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LITERALLY TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK
REV. GEO. FYLER TOWNSEND M.A.
MitD fifty ltuftratrton bV Vgarriman Weir
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET
kINTED BY J. OGDEN AND CO.,
172, ST. JOHN STREET, B.C.
THE Tale, the Parable, and the Fable are all common
and popular modes of conveying instruction. Each is
distinguished by its own special characteristics. The
Tale consists simply in the narration of a story either
founded on facts, or created solely by the imagination,
and not necessarily associated with the teaching of any
moral lesson. The Parable is the designed use of lan-
guage purposely intended to convey a hidden and secret
meaning other than that contained in the words them-
selves; and which may or may not bear a special reference
to the hearer or reader. The Fable partly agrees with,
and partly differs from, both of these. It will contain,
like the Tale, a short but real narrative; it will seek, like
the Parable, to convey a hidden meaning, and that not
so much by the use of language, as by the skilful intro-
duction of fictitious characters; and yet, unlike to either
Tale or Parable, it will ever keep in view, as its high
prerogative, and inseparable attribute, the great purpose
of instruction, and will necessarily seek to inculcate some
moral maxim, social duty, or political truth. The true
Fable, if it rise to its high requirements, ever aims at
one great end and purpose-the representation of human
motive, and the improvement of human conduct, and yet
it so conceals its design under the disguise of fictitious
characters, by clothing with speech the animals of the
field, the birds of the air, the trees of the wood, or the
beasts of the forest, that the reader shall receive advice
without perceiving the presence of the adviser. Thus
the superiority of the counsellor, which often renders
counsel unpalatable, is kept out of view, and the lesson
comes with the greater acceptance when the reader is
led, unconsciously to himself, to have his sympathies en-
listed in behalf of what is pure, honourable, and praise-
worthy, and to have his indignation excited against what
is low, ignoble, and unworthy. The true fabulist, there-
fore, discharges a most important function. He is neither
a narrator, nor an allegorist. He is a great teacher, a
corrector of morals, a censor of vice, and a commander
of virtue. In this consists the superiority of the Fable
over the Tale or the Parable. The fabulist is to create
a laugh, but yet, under a merry guise, to convey instruc-
tion. Phaedrus, the great imitator of AEsop, plainly in-
dicates this double purpose to be the true office of the
writer of fables.
Duplex libelli dos est: quod risum movet,
Et quod prudent vitam consilio monet.
The continual observance of this twofold aim creates
the charm, and accounts for the universal favour, of the
fables of Esop. "The fable," says Professor K. O.
Mueller, originated in Greece in an intentic nal travestie
of human affairs. The 'ainos,' as its name denotes, is
an admonition, or rather a reproof, veiled, either from
fear of an excess of frankness, or from a love of fun and
jest, beneath the fiction of an occurrence happening
among beasts; and wherever we have any ancient and
authentic account of the Esopian fables, we find it to
be the same."*
The construction of a fable involves a minute atten-
tion to (i), the narration itself; (2), the deduction of the
moral; and (3), a careful maintenance of the individual
characteristics of the fictitious personages introduced into
it. The narration should relate to one simple action,
consistent with itself, and neither be overladen with a
multiplicity of details, nor distracted by a variety of
circumstances. The moral or lesson should be so plain,
and so intimately interwoven with, and so necessarily
dependent on, the narration, that every reader should be
compelled to give to it the same undeniable interpre-
tation. The introduction of the animals or fictitious
characters should be marked with an unexceptionable
care and attention to their natural attributes, and to the
qualities attributed to them by universal popular consent.
The Fox should be always cunning, the Hare tilmid, the
Lion bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse
proud, and the Ass patient. Many of these fables are
characterized by the strictest observance of these rules.
They are occupied with one short narrative, from which
"* A History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, by K. O.
Mueller. Vol. i. p. 191. London, Parker, 1858.
the moral naturally flows, and with which it is intimately
associated. "'Tis the simple manner," says Dodsley,*
"in which the morals of Esop are interwoven with his
fables that distinguishes him, and gives him the pre-
ference over all other mythologists. 'His Mountain
delivered of a Mouse' produces the moral of his fable
in ridicule of pompous pretenders; and his Crow, when
she drops her cheese, lets fall, as it were by accident,
the strongest admonition against the power of flattery.
There is no need of a separate sentence to explain it;
no possibility of impressing it deeper, by that load we
too often see of accumulated reflections."t An equal
amount of praise is due for the consistency with which
Select Fables of jEsop and other Fabulists. In three books,
unanslated by Robert Dodsley, accompanied with a selection of
notes, and an'Essay on Fable.-Birmingham, 1864. P. 60.
"+ Some of these fables had, no doubt, in the first instance, a
primary and private interpretation. On the first occasion of their
being composed they were intended to refer to some passing event,
or to some individual acts of wrong-doing. Thus, the fables of the
"Eagle and the Fox" (p. 142), of the "Fox and Monkey" (p.45),
are supposed to have been written by Archilochus, to avenge the
injuries done him by Lycambes. So also the fables of the Swollen
Fox" (p. 78), of the "Frogs asking a King" (p. 31), were spoken
by ,Esop for the immediate purpose of reconciling the inhabitants
of Samos and Athens to their respective rulers, Periander and
Pisistratus: while the fable of the "Horse and Stag" was com-
posed to caution the inhabitants of Himera against granting a body-
guard to Phalaris. In a similar manner, the fable from Phedrus,
the "Marriage of the Sun," is supposed to have reference to the
contemplated union of Livia, the daughter of Drusus, with Sejanus
the favourite, and minister of Trajan. These fables, however,
though thus originating in special events, and designed at first to
meet special circumstances, are so admirably constructed as to be
fraught with lessons of general utility, and of universal application.
the characters of the animals, fictitiously introduced, are
marked. While they are made to depict the motives
and passions of men, they retain, in an eminent degree,
their own special features of craft or counsel, of cowar-
dice or courage, of generosity or rapacity.
