while at the Dionysia they sacrifice a kid.)

At that the creditor,

who was standing by,

put in,

"Don't be surprised,



still better,

at the Dionysia this Sow has kids!"


A Man who had lost all his hair took to wearing a wig,

and one day he went out hunting.

It was blowing rather hard at the time,

and he hadn't gone far before a gust of wind caught his hat and carried it off,

and his wig too,

much to the amusement of the hunt.

But he quite entered into the joke,

and said,



the hair that wig is made of didn't stick to the head on which it grew;

so it's no wonder it won't stick to mine."


A Herdsman was tending his cattle when he missed a young Bull,

one of the finest of the herd.

He went at once to look for him,


meeting with no success in his search,

he made a vow that,

if he should discover the thief,

he would sacrifice a calf to Jupiter.

Continuing his search,

he entered a thicket,

where he presently espied a lion devouring the lost Bull.

Terrified with fear,

he raised his hands to heaven and cried,

"Great Jupiter,

I vowed I would sacrifice a calf to thee if I should discover the thief: but now a full-grown Bull I promise thee if only I myself escape unhurt from his clutches."


One morning a Mule,

who had too much to eat and too little to do,

began to think himself a very fine fellow indeed,

and frisked about saying,

"My father was undoubtedly a high-spirited horse and I take after him entirely."

But very soon afterwards he was put into the harness and compelled to go a very long way with a heavy load behind him.

At the end of the day,

exhausted by his unusual exertions,

he said dejectedly to himself,

"I must have been mistaken about my father;

he can only have been an ass after all."


A Hound,

roaming in the forest,

spied a lion,

and being well used to lesser game,

gave chase,

thinking he would make a fine quarry.

Presently the lion perceived that he was being pursued;


stopping short,

he rounded on his pursuer and gave a loud roar.

The Hound immediately turned tail and fled.

A Fox,

seeing him running away,

jeered at him and said,



There goes the coward who chased a lion and ran away the moment he roared!"


A Man had two Daughters,

one of whom he gave in marriage to a gardener,

and the other to a potter.

After a time he thought he would go and see how they were getting on;

and first he went to the gardener's wife.

He asked her how she was,

and how things were going with herself and her husband.

She replied that on the whole they were doing very well:


she continued,

"I do wish we could have some good heavy rain: the garden wants it badly."

Then he went on to the potter's wife and made the same inquiries of her.

She replied that she and her husband had nothing to complain of:


she went on,

"I do wish we could have some nice dry weather,

to dry the pottery."

Her Father looked at her with a humorous expression on his face.

"You want dry weather,"

he said,

"and your sister wants rain.

I was going to ask in my prayers that your wishes should be granted;

but now it strikes me I had better not refer to the subject."


A Thief hired a room at an inn,

and stayed there some days on the look-out for something to steal.

No opportunity,


presented itself,

till one day,

when there was a festival to be celebrated,

the Innkeeper appeared in a fine new coat and sat down before the door of the inn for an airing.

The Thief no sooner set eyes upon the coat than he longed to get possession of it.

There was no business doing,

so he went and took a seat by the side of the Innkeeper,

and began talking to him.

They conversed together for some time,

and then the Thief suddenly yawned and howled like a wolf.

The Innkeeper asked him in some concern what ailed him.

The Thief replied,

"I will tell you about myself,


but first I must beg you to take charge of my clothes for me,

for I intend to leave them with you.

Why I have these fits of yawning I cannot tell: maybe they are sent as a punishment for my misdeeds;


whatever the reason,

the facts are that when I have yawned three times I become a ravening wolf and fly at men's throats."

As he finished speaking he yawned a second time and howled again as before.

The Innkeeper,

believing every word he said,

and terrified at the prospect of being confronted with a wolf,

got up hastily and started to run indoors;

but the Thief caught him by the coat and tried to stop him,





and take charge of my clothes,

or else I shall never see them again."

As he spoke he opened his mouth and began to yawn for the third time.

The Innkeeper,

mad with the fear of being eaten by a wolf,

slipped out of his coat,

which remained in the other's hands,

and bolted into the inn and locked the door behind him;

and the Thief then quietly stole off with his spoil.


A Wild Ass,

who was wandering idly about,

one day came upon a Pack-Ass lying at full length in a sunny spot and thoroughly enjoying himself.

Going up to him,

he said,

"What a lucky beast you are!

Your sleek coat shows how well you live: how I envy you!"

Not long after the Wild Ass saw his acquaintance again,

but this time he was carrying a heavy load,

and his driver was following behind and beating him with a thick stick.


my friend,"

said the Wild Ass,

"I don't envy you any more: for I see you pay dear for your comforts."

Advantages that are dearly bought are doubtful blessings.


A Gardener had an Ass which had a very hard time of it,

what with scanty food,

heavy loads,

and constant beating.

The Ass therefore begged Jupiter to take him away from the Gardener and hand him over to another master.

So Jupiter sent Mercury to the Gardener to bid him sell the Ass to a Potter,

which he did.

But the Ass was as discontented as ever,

for he had to work harder than before: so he begged Jupiter for relief a second time,

and Jupiter very obligingly arranged that he should be sold to a Tanner.

But when the Ass saw what his new master's trade was,

he cried in despair,

"Why wasn't I content to serve either of my former masters,

hard as I had to work and badly as I was treated?

for they would have buried me decently,

but now I shall come in the end to the tanning-vat."

Servants don't know a good master till they have served a worse.




A Wild Ass saw a Pack-Ass jogging along under a heavy load,

and taunted him with the condition of slavery in which he lived,

in these words:

"What a vile lot is yours compared with mine!

I am free as the air,

and never do a stroke of work;


as for fodder,

I have only to go to the hills and there I find far more than enough for my needs.

But you!

you depend on your master for food,

and he makes you carry heavy loads every day and beats you unmercifully."

At that moment a Lion appeared on the scene,

and made no attempt to molest the Pack-Ass owing to the presence of the driver;

but he fell upon the Wild Ass,

who had no one to protect him,

and without more ado made a meal of him.

It is no use being your own master unless you can stand up for yourself.


Ants were once men and made their living by tilling the soil.


not content with the results of their own work,

they were always casting longing eyes upon the crops and fruits of their neighbours,

which they stole,

whenever they got the chance,

and added to their own store.

At last their covetousness made Jupiter so angry that he changed them into Ants.


though their forms were changed,

their nature remained the same: and so,

to this day,

they go about among the cornfields and gather the fruits of others' labour,

and store them up for their own use.

You may punish a thief,

but his bent remains.


Two Frogs lived together in a marsh.

But one hot summer the marsh dried up,

and they left it to look for another place to live in: for frogs like damp places if they can get them.