These terms of praise, it must be confessed, cannot
be bestowed on all the fables in this collection. Many
of them lack that unity of design, that close connexion
of the moral with the narrative, that wise choice in the
introduction of the animals, which constitute the charm
and excellency of true AEsopian fable. This inferiority
of some to others is sufficiently accounted for in the
history of the origin and descent of these fables. The
great bulk of them are not the immediate work of AEsop.
Many are obtained from ancient authors prior to the
time in which he lived. Thus, the fable of the Hawk
and the Nightingale" is related by Hesiod;* the "Eagle
wounded by an Arrow winged with its own feathers," by
AEschylus; t the Fox avenging his wrongs on the
Eagle," by Archilochus.t Many of them again are of
later origin, and are to be traced to the monks of the
middle ages : and yet this collection, though thus made
up of fables both earlier and later than the era of
Asop, rightfully bears his name, because he composed
Hesiod. Opera et Dies, verse 202.
"+ iEschylus. Fragment of the Myrmidons. iEschylus speaks of
this fable as existing before his day. bs 8' iarl idOwv Tpv
AL9VO-LcKaS Xo0yos. See Scholiast on the Aves of Aristophanes,
T Fragment, 38, ed. Gaisford. See also Mueller's History of the
literature of Ancient Greece, vol. i. pp. 190-193.
so large a number (all framed in the same mould,
and conformed to the same fashion, and stamped with
the same lineaments, image, and superscription) as to
secure to himself the right to be considered the father
of Greek fables, and the founder of this class of writing,
which has ever since borne his name, and has secured
for him, through all succeeding ages, the position of the
first of moralists.*
The fables were in the first instance only narrated by
AEsop, and for a long time were handed down by the
uncertain channel of oral tradition. Socrates is men-
tioned by Plato t as having employed his time while in
prison, awaiting the return of the sacred ship from
Delphos which was to be the signal of his death, in
turning some of these fables into verse, but he thus
versified only such as he remembered. Demetrius
Phalereus, a philosopher at Athens about 300 B.c., is
said to have made the first collection of these fables.
Phaedrus, a slave by birth or by subsequent misfortunes,
and admitted by Augustus to the honours of a freed-
man, imitated many of these fables in Latin iambics
M. Bayle has well put this in his account of .Esop. Il n'y a
point d'apparence que les fables qui portent aujourd'hui son nom
soient les memes qu'il avait faites; elles viennent bien de lui pour
la plupart, quant la matiere et la pense ; mais les paroles sont
d'un autre." And again, "C'est done B Hesiode, que j'aimerais
mieux attribuer la gloire de l'invention; mais sans doute il laissa la
chose tres imparfaite. Esope la perfectionne si heureusement,
qu'on l'a regarded comme le vrai pere de cette sorte de production,"
-Bayle, Dictionnaire Historique.
t Plato in Phaedone.
about the commencement of the Christian era. Aph-
thonius, a rhetorician of Antioch, A.C. 315, wrote a
treatise on, and converted into Latin prose, some of
these fables. This translation is the more worthy of
notice, as it illustrates a custom of common use, both
in these and in later times. The rhetoricians and philo-
sophers were accustomed to give the Fables of jEsop as
an exercise to their scholars, not only inviting them to
discuss the moral of the tale, but also to practise and
to perfect themselves thereby in style and rules of
grammar, by making for themselves new and various
versions of the fables. Ausonius, the friend of the
Emperor Valentinian, and the latest poet of eminence
in the Western Empire, has handed down some of these
fables in verse, which Julianus Titianus, a contemporary
writer of no great name, translated into prose. Avienus,
also a contemporary of Ausonius, put some of these
fables into Latin elegiacs, which are given by Nevelet
(in a book we shall refer to hereafter), and are occa-
sionally incorporated with the editions of Phadrus.
Seven centuries elapsed before the next notice is found
of the Fables of Esop. During this long period these
"* Apologos en! misit tibi
Ab usque Rheni limited
Ausonius nomen Italum
Preceptor Augusti tui
Quam vertit exili stylo
Pedestre concinnans opus
Fandi Titianus artifex.
Ausonii Epistola, xvi. 75-o.
fables seem to have suffered an eclipse, to have dis-
appeared, and to have been forgotten; and it is at the
commencement of the fourteenth century, when the
Byzantine emperors were the great patrons of learning,
and amidst the splendours of an Asiatic court, that we
next find honours paid to the name and memory of
AEsop. Maximus Planudes, a learned monk of Constan-
tinople, made a collection of about a hundred and fifty
of these fables. Little is known of his history. Planudes,
however, was no mere recluse, shut up in his monastery.
He took an active part in public affairs. In 1327 A.D.
he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Venice by the
Emperor Andronicus the Elder. This brought him into
immediate contact with the Western Patriarch, whose
interests he henceforth advocated with so much zeal as
to bring on him suspicion and persecution from the
rulers of the Eastern Church. Planudes has been ex-
posed to a two-fold accusation. He is charged on the
one hand with having had before him a copy of Babrias
(to whom we shall have occasion to refer at greater
length in the end of this Preface), and to have had the
bad taste to transpose," or to turn his poetical version
into prose: and he is asserted, on the other hand, never
to have seen the Fables of 'Esop at all, but to have him-
self invented and made the fables which he palmed off
under the name of the famous Greek fabulist. The truth
lies between these two extremes. Planudes may have
invented some few fables, or have inserted some that
were current in his day; but there is an abundance of
unanswerable internal evidence to prove that he had an
acquaintance with the veritable fables of AEsop, although
the versions he had access to were probably corrupt, as
contained in the various translations and disquisitional
exercises of the rhetoricians and philosophers. His col-
lection is interesting and important, not only as the
parent source or foundation of the earlier printed ver-
sions of 'Esop, but as the direct channel of attracting to
these fables the attention of the learned.
The eventual re-introduction, however, of these Fables
of MEsop to their high place in the general literature of
Christendom, is to be looked for in the West rather than
in the East. The calamities gradually thickening round
the Eastern Empire, and the fall of Constantinople,
1453 A.D., combined with other events to promote the
rapid restoration of learning in Italy; and with that
recovery of learning the revival of an interest in the
Fables of ZEsop is closely identified. These fables,
indeed, were among the first writings of an earlier anti-
quity that attracted attention. They took their place
beside the Holy Scriptures and the ancient classic
authors, in the minds of the great students of that day.
Lorenzo Valla, one of the most famous promoters of
Italian learning, not only translated into Latin the Iliad
of Homer and the Histories of Herodotus and Thucy-
dides, but also the Fables of ,Esop.
These fables, again, were among the books brought
into an extended circulation by the agency of the
printing press. Bonus Accursius, as early as 1475-1480,
printed the collection of these fables, made by Planudes,
which, within five years afterwards, Caxton translated
into English, and printed at his press in Westminster
Abbey, 1485.* It must be mentioned also that the
learning of this age has left permanent traces of its
influence on these fables,t by causing the interpolation
with them (as a jrsia EZc IL) of some of those amusing
stories which were so frequently introduced into the
public discourses of the great preachers of those days,
and of which specimens are yet to be found in the
extant sermons of Jean Raulin, Meffreth, and Gabriel
Barlette.+ The publication of this era which most pro-
"* Both these publications are in the British Museum, and are
placed in the library in cases under glass, for the inspection of the
+ Fables may possibly have been not entirely unknown to the
medieval scholars. There are two celebrated works which might
by some be classed amongst works of this description. The one is
the "Speculum Sapientie," attributed to St. Cyril, Archbishop of
Jerusalem, but of a considerably later origin, and existing only in
Latin. It is divided into four books, and consists of long conversa-
tions conducted by fictitious characters under the figures of the
beasts of the field and forest, and aimed at the rebuke of particular
classes of men, the boastful, the proud, the luxurious, the wrathful,
&c. None of the stories are precisely those of NEsop, and none
have the concinnity, terseness, and unmistakable deduction of the
lesson intended to be taught by the fable, so conspicuous in the great
Greek fabulist. The exact title of the book is this: "Speculum
Sapientize, B. Cyrilli Episcopi: alias quadripartitus apologeticus
vocatus, in cujus quidem proverbiis omnis et totius sapientie specu-
lum claret et feliciter incipit." The other is a larger work in two
volumes, published in the fourteenth century by Caesar Heisterbach,
a Cistercian monk, under the title of Dialogus Miraculorum,"
reprinted in 1851. This work consists of conversations in which
many stories are interwoven on all kinds of subjects. It has no
correspondence with the pure AEsopian fable.
1 Post-mediaval Preachers, by S. Baring-Gould. Rivingtons,
bably has influenced these fables, is the "Liber Face-
tiarum,"* a book consisting of a hundred jests and
stories, by the celebrated Poggio Bracciolini, pub-
lished A.D. 1471 ,from which the two fables of the
" Miller, his Son, and their Ass," p. 79, and the
" Fox and the Woodcutter," p. 7I, are undoubtedly
The knowledge of these fables rapidly spread from
Italy into Germany, and their popularity was increased
by the favour and sanction given to them by the great
fathers of the Reformation, who frequently used them
as vehicles for satire and protest against the tricks and
abuses of the Romish ecclesiastics. The zealous and
renowned Camerarius, who took an active part in the
preparation of the Confession of Augsburgh, found time,
amidst his numerous avocations, to prepare a version for
the students in the University of Tiibingen, in which he
was a professor. Martin Luther translated twenty of
these fables, and was urged by Melancthon to complete
the whole; while Gottfried Arnold, the celebrated Lu-
theran theologian and librarian to Frederick I., king of
Prussia, mentions that the great Reformer valued the
Fables of JEsop next after the Holy Scriptures. In
1546 A.D. the second printed edition of the collection of
the Fables made by Planudes, was issued from the
printing-press of Robert Stephens, in which were inserted
some additional fables from a MS. in the Bibliotheque
du Roy at Paris.
For an account of this work see the Life of Poggio Bracciolini,
by the Rev. William Shepherd. Liverpool, I8o1.