By and by they came to a deep well,

and one of them looked down into it,

and said to the other,

"This looks a nice cool place: let us jump in and settle here."

But the other,

who had a wiser head on his shoulders,


"Not so fast,

my friend: supposing this well dried up like the marsh,

how should we get out again?"

Think twice before you act.


A Crab once left the sea-shore and went and settled in a meadow some way inland,

which looked very nice and green and seemed likely to be a good place to feed in.

But a hungry Fox came along and spied the Crab and caught him.

Just as he was going to be eaten up,

the Crab said,

"This is just what I deserve;

for I had no business to leave my natural home by the sea and settle here as though I belonged to the land."

Be content with your lot.


A Grasshopper sat chirping in the branches of a tree.

A Fox heard her,


thinking what a dainty morsel she would make,

he tried to get her down by a trick.

Standing below in full view of her,

he praised her song in the most flattering terms,

and begged her to descend,

saying he would like to make the acquaintance of the owner of so beautiful a voice.

But she was not to be taken in,

and replied,

"You are very much mistaken,

my dear sir,

if you imagine I am going to come down: I keep well out of the way of you and your kind ever since the day when I saw numbers of grasshoppers' wings strewn about the entrance to a fox's earth."




A Farmer had just sown a field of wheat,

and was keeping a careful watch over it,

for numbers of Rooks and starlings kept continually settling on it and eating up the grain.

Along with him went his Boy,

carrying a sling: and whenever the Farmer asked for the sling the starlings understood what he said and warned the Rooks and they were off in a moment.

So the Farmer hit on a trick.

"My lad,"

said he,

"we must get the better of these birds somehow.

After this,

when I want the sling,

I won't say


but just


and you must then hand me the sling quickly."

Presently back came the whole flock.


said the Farmer;

but the starlings took no notice,

and he had time to sling several stones among them,

hitting one on the head,

another in the legs,

and another in the wing,

before they got out of range.

As they made all haste away they met some cranes,

who asked them what the matter was.


said one of the Rooks;

"it's those rascals,


that are the matter.

Don't you go near them.

They have a way of saying one thing and meaning another which has just been the death of several of our poor friends."


An Ass and a Dog were on their travels together,


as they went along,

they found a sealed packet lying on the ground.

The Ass picked it up,

broke the seal,

and found it contained some writing,

which he proceeded to read out aloud to the Dog.

As he read on it turned out to be all about grass and barley and hay --in short,

all the kinds of fodder that Asses are fond of.

The Dog was a good deal bored with listening to all this,

till at last his impatience got the better of him,

and he cried,

"Just skip a few pages,


and see if there isn't something about meat and bones."

The Ass glanced all through the packet,

but found nothing of the sort,

and said so.

Then the Dog said in disgust,


throw it away,

do: what's the good of a thing like that?"


A certain man put an Image on the back of his Ass to take it to one of the temples of the town.

As they went along the road all the people they met uncovered and bowed their heads out of reverence for the Image;

but the Ass thought they were doing it out of respect for himself,

and began to give himself airs accordingly.

At last he became so conceited that he imagined he could do as he liked,


by way of protest against the load he was carrying,

he came to a full stop and flatly declined to proceed any further.

His driver,

finding him so obstinate,

hit him hard and long with his stick,

saying the while,


you dunder-headed idiot,

do you suppose it's come to this,

that men pay worship to an Ass?"

Rude shocks await those who take to themselves the credit that is due to others.


An Athenian and a Theban were on the road together,

and passed the time in conversation,

as is the way of travellers.

After discussing a variety of subjects they began to talk about heroes,

a topic that tends to be more fertile than edifying.

Each of them was lavish in his praises of the heroes of his own city,

until eventually the Theban asserted that Hercules was the greatest hero who had ever lived on earth,

and now occupied a foremost place among the gods;

while the Athenian insisted that Theseus was far superior,

for his fortune had been in every way supremely blessed,

whereas Hercules had at one time been forced to act as a servant.

And he gained his point,

for he was a very glib fellow,

like all Athenians;

so that the Theban,

who was no match for him in talking,

cried at last in some disgust,

"All right,

have your way;

I only hope that,

when our heroes are angry with us,

Athens may suffer from the anger of Hercules,

and Thebes only from that of Theseus."


A Goatherd was one day gathering his flock to return to the fold,

when one of his goats strayed and refused to join the rest.

He tried for a long time to get her to return by calling and whistling to her,

but the Goat took no notice of him at all;

so at last he threw a stone at her and broke one of her horns.

In dismay,

he begged her not to tell his master: but she replied,

"You silly fellow,

my horn would cry aloud even if I held my tongue."

It's no use trying to hide what can't be hidden.


Once upon a time the Sheep complained to the shepherd about the difference in his treatment of themselves and his Dog.

"Your conduct,"

said they,

"is very strange and,

we think,

very unfair.

We provide you with wool and lambs and milk and you give us nothing but grass,

and even that we have to find for ourselves: but you get nothing at all from the Dog,

and yet you feed him with tit-bits from your own table."

Their remarks were overheard by the Dog,

who spoke up at once and said,


and quite right,

too: where would you be if it wasn't for me?

Thieves would steal you!

Wolves would eat you!


if I didn't keep constant watch over you,

you would be too terrified even to graze!"

The Sheep were obliged to acknowledge that he spoke the truth,

and never again made a grievance of the regard in which he was held by his master.


A Shepherd found a Wolf's Cub straying in the pastures,

and took him home and reared him along with his dogs.

When the Cub grew to his full size,

if ever a wolf stole a sheep from the flock,

he used to join the dogs in hunting him down.

It sometimes happened that the dogs failed to come up with the thief,


abandoning the pursuit,

returned home.

The Wolf would on such occasions continue the chase by himself,

and when he overtook the culprit,

would stop and share the feast with him,

and then return to the Shepherd.

But if some time passed without a sheep being carried off by the wolves,

he would steal one himself and share his plunder with the dogs.

The Shepherd's suspicions were aroused,

and one day he caught him in the act;


fastening a rope round his neck,

hung him on the nearest tree.

What's bred in the bone is sure to come out in the flesh.




The Lion,

for all his size and strength,

and his sharp teeth and claws,

is a coward in one thing: he can't bear the sound of a cock crowing,

and runs away whenever he hears it.

He complained bitterly to Jupiter for making him like that;

but Jupiter said it wasn't his fault: he had done the best he could for him,


considering this was his only failing,

he ought to be well content.

The Lion,


wouldn't be comforted,

and was so ashamed of his timidity that he wished he might die.

In this state of mind,

he met the Elephant and had a talk with him.

He noticed that the great beast cocked up his ears all the time,

as if he were listening for something,

and he asked him why he did so.