The greatest advance, however, towards a re-introduc-
tion of the Fables of Esop to a place in the literature
of the world, was made in the early part of the seven-
teenth century. In the year 16io, a learned Swiss,
Isaac Nicholas Nevelet, sent forth the third printed
edition of these fables, in a work entitled "Mythologia
AEsopica." This was a noble effort to do honour to the
great fabulist, and was the most perfect collection of
AEsopian fables ever yet published. It consisted, in
addition to the collection of fables given by Planudes
and reprinted in the various earlier editions, of one
hundred and thirty-six new fables (never before pub-
lished) from MSS. in the Library of the Vatican, of
forty fables attributed to Aphthonius, and of forty-three
from Babrias. It also contained the Latin versions
of the same fables by Phadrus, Avienus, and other
authors. This volume of Nevelet forms a complete
" Corpus Fabularum Esopicarum;" and to his labours
Esop owes his restoration to universal favour as one
of the wise moralists and great teachers of mankind
During the interval of three centuries which has elapsed
since the publication of this volume of Nevelet's, no
book, with the exception of the Holy Scriptures, has
had a wider circulation than /Esop's Fables. They
have been translated into the greater number of the
languages both of Europe and of the East, and have
been read, and will be read, for generations, alike by
Jew, Heathen, Mahommedan, and Christian. They are,
at the present time, not only engrafted into the litera.
ture of the civilized world, but are familiar as house-
hold words in the common intercourse and daily con-
versation of the inhabitants of all countries.
This collection of Nevelet's is the great culminating
point in the history of the revival of the fame and
reputation of Esopian Fables. It is remarkable, also,
as containing in its preface the germ of an idea, which
has been since proved to have been correct by a strange
chain of circumstances. Nevelet intimates an opinion
that a writer named Babrias would be found to be the
veritable author of the existing form of Esopian Fables.
This intimation has since given rise to a series of
inquiries, the knowledge of which is necessary, in the
present day, to a full understanding of the true position
of AEsop in connexion with the writings that bear his
The history of Babrias is so strange and interesting,
that it might not unfitly be enumerated among the
curiosities of literature. He is generally supposed to
have been a Greek of Asia Minor, of one of the Ionic
Colonies, but the exact period in which he lived and
wrote is yet unsettled. He is placed, by one critic,*
as far back as the institution of the Achaian League,
B.c. 250; by another as late as the Emperor Severus,
who died A.D. 235; while others make him a contem-
porary with Phaedrus in the time of Augustus. At
whatever time he wrote his version of jsop, by some
strange accident it seems to have entirely disappeared,
and to have been lost sight of. His name is mentioned
Professor Theodore Bergh. See Classical Museum, No. viii.
by Avienus; by Suidas, a celebrated critic, at the close
of the eleventh century, who gives in his lexicon several
isolated verses of his version of the fables; and by John
Tzetzes, a grammarian and poet of Constantinople,
who lived during the latter half of the twelfth century.
Nevelet, in the preface to the volume which we have
described, points out that the Fables of Planudes could
not be the work of zEsop, as they contain a reference
in two places to "Holy Monks," and gives a verse from
the Epistle of St. James as an Epimith" to one
of the fables, and suggests Babrias as their author.
Francis Vavassor,* a learned French jesuit, entered at
greater length on this subject, and produced further
proofs from internal evidence, from the use of the word
Piroeus in describing the harbour of Athens, a name
which was not given till two hundred years after .Esop,
and from the introduction of other modern words, that
many of these fables must have been at least committed
to writing posterior to the time of JEsop, and more
boldly suggests Babrias as their author or collector.t
w Vavassor's treatise; entitled "De LudicrI Dictione," was
wrIten A.D. 1658, at the request of the celebrated M. Balzac
(though published after his death), for the purpose of showing that
the burlesque style of writing adopted by Scarron and D'Assouci,
and at that time so popular in France, had no sanction from the
ancient classic writers. Francisci Vavassoris opera omnia. Am-
+ The claims of Babrias also found a warm advocate in the
learned Frenchman, M. Bayle, who, in his admirable Dictionary
(Dictionnaire Historique et Critique de Pierre Bayle. Paris, 1820),
gives additional arguments in confirmation of the opinions of his
learned predecessors, Nevelet and Vavassor.
These various references to Babrias induced Dr. Richard
Bentley, at the close of the seventeenth century, to
examine more minutely the existing versions of IEsop's
Fables, and he maintained that many of them could,
with a slight change of words, be resolved into the
Scazonic* iambics, in which Babrias is known to have
written: and, with a greater freedom than the evidence
then justified, he put forth, in behalf of Babrias, a claim
to the exclusive authorship of these fables. Such a
seemingly extravagant theory, thus roundly asserted,
excited much opposition. Dr. Bentleyt met with an
able antagonist in a member of the University of
Oxford, the Hon. Mr. Charles Boyle,- afterwards Earl
of Orrery. Their letters and disputations on this sub-
ject, enlivened on both sides with much wit and learning,
will ever bear a conspicuous place in the literary history
of the seventeenth century. The arguments of Dr.
Bentley were yet further defended a few years later by
Mr. Thomas Tyrwhitt, a well-read scholar, who gave up
high civil distinctions that he might devote himself the
more unreservedly to literary pursuits. Mr. Tyrwhitt
published, A.D. 1776, a Dissertation on Babrias, and a
Scazonic, or halting, iambics; a choliambic (a lame, halt-
ing iambic) differs from the iambic Senarius in always having a
spondee or trochee for its last foot; the fifth foot, to avoid short-
ness of metre, being generally an iambic. See Fables of Babrias,
translated by Rev. James Davies. Lockwood, i860. Preface,
"+ See Dr. Bentley's Dissertations upon the Epistles of Phalaris.