Just then a gnat came humming by,

and the Elephant said,

"Do you see that wretched little buzzing insect?

I'm terribly afraid of its getting into my ear: if it once gets in,

I'm dead and done for."

The Lion's spirits rose at once when he heard this:


he said to himself,

"if the Elephant,

huge as he is,

is afraid of a gnat,

I needn't be so much ashamed of being afraid of a cock,

who is ten thousand times bigger than a gnat."


A Pig found his way into a meadow where a flock of Sheep were grazing.

The shepherd caught him,

and was proceeding to carry him off to the butcher's when he set up a loud squealing and struggled to get free.

The Sheep rebuked him for making such a to-do,

and said to him,

"The shepherd catches us regularly and drags us off just like that,

and we don't make any fuss."


I dare say not,"

replied the Pig,

"but my case and yours are altogether different: he only wants you for wool,

but he wants me for bacon."


A Gardner's Dog fell into a deep well,

from which his master used to draw water for the plants in his garden with a rope and a bucket.

Failing to get the Dog out by means of these,

the Gardener went down into the well himself in order to fetch him up.

But the Dog thought he had come to make sure of drowning him;

so he bit his master as soon as he came within reach,

and hurt him a good deal,

with the result that he left the Dog to his fate and climbed out of the well,


"It serves me quite right for trying to save so determined a suicide."


Once upon a time all the Rivers combined to protest against the action of the Sea in making their waters salt.

"When we come to you,"

said they to the Sea,

"we are sweet and drinkable: but when once we have mingled with you,

our waters become as briny and unpalatable as your own."

The Sea replied shortly,

"Keep away from me and you'll remain sweet."


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,


he was thus disarmed,

the Cottager was afraid of him no longer,

but drove him away with his club.


A Thief found his way into an apiary when the Bee-keeper was away,

and stole all the honey.

When the Keeper returned and found the hives empty,

he was very much upset and stood staring at them for some time.

Before long the bees came back from gathering honey,


finding their hives overturned and the Keeper standing by,

they made for him with their stings.

At this he fell into a passion and cried,

"You ungrateful scoundrels,

you let the thief who stole my honey get off scot-free,

and then you go and sting me who have always taken such care of you!"

When you hit back make sure you have got the right man.


A Wolf on his rambles came to a field of oats,


not being able to eat them,

he was passing on his way when a Horse came along.


said the Wolf,

"here's a fine field of oats.

For your sake I have left it untouched,

and I shall greatly enjoy the sound of your teeth munching the ripe grain."

But the Horse replied,

"If wolves could eat oats,

my fine friend,

you would hardly have indulged your ears at the cost of your belly."

There is no virtue in giving to others what is useless to oneself.




A Bat,

a Bramble,

and a Seagull went into partnership and determined to go on a trading voyage together.

The Bat borrowed a sum of money for his venture;

the Bramble laid in a stock of clothes of various kinds;

and the Seagull took a quantity of lead: and so they set out.

By and by a great storm came on,

and their boat with all the cargo went to the bottom,

but the three travellers managed to reach land.

Ever since then the Seagull flies to and fro over the sea,

and every now and then dives below the surface,

looking for the lead he's lost;

while the Bat is so afraid of meeting his creditors that he hides away by day and only comes out at night to feed;

and the Bramble catches hold of the clothes of every one who passes by,

hoping some day to recognise and recover the lost garments.

All men are more concerned to recover what they lose than to acquire what they lack.


A Dog was lying in the sun before a farmyard gate when a Wolf pounced upon him and was just going to eat him up;

but he begged for his life and said,

"You see how thin I am and what a wretched meal I should make you now: but if you will only wait a few days my master is going to give a feast.

All the rich scraps and pickings will fall to me and I shall get nice and fat: then will be the time for you to eat me."

The Wolf thought this was a very good plan and went away.

Some time afterwards he came to the farmyard again,

and found the Dog lying out of reach on the stable roof.

"Come down,"

he called,

"and be eaten: you remember our agreement?"

But the Dog said coolly,

"My friend,

if ever you catch me lying down by the gate there again,

don't you wait for any feast."

Once bitten,

twice shy.


A Wasp settled on the head of a Snake,

and not only stung him several times,

but clung obstinately to the head of his victim.

Maddened with pain the Snake tried every means he could think of to get rid of the creature,

but without success.

At last he became desperate,

and crying,

"Kill you I will,

even at the cost of my own life,"

he laid his head with the Wasp on it under the wheel of a passing waggon,

and they both perished together.


An Eagle was chasing a hare,

which was running for dear life and was at her wits' end to know where to turn for help.

Presently she espied a Beetle,

and begged it to aid her.

So when the Eagle came up the Beetle warned her not to touch the hare,

which was under its protection.

But the Eagle never noticed the Beetle because it was so small,

seized the hare and ate her up.

The Beetle never forgot this,

and used to keep an eye on the Eagle's nest,

and whenever the Eagle laid an egg it climbed up and rolled it out of the nest and broke it.

At last the Eagle got so worried over the loss of her eggs that she went up to Jupiter,

who is the special protector of Eagles,

and begged him to give her a safe place to nest in: so he let her lay her eggs in his lap.

But the Beetle noticed this and made a ball of dirt the size of an Eagle's egg,

and flew up and deposited it in Jupiter's lap.

When Jupiter saw the dirt,

he stood up to shake it out of his robe,


forgetting about the eggs,

he shook them out too,

and they were broken just as before.

Ever since then,

they say,

Eagles never lay their eggs at the season when Beetles are about.

The weak will sometimes find ways to avenge an insult,

even upon the strong.


A Fowler was setting his nets for little birds when a Lark came up to him and asked him what he was doing.

"I am engaged in founding a city,"

said he,

and with that he withdrew to a short distance and concealed himself.

The Lark examined the nets with great curiosity,

and presently,

catching sight of the bait,

hopped on to them in order to secure it,

and became entangled in the meshes.

The Fowler then ran up quickly and captured her.

"What a fool I was!"

said she:

"but at any rate,

if that's the kind of city you are founding,

it'll be a long time before you find fools enough to fill it."


A Fisherman who could play the flute went down one day to the sea-shore with his nets and his flute;


taking his stand on a projecting rock,

began to play a tune,

thinking that the music would bring the fish jumping out of the sea.

He went on playing for some time,

but not a fish appeared: so at last he threw down his flute and cast his net into the sea,

and made a great haul of fish.

When they were landed and he saw them leaping about on the shore,

he cried,

"You rascals!

you wouldn't dance when I piped: but now I've stopped,

you can do nothing else!"


A Man once caught a Weasel,

which was always sneaking about the house,

and was just going to drown it in a tub of water,

when it begged hard for its life,

and said to him,

"Surely you haven't the heart to put me to death?

Think how useful I have been in clearing your house of the mice and lizards which used to infest it,

and show your gratitude by sparing my life."

"You have not been altogether useless,

I grant you,"

said the Man:

"but who killed the fowls?

Who stole the meat?



You do much more harm than good,

and die you shall."




A Ploughman yoked his Ox and his Ass together,

and set to work to plough his field.

It was a poor makeshift of a team,

but it was the best he could do,

as he had but a single Ox.

At the end of the day,

when the beasts were loosed from the yoke,

the Ass said to the Ox,


we've had a hard day: which of us is to carry the master home?"

The Ox looked surprised at the question.


said he,


to be sure,

as usual."


Demades the orator was once speaking in the Assembly at Athens;

but the people were very inattentive to what he was saying,

so he stopped and said,


I should like to tell you one of Æsop's fables."

This made every one listen intently.

Then Demades began:


a Swallow,

and an Eel were once travelling together,

and came to a river without a bridge: the Swallow flew over it,

and the Eel swam across";

and then he stopped.

"What happened to Demeter?"

cried several people in the audience.


he replied,

"is very angry with you for listening to fables when you ought to be minding public business."


When people go on a voyage they often take with them lap-dogs or monkeys as pets to wile away the time.

Thus it fell out that a man returning to Athens from the East had a pet Monkey on board with him.

As they neared the coast of Attica a great storm burst upon them,

and the ship capsized.

All on board were thrown into the water,

and tried to save themselves by swimming,

the Monkey among the rest.

A Dolphin saw him,


supposing him to be a man,

took him on his back and began swimming towards the shore.

When they got near the Piræus,

which is the port of Athens,

the Dolphin asked the Monkey if he was an Athenian.

The Monkey replied that he was,

and added that he came of a very distinguished family.


of course,

you know the Piræus,"

continued the Dolphin.

The Monkey thought he was referring to some high official or other,

and replied,



he's a very old friend of mine."

At that,

detecting his hypocrisy,

the Dolphin was so disgusted that he dived below the surface,

and the unfortunate Monkey was quickly drowned.


A hungry Crow spied a Snake lying asleep in a sunny spot,


picking it up in his claws,

he was carrying it off to a place where he could make a meal of it without being disturbed,

when the Snake reared its head and bit him.

It was a poisonous Snake,

and the bite was fatal,

and the dying Crow said,

"What a cruel fate is mine!

I thought I had made a lucky find,

and it has cost me my life!"


Some Dogs once found a lion's skin,

and were worrying it with their teeth.

Just then a Fox came by,

and said,

"You think yourselves very brave,

no doubt;

but if that were a live lion you'd find his claws a good deal sharper than your teeth."


A Nightingale was sitting on a bough of an oak and singing,

as her custom was.

A hungry Hawk presently spied her,

and darting to the spot seized her in his talons.

He was just about to tear her in pieces when she begged him to spare her life:

"I'm not big enough,"

she pleaded,

"to make you a good meal: you ought to seek your prey among the bigger birds."

The Hawk eyed her with some contempt.

"You must think me very simple,"

said he,

"if you suppose I am going to give up a certain prize on the chance of a better of which I see at present no signs."


A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,

and the Amaranth said to her neighbour,

"How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent!

No wonder you are such a universal favourite."

But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice,


my dear friend,

I bloom but for a time: my petals soon wither and fall,

and then I die.

But your flowers never fade,

even if they are cut;

for they are everlasting."





One winter's day,

during a severe storm,

a Horse,

an Ox,

and a Dog came and begged for shelter in the house of a Man.

He readily admitted them,


as they were cold and wet,

he lit a fire for their comfort: and he put oats before the Horse,

and hay before the Ox,

while he fed the Dog with the remains of his own dinner.

When the storm abated,

and they were about to depart,

they determined to show their gratitude in the following way.

They divided the life of Man among them,

and each endowed one part of it with the qualities which were peculiarly his own.

The Horse took youth,

and hence young men are high-mettled and impatient of restraint;

the Ox took middle age,

and accordingly men in middle life are steady and hard-working;

while the Dog took old age,

which is the reason why old men are so often peevish and ill-tempered,


like dogs,

attached chiefly to those who look to their comfort,

while they are disposed to snap at those who are unfamiliar or distasteful to them.




The Wolves sent a deputation to the Sheep with proposals for a lasting peace between them,

on condition of their giving up the sheep-dogs to instant death.

The foolish Sheep agreed to the terms;

but an old Ram,

whose years had brought him wisdom,

interfered and said,

"How can we expect to live at peace with you?


even with the dogs at hand to protect us,

we are never secure from your murderous attacks!"


The Swan is said to sing but once in its life --when it knows that it is about to die.

A certain man,

who had heard of the song of the Swan,

one day saw one of these birds for sale in the market,

and bought it and took it home with him.

A few days later he had some friends to dinner,

and produced the Swan,

and bade it sing for their entertainment: but the Swan remained silent.

In course of time,

when it was growing old,

it became aware of its approaching end and broke into a sweet,

sad song.

When its owner heard it,

he said angrily,

"If the creature only sings when it is about to die,

what a fool I was that day I wanted to hear its song!

I ought to have wrung its neck instead of merely inviting it to sing."


A Snake suffered a good deal from being constantly trodden upon by man and beast,

owing partly to the length of his body and partly to his being unable to raise himself above the surface of the ground: so he went and complained to Jupiter about the risks to which he was exposed.

But Jupiter had little sympathy for him.

"I dare say,"

said he,

"that if you had bitten the first that trod on you,

the others would have taken more trouble to look where they put their feet."


A Wolf,

who was roaming about on the plain when the sun was getting low in the sky,

was much impressed by the size of his shadow,

and said to himself,

"I had no idea I was so big.

Fancy my being afraid of a lion!



not he,

ought to be King of the beasts";


heedless of danger,

he strutted about as if there could be no doubt at all about it.

Just then a lion sprang upon him and began to devour him.


he cried,

"had I not lost sight of the facts,

I shouldn't have been ruined by my fancies."


A Ploughman loosed his oxen from the plough,

and led them away to the water to drink.

While he was absent a half-starved Wolf appeared on the scene,

and went up to the plough and began chewing the leather straps attached to the yoke.

As he gnawed away desperately in the hope of satisfying his craving for food,

he somehow got entangled in the harness,


taking fright,

struggled to get free,

tugging at the traces as if he would drag the plough along with him.

Just then the Ploughman came back,

and seeing what was happening,

he cried,


you old rascal,

I wish you would give up thieving for good and take to honest work instead."


A Man once saw a ship go down with all its crew,

and commented severely on the injustice of the gods.