Dr. Bentley's Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris,
and Fables of XEsop examined. By the Honourable Charles
collection of his fables in choliambic metre found in
a MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Francesco de
Furia, a learned Italian, contributed further testimony
to the correctness of the supposition that Babrias had
made a veritable collection of fables by printing from a
MS. contained in the Vatican library several fables never
before published. In the year 1844, however, new and
unexpected light was thrown upon this subject. A verit-
able copy of Babrias was found in a manner as singular
as were the MSS. of Quinctilian's Institutes, and of
Cicero's Orations by Poggio in the monastery of St. Gall,
A.D. 1416. M. Menoides, at the suggestion of M. Ville-
main, Minister of Public Instruction to King Louis
Philippe, had been entrusted with a commission to
search for ancient MSS., and in carrying out his instruc-
tions he found a MS. at the convent of St. Laura, on
Mount Athos, which proved to be a copy of the long-
suspected and wished-for choliambic version of Babrias.
This MS. was found to be divided into two books, the
one containing a hundred and twenty-five, and the other
ninety-five fables. This discovery attracted very general
attention, not only as confirming, in a singular manner,
the conjectures so boldly made by a long chain of critics,
but as bringing to light valuable literary treasures tend-
ing to establish the reputation, and to confirm the
antiquity and authenticity of the great mass of AJsopian
Fable. The Fables thus recovered were soon published.
They found a most worthy editor in the late distinguished
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and a translator equally
qualified for his task, in the Reverend James Davies,
M.A., sometime a scholar of Linc6ln College, Oxford,
and himself a relation of their English editor. Thus,
after an eclipse of many centuries, Babrias shines out as
the earliest and most reliable collector of veritable
Having thus given a complete synopsis of the origin,
descent, and history of these fables, it only remains to
explain the reasons which have induced the Publishers
to prepare a new edition of JEsop, and to state the
grounds on which they hope to establish a claim for
support and public approval in their undertaking. They
boldly assert that the new light thrown upon these tables
by the discovery of the metrical version by Babrias,
renders a new translation an inevitable necessity. The
two chief existing English versions of JEsop are those by
Archdeacon Croxall, and by the late Rev. Thomas
James, canon of Peterborough. The first of these
deviates so very far from the text, that it degenerates
into a parody. The fables are so padded, diluted, and
altered, as to give very little idea to the reader either of
the terseness or the meaning of the original. The second
of these is an improvement on its predecessor, but Mr.
James, either out of compliance with the wishes of the
publishers, or in condescension to the taste prevalent
some twenty years ago, has so freely introduced as the
point of the fable conventional English sayings which
are not sanctioned by the Greek, and which in many
instances are scarcely equivalent to it, that his version
frequently approaches a paraphrase rather than a
The Publishers therefore ground their first claim for
public approval on the necessity of a new translation.
They trust further that their present work will have met
that necessity in a satisfactory manner. They have
sought to give as nearly a literal translation as possible
of the Greek text; and they hope that if the reader
should miss the smoothness and thoroughly English
tone which characterized the previous version of these
fables, he will be more than repaid by gaining a nearer
approach to the spirit, thoughts, and (in some cases) to
the epigrammatic terseness of the original. The Pub-
lishers trust to vindicate, on another ground, their claims
to a share of public patronage. They have inserted a
hundred new fables, and they have the satisfaction of
knowing that this edition, on which they have spared no
pains nor cost, will afford a larger choice, and greater
variety, to the numerous and increasing circle of the
admirers of .Esopian Fables. Whatever be the result
of their labours, they will be content to have contributed
towards promoting a wider acquaintance with fables,
the wisdom, excellency, and wonderful suitableness of
which to every condition of humanity has been attested
and confirmed by the experience of so many genera-
tions; and which in all ages, amidst the ever changing
fluctuations of human opinion, are adapted alike to
amuse the young, and to instruct the thoughtful, and are
well fitted to teach all who study them lessons useful
for their guidance in every position of political, social,
civil, or domestic life. *
The Editor must claim the privilege of adding a few
words on a matter personal to himself. He has already
within the last few months been connected with one
edition of Esop, and it may seem strange that he
should be willing to undertake the superintendence
of another. His answer is, that the two works on
which he has been engaged were totally distinct, and
entirely independent of each other. The first was a
request to furnish new morals and applications to a
definite number of fables; the other was a commis-
sion to add a large number of additional fables and
to make a wholly new translation. The necessity of
a new and improved translation the Editor then re-
cognized, and would have willingly undertaken. It
was a wish he had much at heart, and when the pro-
posal was voluntarily made to him by the present
Publishers, to undertake the task of a new translation
of an enlarged number of iEsop's Fables, he saw no
reason for refusing the offer because of his prior dis-
charge of a totally different design; and he resolved to
comply with the request submitted to him, and to do
his best towards the attainment of so desirable an
object as a purer translation and more literal rendering
of fables so justly celebrated.
The following are the sources from which the present
translation has been prepared :-
Babrii Fabulae Xsopee. George Cornewall Lewis. Oxford,
Babrii Fabule 2Esopeae. E codice manuscript partem
secundam edidit. George Cornewall Lewis. London: Parker,
Mythologica Esopica. Opera et studia Isaaci Nicholai Neve-
leti. Frankfort, x61o.
"Fabulae Esopiace, quales ante Planudem ferebantur cura et
studio Francisci de Furia. Lipsia, 181o.
Alo-reZwv MuvOv Zvvaywy/j. Ex recognition Caroli Halmii.
Phadri Fabulse Esopiae. Delphin Classics. 1822.
LIFE OF AESOP.
THE Life and History of' -Esop is involved, like that of
Homer, the most famous of Greek poets, in much
obscurity. Sardis, the capital of Lydia; Samos, a Greek
island; Mesembria, an ancient colony in Thrace; and
Cotieum, the chief city of a province of Phrygia, con-
tend for the distinction of being the birthplace of ZEsop.