"They care nothing for a man's character,"

said he,

"but let the good and the bad go to their deaths together."

There was an ant-heap close by where he was standing,


just as he spoke,

he was bitten in the foot by an Ant.

Turning in a temper to the ant-heap he stamped upon it and crushed hundreds of unoffending ants.

Suddenly Mercury appeared,

and belaboured him with his staff,

saying as he did so,

"You villain,

where's your nice sense of justice now?"


A Lion watched a fat Bull feeding in a meadow,

and his mouth watered when he thought of the royal feast he would make,

but he did not dare to attack him,

for he was afraid of his sharp horns.



presently compelled him to do something: and as the use of force did not promise success,

he determined to resort to artifice.

Going up to the Bull in friendly fashion,

he said to him,

"I cannot help saying how much I admire your magnificent figure.

What a fine head!

What powerful shoulders and thighs!


my dear friend,

what in the world makes you wear those ugly horns?

You must find them as awkward as they are unsightly.

Believe me,

you would do much better without them."

The Bull was foolish enough to be persuaded by this flattery to have his horns cut off;


having now lost his only means of defence,

fell an easy prey to the Lion.


A Man once bought a Parrot and gave it the run of his house.

It revelled in its liberty,

and presently flew up on to the mantelpiece and screamed away to its heart's content.

The noise disturbed the Cat,

who was asleep on the hearthrug.

Looking up at the intruder,

she said,

"Who may you be,

and where have you come from?"

The Parrot replied,

"Your master has just bought me and brought me home with him."

"You impudent bird,"

said the Cat,

"how dare you,

a newcomer,

make a noise like that?


I was born here,

and have lived here all my life,

and yet,

if I venture to mew,

they throw things at me and chase me all over the place."

"Look here,


said the Parrot,

"you just hold your tongue.

My voice they delight in;

but yours --yours is a perfect nuisance."


A Stag was chased by the hounds,

and took refuge in a cave,

where he hoped to be safe from his pursuers.

Unfortunately the cave contained a Lion,

to whom he fell an easy prey.

"Unhappy that I am,"

he cried,

"I am saved from the power of the dogs only to fall into the clutches of a Lion."

Out of the frying-pan into the fire.


A certain man fell ill,


being in a very bad way,

he made a vow that he would sacrifice a hundred oxen to the gods if they would grant him a return to health.

Wishing to see how he would keep his vow,

they caused him to recover in a short time.


he hadn't an ox in the world,

so he made a hundred little oxen out of tallow and offered them up on an altar,

at the same time saying,

"Ye gods,

I call you to witness that I have discharged my vow."

The gods determined to be even with him,

so they sent him a dream,

in which he was bidden to go to the sea-shore and fetch a hundred crowns which he was to find there.

Hastening in great excitement to the shore,

he fell in with a band of robbers,

who seized him and carried him off to sell as a slave: and when they sold him a hundred crowns was the sum he fetched.

Do not promise more than you can perform.


Once upon a time a number of Dogs,

who were famished with hunger,

saw some Hides steeping in a river,

but couldn't get at them because the water was too deep.

So they put their heads together,

and decided to drink away at the river till it was shallow enough for them to reach the Hides.

But long before that happened they burst themselves with drinking.




A Lion,

a Fox,

and an Ass went out hunting together.

They had soon taken a large booty,

which the Lion requested the Ass to divide between them.

The Ass divided it all into three equal parts,

and modestly begged the others to take their choice;

at which the Lion,

bursting with fury,

sprang upon the Ass and tore him to pieces.


glaring at the Fox,

he bade him make a fresh division.

The Fox gathered almost the whole in one great heap for the Lion's share,

leaving only the smallest possible morsel for himself.

"My dear friend,"

said the Lion,

"how did you get the knack of it so well?"

The Fox replied,



I took a lesson from the Ass."

Happy is he who learns from the misfortunes of others.




One day,

as a Fowler was sitting down to a scanty supper of herbs and bread,

a friend dropped in unexpectedly.

The larder was empty;

so he went out and caught a tame Partridge,

which he kept as a decoy,

and was about to wring her neck when she cried,

"Surely you won't kill me?


what will you do without me next time you go fowling?

How will you get the birds to come to your nets?"

He let her go at this,

and went to his hen-house,

where he had a plump young Cock.

When the Cock saw what he was after,

he too pleaded for his life,

and said,

"If you kill me,

how will you know the time of night?

and who will wake you up in the morning when it is time to get to work?"

The Fowler,



"You are useful for telling the time,

I know;


for all that,

I can't send my friend supperless to bed."

And therewith he caught him and wrung his neck.


A Gnat once went up to a Lion and said,

"I am not in the least afraid of you: I don't even allow that you are a match for me in strength.

What does your strength amount to after all?

That you can scratch with your claws and bite with your teeth --just like a woman in a temper --and nothing more.

But I'm stronger than you: if you don't believe it,

let us fight and see."

So saying,

the Gnat sounded his horn,

and darted in and bit the Lion on the nose.

When the Lion felt the sting,

in his haste to crush him he scratched his nose badly,

and made it bleed,

but failed altogether to hurt the Gnat,

which buzzed off in triumph,

elated by its victory.



it got entangled in a spider's web,

and was caught and eaten by the spider,

thus falling a prey to an insignificant insect after having triumphed over the King of the Beasts.


A Farmer was snowed up in his farmstead by a severe storm,

and was unable to go out and procure provisions for himself and his family.

So he first killed his sheep and used them for food;


as the storm still continued,

he killed his goats;


last of all,

as the weather showed no signs of improving,

he was compelled to kill his oxen and eat them.

When his Dogs saw the various animals being killed and eaten in turn,

they said to one another,

"We had better get out of this or we shall be the next to go!"


An Eagle and a Fox became great friends and determined to live near one another: they thought that the more they saw of each other the better friends they would be.

So the Eagle built a nest at the top of a high tree,

while the Fox settled in a thicket at the foot of it and produced a litter of cubs.

One day the Fox went out foraging for food,

and the Eagle,

who also wanted food for her young,

flew down into the thicket,

caught up the Fox's cubs,

and carried them up into the tree for a meal for herself and her family.

When the Fox came back,

and found out what had happened,

she was not so much sorry for the loss of her cubs as furious because she couldn't get at the Eagle and pay her out for her treachery.

So she sat down not far off and cursed her.

But it wasn't long before she had her revenge.

Some villagers happened to be sacrificing a goat on a neighbouring altar,

and the Eagle flew down and carried off a piece of burning flesh to her nest.

There was a strong wind blowing,

and the nest caught fire,

with the result that her fledglings fell half-roasted to the ground.

Then the Fox ran to the spot and devoured them in full sight of the Eagle.