Although the honour thus claimed cannot be definitely
assigned to any one of these places, yet there are a
few incidents now generally accepted by scholars as
established facts, relating to the birth, life, and death of
JEsop. He is, by an almost universal consent, allowed
to have been born about the year 620 B.c., and to have
been by birth a slave. He was owned by two masters
in succession, both inhabitants of Samos, Xanthus and
Jadmon, the latter of whom gave him his liberty as a
reward for his learning and wit. One of the privileges
of a freedman in the ancient republics of Greece, was
the permission to take an active interest in public affairs;
and Esop, like the philosophers Phedo, Menippus, and
Epictetus, in later times, raised himself from the indignity
The Life of AEsop.
of a servile condition to a position of high renown. In
his desire alike to instruct and to be instructed, he
travelled through many countries, and among others
came to Sardis, the capital of the famous king of Lydia,
the great patron, in that day, of learning and of learned
men. He met at the court of Crcesus with Solon,
Thales, and other sages, and is related so to have
pleased his royal master by the part he took in the
conversations held with these philosophers, that he
applied to him an expression which has since passed
into a proverb, plXXov 6 0pv'." "The Phrygian
has spoken better than all."
On the invitation of Crcesus he fixed his residence at
Sardis, and was employed by that monarch in various
difficult and delicate affairs of State. In his discharge
of these commissions he visited the different petty re-
publics of Greece. At one time he is found in Corinth,
and at another in Athens, endeavouring, by the narration
of some of his wise fables, to reconcile the inhabitants
of those cities to the administration of their respective
rulers, Periander and Pisistratus. One of these ambas-
sadorial missions, undertaken at the command of Crcesus,
was the occasion of his death. Having been sent to
Delphi with a large sum of gold for distribution among
the citizens, he was so provoked at their covetousness
that he refused to divide the money, and sent it back to
his master. The Delphians, enraged at this treatment,
accused him of impiety, and, in spite of his sacred
character as ambassador, executed him as a public
criminal. This cruel death of Esop was not unavenged.
The Life of ^Esop.
The citizens of Delphi were visited with a series of
calamities, until they made a public reparation of their
crime; and "the blood of Esop became a well-
known adage, bearing witness to the truth that deeds of
wrong would not pass unpunished. Neither did the
great fabulist lack posthumous honours; for a statue
was erected to his memory at Athens, the work of
Lysippus, one of the most famous of Greek sculptors.
Phaedrus thus immortalizes the event:-
.Esopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,
Servumque collocarunt seterna in basi:
Patere honors scirent ut cuncti viam;
Nec generi tribui sed virtuti gloriam.
These few facts are all that can be relied on with
any degree of certainty, in reference to the birth, life,
and death of Esop. They were first brought to light,
after a patient search and diligent perusal of ancient
authors, by a Frenchman, M. Claude Gaspard Bachet
de Mezeriac, who declined the honour of being tutor to
Louis XIII. of France from his desire to devote him-
self exclusively to literature. He published his Life of
Esop, Anno Domini 1632. The later investigations of
a host of English and German scholars have added very
little to the facts given by M. Mezeriac. The substan-
tial truth of his statements has been confirmed by later
criticism and inquiry. It remains to state that, prior to
this publication of M. Mezeriac, the life of AEsop was
from the pen of Maximus Planudes, a monk of Constan-
tinople, who was sent on an embassy to Venice by the
Byzantine Emperor Andronicus the elder, and who
xxvi The Life of .Esop.
wrote in the early part of the fourteenth century. His
life was prefixed to all the early editions of these fables,
and was republished as late as 1727 by Archdeacon
Croxall as the introduction to his edition ot 'Esop.
This life by Planudes contains, however, so small an
amount of truth, and is so full of absurd pictures of the
grotesque deformity of JEsop, of wondrous apocryphal
stories, of lying legends, and gross anachronisms, that it
is now universally condemned as false, puerile, an(
unauthentic." It is given up in the present day, by
general consent, as unworthy of the slightest credit.
M. Bayle thus characterises this Life of -Esop by Planudes,
"Tous les habiles gens conviennent que c'est un roman, et que les
absurdities grossieres qui 1'on y trouve le rendent indigne de toute
creance."-Dictionnaire Historilue. Art. Erfe.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Lion and the Mouse 9
Wolf and the Crane .
Cock and the Jewel 13
Hare and the Tortoise 5
Dog and the Shadow 17
Fawn and his Mother .19
Dog in the Manger 25
Frogs asking for a King 31
Horse and Groom .33
Mischievous Dog 37
Sick Stag 39
Vain Jackdaw 41
Ox and the Frog 43
Vine and the Goat 47
Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk 52
Stag in the Ox-stall 56
Eagle and the Arrow 59
One-eyed Doe 61
Wolf and the House-Dog 65
Old Hound 67
Fox and the Woodcutter 71
Wolf and the Lion 73
Hares and the Frogs 75
Camel and the Arab 79
Cat and the Mice 8
Lion, the Bear, and the Fox 8.. ,
Fox and the Leopard 87
xxviii List of Illustrations.
The Bull and the Goat 89
Hare and the Hound 9
Fox and the Hedgehog 97
Crow and the Pitcher 103
Hart and the Vine 1o
Kid and the Wolf. .07
Thief and the House-Dog .
Fox and the Lion 14
Wolf and the Shepherd. z15
Lark and her Young Ones : 117
Ass and the Wolf .