False faith may escape human punishment,

but cannot escape the divine.


Two Men were buying meat at a Butcher's stall in the market-place,


while the Butcher's back was turned for a moment,

one of them snatched up a joint and hastily thrust it under the other's cloak,

where it could not be seen.

When the Butcher turned round,

he missed the meat at once,

and charged them with having stolen it: but the one who had taken it said he hadn't got it,

and the one who had got it said he hadn't taken it.

The Butcher felt sure they were deceiving him,

but he only said,

"You may cheat me with your lying,

but you can't cheat the gods,

and they won't let you off so lightly."

Prevarication often amounts to perjury.


Hercules was once travelling along a narrow road when he saw lying on the ground in front of him what appeared to be an apple,

and as he passed he stamped upon it with his heel.

To his astonishment,

instead of being crushed it doubled in size;


on his attacking it again and smiting it with his club,

it swelled up to an enormous size and blocked up the whole road.

Upon this he dropped his club,

and stood looking at it in amazement.

Just then Minerva appeared,

and said to him,

"Leave it alone,

my friend;

that which you see before you is the apple of discord: if you do not meddle with it,

it remains small as it was at first,

but if you resort to violence it swells into the thing you see."


A Lion had a Fox to attend on him,

and whenever they went hunting the Fox found the prey and the Lion fell upon it and killed it,

and then they divided it between them in certain proportions.

But the Lion always got a very large share,

and the Fox a very small one,

which didn't please the latter at all;

so he determined to set up on his own account.

He began by trying to steal a lamb from a flock of sheep: but the shepherd saw him and set his dogs on him.

The hunter was now the hunted,

and was very soon caught and despatched by the dogs.

Better servitude with safety than freedom with danger.


A certain man fell sick and took to his bed.

He consulted a number of doctors from time to time,

and they all,

with one exception,

told him that his life was in no immediate danger,

but that his illness would probably last a considerable time.

The one who took a different view of his case,

who was also the last to be consulted,

bade him prepare for the worst:

"You have not twenty-four hours to live,"

said he,

"and I fear I can do nothing."

As it turned out,


he was quite wrong;

for at the end of a few days the sick man quitted his bed and took a walk abroad,


it is true,

as pale as a ghost.

In the course of his walk he met the Doctor who had prophesied his death.

"Dear me,"

said the latter,

"how do you do?

You are fresh from the other world,

no doubt.


how are our departed friends getting on there?"

"Most comfortably,"

replied the other,

"for they have drunk the water of oblivion,

and have forgotten all the troubles of life.

By the way,

just before I left,

the authorities were making arrangements to prosecute all the doctors,

because they won't let sick men die in the course of nature,

but use their arts to keep them alive.

They were going to charge you along with the rest,

till I assured them that you were no doctor,

but a mere impostor."




A Lion,

infirm with age,

lay sick in his den,

and all the beasts of the forest came to inquire after his health with the exception of the Fox.

The Wolf thought this was a good opportunity for paying off old scores against the Fox,

so he called the attention of the Lion to his absence,

and said,

"You see,


that we have all come to see how you are except the Fox,

who hasn't come near you,

and doesn't care whether you are well or ill."

Just then the Fox came in and heard the last words of the Wolf.

The Lion roared at him in deep displeasure,

but he begged to be allowed to explain his absence,

and said,

"Not one of them cares for you so much as I,


for all the time I have been going round to the doctors and trying to find a cure for your illness."

"And may I ask if you have found one?"

said the Lion.

"I have,


said the Fox,

"and it is this: you must flay a Wolf and wrap yourself in his skin while it is still warm."

The Lion accordingly turned to the Wolf and struck him dead with one blow of his paw,

in order to try the Fox's prescription;

but the Fox laughed and said to himself,

"That's what comes of stirring up ill-will."


When Hercules was received among the gods and was entertained at a banquet by Jupiter,

he responded courteously to the greetings of all with the exception of Plutus,

the god of wealth.

When Plutus approached him,

he cast his eyes upon the ground,

and turned away and pretended not to see him.

Jupiter was surprised at this conduct on his part,

and asked why,

after having been so cordial with all the other gods,

he had behaved like that to Plutus.


said Hercules,

"I do not like Plutus,

and I will tell you why.

When we were on earth together I always noticed that he was to be found in the company of scoundrels."


A Fox and a Leopard were disputing about their looks,

and each claimed to be the more handsome of the two.

The Leopard said,

"Look at my smart coat;

you have nothing to match that."

But the Fox replied,

"Your coat may be smart,

but my wits are smarter still."


A Fox,

in swimming across a rapid river,

was swept away by the current and carried a long way downstream in spite of his struggles,

until at last,

bruised and exhausted,

he managed to scramble on to dry ground from a backwater.

As he lay there unable to move,

a swarm of horseflies settled on him and sucked his blood undisturbed,

for he was too weak even to shake them off.

A Hedgehog saw him,

and asked if he should brush away the flies that were tormenting him;

but the Fox replied,




not on any account,

for these flies have sucked their fill and are taking very little from me now;


if you drive them off,

another swarm of hungry ones will come and suck all the blood I have left,

and leave me without a drop in my veins."


A Crow became very jealous of a Raven,

because the latter was regarded by men as a bird of omen which foretold the future,

and was accordingly held in great respect by them.

She was very anxious to get the same sort of reputation herself;


one day,

seeing some travellers approaching,

she flew on to a branch of a tree at the roadside and cawed as loud as she could.

The travellers were in some dismay at the sound,

for they feared it might be a bad omen;

till one of them,

spying the Crow,

said to his companions,

"It's all right,

my friends,

we can go on without fear,

for it's only a crow and that means nothing."

Those who pretend to be something they are not only make themselves ridiculous.


A Witch professed to be able to avert the anger of the gods by means of charms,

of which she alone possessed the secret;

and she drove a brisk trade,

and made a fat livelihood out of it.

But certain persons accused her of black magic and carried her before the judges,

and demanded that she should be put to death for dealings with the Devil.

She was found guilty and condemned to death: and one of the judges said to her as she was leaving the dock,

"You say you can avert the anger of the gods.

How comes it,


that you have failed to disarm the enmity of men?"


An Old Man cut himself a bundle of faggots in a wood and started to carry them home.

He had a long way to go,

and was tired out before he had got much more than half-way.

Casting his burden on the ground,

he called upon Death to come and release him from his life of toil.

The words were scarcely out of his mouth when,

much to his dismay,

Death stood before him and professed his readiness to serve him.

He was almost frightened out of his wits,

but he had enough presence of mind to stammer out,

"Good sir,

if you'd be so kind,

pray help me up with my burden again."