Fox and the Mask 121
Lion and the Three Bulls . .123
Town Mouse and the Country Mouse 125
Wolf and the Horse 129
Quack Frog 31
Ass in the Lion's Skin 137
Dove and the Crow 139
Eagle and the Jackdaw .. 141
Dogs and the Hides 145
Lion and the Fox 149
Ass and the Charger 154
OF I SO P.
THE LION AND THE MOUSE.
A LrON was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running
over his face. Rising up in anger, he caught him and
was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously
entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life,
I would be sure to repay your kindness." The Lion
laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this
that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound
o1 The Fables of Aesop.
hirii by strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, re.
cognizing his roar, came up, and gnawed the rope with
his teeth, and setting him free, exclaimed: "You ridi-
culed the idea of my ever being able tohelp you, not
expecting to receive from me any repayment of your
favotir; but now you know that it is possible for even a
Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion."
THE WOLF AND THE LAMB.
A WOLF meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold,
resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find
some plea, which should justify to the Lamb himself his
right to eat him. He thus addressed him: "Sirrah, last
year you grossly insulted me." Indeed," bleated the
Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then
born." Then said the Wolf, You feed in my pasture."
"No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet
tasted grass." Again said the Wolf, "You drink of my
well." "No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank
water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and
drink to me." On which the Wolf seized him, and ate
him up, saying, "Well! I won't remain supperless, even
though you refute every one of my imputations."
The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.
THE ASS AND THE GRASSHOPPER.
AN Ass having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was
highly enchanted; and, desiring to possess the same
charms of melody, demanded what sort of food they
lived on, to give them such beautiful voices. They
replied, "The dew." The Ass resolved that he would
only live upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.
THE WOLF AND THIE CRANE.
A WOLF, having a bone stuck in his throat, hired a
Crane, for a large sum, to put her head into his throat, and
draw out the bone. When the Crane had extracted the
bone, and demanded the promised payment, the Wolf,
grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed: "Why, you
have surely already a sufficient recompense, in having
been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the
mouth and jaws of a wolf."
In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be
thankful if you escape injury for your pains.
The Fables of Esop.
THE FA THEIR AND HIS SONS.
A FATHER had a family of sons who were perpetually
quarrelling among themselves. When he failed to heal
their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to
give them a practical illustration of the evils of dis-
union; and for this purpose he one day told them to
bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so,
he placed the faggot into the hands of each of them
in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces.
They each tried with all their strength, and were not
able to do it. He next unclosed the faggot, and took
the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them
into their hands, on which they broke them easily. He
then addressed them in these words : My sons, if you
are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you
will be as this faggot, uninjured by all the attempts of
your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves,
you will be broken as easily as these sticks."
THE BAT AND THE WEASELS.
A BAT falling upon the ground was caught by a Weasel,
of whom he earnestly besought his life. The Weasel re-
fused, saying, that he was by nature the enemy of all
birds. The Bat assured him that he was not a bird, but
a mouse, and thus saved his life. Shortly afterwards the
Bat again fell on the ground, and was caught by another
Weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him.
The Weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice.
The Bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a
bat; and thus a second time escaped.
I It is wise to turn circumstances to good account. /
THE COCK AND THE JEWEL.
A COCK, scratching for food for himself and his hens,
found a precious stone; on which he said: "If your
owner had found thee, and not I, he would have taken
thee up, and have set thee in thy first estate ; but I have
found thee for no purpose. I would rather have one
barleycorn than all the jewels in the world."
THE SWALLOW AND THE CROW.
THE Swallow and the Crow had a contention about
their plumage. The Crow put an end to the dispute by
saying : "Your feathers are all very well in the spring,
but mine protect me against the winter."
Fine weather friends are not worth much.
14 The Fables of ,Esop.
THE KINGDOM OF THE LION.
THE beasts of the field and forest had a Lion as their
king. He was neither wrathful, cruel, nor tyrannical, but
just and gentle as a king could be. He made during his
reign a royal proclamation for a general assembly of all
the birds and beasts, and drew up conditions for an uni-
versal league, in which the Wolf and the Lamb, the
Panther and the Kid, the Tiger and the Stag, the Dog and
the Hare, should live together in perfect peace and amity.
The Hare said, Oh, how I have longed to see this day,
in which the weak shall take their place with impunity by
Sthe side of the strong."
THE TRA VELLER AND HIS DOG.
A TRAVELLER, about to set out on his journey, saw his
Dog stand at the door stretching himself. He asked
him sharply: "What do you stand gaping there for?
Everything is ready but you; so come with me instantly."
The Dog, wagging his tail, replied: O, master I am
quite ready; it is you for whom I am waiting."
The loiterer often imputes delay to his more active
THE ANTS AND THE GRASSHOPPER.
THE Ants were employing a fine-winter's day in drying
grain collected in the summer time. A Grasshopper,
perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged
for a little food. The Ants enquired of him, Why did
you not treasure up food during the summer? He re-
plied, I had not leisure enough. 1 passed the days in
singing." They then said in derision: "If you were
foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance
supperless to bed in the winter,"
S-.- t -_ _-.,_.,-- _
"* \ \ >i
THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE.
A HARE one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace
of the Tortoise. The latter, laughing, said: "Though
you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race."
The Hare, deeming her assertion to be simply impossible,
assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox
should choose the course, and fix the goal. On the day
appointed for the race they started together. The
Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with
a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course.