A Miser sold everything he had,

and melted down his hoard of gold into a single lump,

which he buried secretly in a field.

Every day he went to look at it,

and would sometimes spend long hours gloating over his treasure.

One of his men noticed his frequent visits to the spot,

and one day watched him and discovered his secret.

Waiting his opportunity,

he went one night and dug up the gold and stole it.

Next day the Miser visited the place as usual,


finding his treasure gone,

fell to tearing his hair and groaning over his loss.

In this condition he was seen by one of his neighbours,

who asked him what his trouble was.

The Miser told him of his misfortune;

but the other replied,

"Don't take it so much to heart,

my friend;

put a brick into the hole,

and take a look at it every day: you won't be any worse off than before,

for even when you had your gold it was of no earthly use to you."


A number of Foxes assembled on the bank of a river and wanted to drink;

but the current was so strong and the water looked so deep and dangerous that they didn't dare to do so,

but stood near the edge encouraging one another not to be afraid.

At last one of them,

to shame the rest,

and show how brave he was,


"I am not a bit frightened!


I'll step right into the water!"

He had no sooner done so than the current swept him off his feet.

When the others saw him being carried down-stream they cried,

"Don't go and leave us!

Come back and show us where we too can drink with safety."

But he replied,

"I'm afraid I can't yet: I want to go to the seaside,

and this current will take me there nicely.

When I come back I'll show you with pleasure."


There was once a Horse who used to graze in a meadow which he had all to himself.

But one day a Stag came into the meadow,

and said he had as good a right to feed there as the Horse,

and moreover chose all the best places for himself.

The Horse,

wishing to be revenged upon his unwelcome visitor,

went to a man and asked if he would help him to turn out the Stag.


said the man,

"I will by all means;

but I can only do so if you let me put a bridle in your mouth and mount on your back."

The Horse agreed to this,

and the two together very soon turned the Stag out of the pasture: but when that was done,

the Horse found to his dismay that in the man he had got a master for good.


In making his way through a hedge a Fox missed his footing and caught at a Bramble to save himself from falling.


he got badly scratched,

and in disgust he cried to the Bramble,

"It was your help I wanted,

and see how you have treated me!

I'd sooner have fallen outright."

The Bramble,

interrupting him,


"You must have lost your wits,

my friend,

to catch at me,

who am myself always catching at others."


A Snake,

in crossing a river,

was carried away by the current,

but managed to wriggle on to a bundle of thorns which was floating by,

and was thus carried at a great rate down-stream.

A Fox caught sight of it from the bank as it went whirling along,

and called out,


the passenger fits the ship!"




A Lion lay sick in his den,

unable to provide himself with food.

So he said to his friend the Fox,

who came to ask how he did,

"My good friend,

I wish you would go to yonder wood and beguile the big Stag,

who lives there,

to come to my den: I have a fancy to make my dinner off a stag's heart and brains."

The Fox went to the wood and found the Stag and said to him,

"My dear sir,

you're in luck.

You know the Lion,

our King: well,

he's at the point of death,

and has appointed you his successor to rule over the beasts.

I hope you won't forget that I was the first to bring you the good news.

And now I must be going back to him;


if you take my advice,

you'll come too and be with him at the last."

The Stag was highly flattered,

and followed the Fox to the Lion's den,

suspecting nothing.

No sooner had he got inside than the Lion sprang upon him,

but he misjudged his spring,

and the Stag got away with only his ears torn,

and returned as fast as he could to the shelter of the wood.

The Fox was much mortified,

and the Lion,


was dreadfully disappointed,

for he was getting very hungry in spite of his illness.

So he begged the Fox to have another try at coaxing the Stag to his den.

"It'll be almost impossible this time,"

said the Fox,

"but I'll try";

and off he went to the wood a second time,

and found the Stag resting and trying to recover from his fright.

As soon as he saw the Fox he cried,

"You scoundrel,

what do you mean by trying to lure me to my death like that?

Take yourself off,

or I'll do you to death with my horns."

But the Fox was entirely shameless.

"What a coward you were,"

said he;

"surely you didn't think the Lion meant any harm?


he was only going to whisper some royal secrets into your ear when you went off like a scared rabbit.

You have rather disgusted him,

and I'm not sure he won't make the wolf King instead,

unless you come back at once and show you've got some spirit.

I promise you he won't hurt you,

and I will be your faithful servant."

The Stag was foolish enough to be persuaded to return,

and this time the Lion made no mistake,

but overpowered him,

and feasted right royally upon his carcase.

The Fox,


watched his chance and,

when the Lion wasn't looking,

filched away the brains to reward him for his trouble.

Presently the Lion began searching for them,

of course without success: and the Fox,

who was watching him,


"I don't think it's much use your looking for the brains: a creature who twice walked into a Lion's den can't have got any."


A Man was engaged in digging over his vineyard,

and one day on coming to work he missed his Spade.

Thinking it may have been stolen by one of his labourers,

he questioned them closely,

but they one and all denied any knowledge of it.

He was not convinced by their denials,

and insisted that they should all go to the town and take oath in a temple that they were not guilty of the theft.

This was because he had no great opinion of the simple country deities,

but thought that the thief would not pass undetected by the shrewder gods of the town.

When they got inside the gates the first thing they heard was the town crier proclaiming a reward for information about a thief who had stolen something from the city temple.


said the Man to himself,

"it strikes me I had better go back home again.

If these town gods can't detect the thieves who steal from their own temples,

it's scarcely likely they can tell me who stole my Spade."


A Fowler caught a Partridge in his nets,

and was just about to wring its neck when it made a piteous appeal to him to spare its life and said,

"Do not kill me,

but let me live and I will repay you for your kindness by decoying other partridges into your nets."


said the Fowler,

"I will not spare you.

I was going to kill you anyhow,

and after that treacherous speech you thoroughly deserve your fate."


A Slave,

being discontented with his lot,

ran away from his master.

He was soon missed by the latter,

who lost no time in mounting his horse and setting out in pursuit of the fugitive.

He presently came up with him,

and the Slave,

in the hope of avoiding capture,

slipped into a treadmill and hid himself there.


said his master,

"that's the very place for you,

my man!"


A Hunter was searching in the forest for the tracks of a lion,


catching sight presently of a Woodman engaged in felling a tree,

he went up to him and asked him if he had noticed a lion's footprints anywhere about,

or if he knew where his den was.

The Woodman answered,

"If you will come with me,

I will show you the lion himself."

The Hunter turned pale with fear,

and his teeth chattered as he replied,


I'm not looking for the lion,


but only for his tracks."


An Eagle swooped down upon a Serpent and seized it in his talons with the intention of carrying it off and devouring it.

But the Serpent was too quick for him and had its coils round him in a moment;

and then there ensued a life-and-death struggle between the two.

A countryman,

who was a witness of the encounter,

came to the assistance of the Eagle,

and succeeded in freeing him from the Serpent and enabling him to escape.

In revenge the Serpent spat some of his poison into the man's drinking-horn.

Heated with his exertions,

the man was about to slake his thirst with a draught from the horn,

when the Eagle knocked it out of his hand,

and spilled its contents upon the ground.

One good turn deserves another.


A Rogue laid a wager that he would prove the Oracle at Delphi to be untrustworthy by procuring from it a false reply to an inquiry by himself.

So he went to the temple on the appointed day with a small bird in his hand,

which he concealed under the folds of his cloak,

and asked whether what he held in his hand were alive or dead.

If the Oracle said "dead,"

he meant to produce the bird alive: if the reply was "alive,"

he intended to wring its neck and show it to be dead.

But the Oracle was one too many for him,

for the answer he got was this:


whether the thing that you hold in your hand be alive or dead is a matter that depends entirely on your own will."


A Horse,

proud of his fine harness,

met an Ass on the high-road.

As the Ass with his heavy burden moved slowly out of the way to let him pass,

the Horse cried out impatiently that he could hardly resist kicking him to make him move faster.

The Ass held his peace,

but did not forget the other's insolence.

Not long afterwards the Horse became broken-winded,

and was sold by his owner to a farmer.

One day,

as he was drawing a dung-cart,

he met the Ass again,

who in turn derided him and said,


you never thought to come to this,

did you,

you who were so proud!

Where are all your gay trappings now?"


A Dog was chasing a Wolf,

and as he ran he thought what a fine fellow he was,

and what strong legs he had,

and how quickly they covered the ground.


there's this Wolf,"

he said to himself,

"what a poor creature he is: he's no match for me,

and he knows it and so he runs away."

But the Wolf looked round just then and said,

"Don't you imagine I'm running away from you,

my friend: it's your master I'm afraid of."


When Jupiter was assigning the various gods their privileges,

it so happened that Grief was not present with the rest: but when all had received their share,

he too entered and claimed his due.

Jupiter was at a loss to know what to do,

for there was nothing left for him.


at last he decided that to him should belong the tears that are shed for the dead.

Thus it is the same with Grief as it is with the other gods.

The more devoutly men render to him his due,

the more lavish is he of that which he has to bestow.

It is not well,


to mourn long for the departed;

else Grief,

whose sole pleasure is in such mourning,

will be quick to send fresh cause for tears.




The Pigeons in a certain dovecote were persecuted by a Kite,

who every now and then swooped down and carried off one of their number.

So they invited a Hawk into the dovecote to defend them against their enemy.

But they soon repented of their folly: for the Hawk killed more of them in a day than the Kite had done in a year.


A Woman,

who had lately lost her husband,

used to go every day to his grave and lament her loss.

A Farmer,

who was engaged in ploughing not far from the spot,

set eyes upon the Woman and desired to have her for his wife: so he left his plough and came and sat by her side,

and began to shed tears himself.

She asked him why he wept;

and he replied,

"I have lately lost my wife,

who was very dear to me,

and tears ease my grief."

"And I,"

said she,

"have lost my husband."

And so for a while they mourned in silence.

Then he said,

"Since you and I are in like case,

shall we not do well to marry and live together?

I shall take the place of your dead husband,

and you,

that of my dead wife."

The Woman consented to the plan,

which indeed seemed reasonable enough: and they dried their tears.


a thief had come and stolen the oxen which the Farmer had left with his plough.

On discovering the theft,

he beat his breast and loudly bewailed his loss.

When the Woman heard his cries,

she came and said,


are you weeping still?"

To which he replied,


and I mean it this time."


At the bidding of Jupiter,

Prometheus set about the creation of Man and the other animals.


seeing that Mankind,

the only rational creatures,

were far outnumbered by the irrational beasts,

bade him redress the balance by turning some of the latter into men.

Prometheus did as he was bidden,

and this is the reason why some people have the forms of men but the souls of beasts.


A Swallow was once boasting to a Crow about her birth.

"I was once a princess,"

said she,

"the daughter of a King of Athens,

but my husband used me cruelly,

and cut out my tongue for a slight fault.


to protect me from further injury,

I was turned by Juno into a bird."

"You chatter quite enough as it is,"

said the Crow.

"What you would have been like if you hadn't lost your tongue,

I can't think."


A Hunter went out after game,

and succeeded in catching a hare,

which he was carrying home with him when he met a man on horseback,

who said to him,

"You have had some sport I see,


and offered to buy it.

The Hunter readily agreed;

but the Horseman had no sooner got the hare in his hands than he set spurs to his horse and went off at full gallop.

The Hunter ran after him for some little distance;

but it soon dawned upon him that he had been tricked,

and he gave up trying to overtake the Horseman,


to save his face,

called after him as loud as he could,

"All right,


all right,

take your hare: it was meant all along as a present."


A Goatherd was tending his goats out at pasture when he saw a number of Wild Goats approach and mingle with his flock.

At the end of the day he drove them home and put them all into the pen together.

Next day the weather was so bad that he could not take them out as usual: so he kept them at home in the pen,

and fed them there.

He only gave his own goats enough food to keep them from starving,

but he gave the Wild Goats as much as they could eat and more;

for he was very anxious for them to stay,

and he thought that if he fed them well they wouldn't want to leave him.

When the weather improved,

he took them all out to pasture again;

but no sooner had they got near the hills than the Wild Goats broke away from the flock and scampered off.

The Goatherd was very much disgusted at this,

and roundly abused them for their ingratitude.


he cried,

"to run away like that after the way I've treated you!"

Hearing this,

one of them turned round and said,



you treated us all right --too well,

in fact;

it was just that that put us on our guard.

If you treat newcomers like ourselves so much better than your own flock,

it's more than likely that,

if another lot of strange goats joined yours,

-we- should then be neglected in favour of the last comers."


A Swallow,

conversing with a Nightingale,

advised her to quit the leafy coverts where she made her home,

and to come and live with men,

like herself,

and nest under the shelter of their roofs.

But the Nightingale replied,

"Time was when I too,

like yourself,

lived among men: but the memory of the cruel wrongs I then suffered makes them hateful to me,

and never again will I approach their dwellings."

The scene of past sufferings revives painful memories.


A Traveller,

exhausted with fatigue after a long journey,

sank down at the very brink of a deep well and presently fell asleep.

He was within an ace of falling in,

when Dame Fortune appeared to him and touched him on the shoulder,

cautioning him to move further away.

"Wake up,

good sir,

I pray you,"

she said;

"had you fallen into the well,

the blame would have been thrown not on your own folly but on me,