The Hare, trusting to his native swiftness, cared little
about the race, and lying down by the wayside, fell fast
asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he
could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was
comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
16 The Fables of Asop.
THE CHARCOAL-BURNER AND THE FULLER.
A CHARCOAL-BURNER carried on his trade in his own
house. One day he met a friend, a Fuller, and entreated
him to come and live with him, saying, that they should
be far better neighbours, and that their housekeeping ex-
penses would be lessened. The Fuller replied, "The
arrangement is impossible as far as I am concerned, for
whatever I should whiten, you would immediately blacken
again with your charcoal."
Like will draw like.
THE BOY HUNTING LOCUSTS.
A BOY was hunting for locusts. He had caught a goodly
number, when he saw a Scorpion, and, mistaking him for
a locust, reached out his hand to take him. The Scorpion,
showing his sting, said: "If you had but touched me,
my friend, you would have lost me, and all your locusts
THE FISHERMAN PIPING.
A FISHERMAN skilled in music took his flute and his
nets to the sea-shore. Standing on a projecting rock he
played several tunes, in the hope that the fish, attracted
by his melody, would of their own accord dance into his
net, which he had placed below. At last, having long
waited in vain, he laid aside his flute, and casting his net
into the sea, made an excellent haul of fish. When he
saw them leaping about in the net upon the rock he
said: "0 you most perverse creatures, when I piped
you would not dance, but now that I have ceased you do
THE DOG AND THE SHADOW.
A DOG, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of
flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water, and
took it for that of another Dog, with a piece of meat
double his own in size. He therefore let go his own,
and fiercely attacked the other Dog, to get his larger
piece from him. He thus lost both: that which he
grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and
his own, because the stream swept it away.
HERCULES AND THE WAGGONER.
A CARTER was driving a waggon along a country lane,
when the wheels sank down deep into a rut. The rustic
driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagg6n,
18 The Fables of Esop.
and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come
and help him. Hercules, it is said, appeared, and thus
addressed him:-" Put your shoulders to the wheels, my
man. Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to
me for help, until you have done your best to help your-
self, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain."
"--Self-help is the best help.
THE MOLE AND HIS MOTHER.
A MOLE, a creature blind from its birth, once said to his
mother: "I am sure that I can see, mother !" In the
desire to prove to him his mistake, his mother placed
before him a few grains of frankincense, and asked,
"What is it ? The young Mole said, It is a pebble."
His mother exclaimed: My son, I am afraid that you
are not only blind, but that you have lost your sense of
THE HERDSMAN AND THE LOST BULL.
A HERDSMAN tending kine in a forest, lost a Bull calf
from the fold. After a long and fruitless search, he made
a vow that, if he could only discover the thief who had
stolen the Calf, he would offer a lamb in sacrifice to
Hermes, Pan, and the Guardian Deities of the forest.
Not long afterwards, as he ascended a small hillock, he
saw at its foot a Lion feeding on the Calf. Terrified at
the sight, he lifted his eyes and his hands to heaven, and
said : "Just now I vowed to offer a lamb to the Guardian
Deities of the forest if I could only find out who had
robbed me; but now that I have discovered the thief, I
would willingly add a full-grown Bull to the Calf I have
lost, if I may only secure my own escape from him in
THE FAWN AND HIS MOTHER.
A YOUNG Fawn once said to his mother, You are larger
than a dog, and swifter, and more used to running, and
you have, too, your horns as a defence; why, then, 0
Mother! are you always in such a terrible fright of the
hounds ?" She smiled, and said: I know full well, my
son, that all you say is true. I have the advantages you
mention, but yet when I hear only the bark of a single
dog I feel ready to faint, and fly away as fast as I can."
No arguments will give courage to the coward.
THE ASS, THE FOX, AND THE LION.
THE Ass and the Fox having entered into partnership
together for their mutual protection, went out into the
20 The Fables of Asop.
forest to hunt. They had not proceeded far, when they
met a Lion. The Fox, seeing the imminency of the
danger, approached the Lion, and promised to contrive
for him the capture of the Ass, if he would pledge his
word that his own life should not be endangered. On
his assuring him that he would not injure him, the Fox
led the Ass to a deep pit, and contrived that he should
fall into it. The Lion seeing that the Ass was secured,
immediately clutched the Fox, and then attacked the Ass
at his leisure.
THE FLIES AND THE HONEY POT.
A JAR of Honey having been upset in a housekeeper's
room, a number of flies were attracted by its sweetness,
and placing their feet in it, ate it greedily. Their feet,
however, became so smeared with the honey that they
could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and
were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they ex-
claimed, "0 foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of
a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves."
Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.
A CONTROVERSY prevailed among the beasts of the field,
as to which of the animals deserved the most credit for
producing the greatest number of whelps at a birth.
They rushed clamorously into the presence of the Lioness,
and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute.
" And you," they said, how many sons have you at a
birth?" The Lioness laughed at them, and said:
"Why I have only one; but that one is altogether a
The value is in the worth, not in the number.
The Fables of Asop. 21
THE FARMER AND THE SNAKE.
A FARMER found in the winter time a Snake stiff and
frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking
it up placed it in his bosom. The Snake on being
thawed by the warmth quickly revived, when, resuming
its natural instincts, he bit his benefactor, inflicting on '
him a mortal wound. The Farmer said with his latest
breath, I am rightly served for pitying-a scoundrel 1"
The greatest benefits will not bind the ungrateful.
THE MAN AND THE LION.
A MAN and a lion travelled together through the forest.
They soon began to boast of their respective superiority
to each other in strength and prowess. As they were dis-
puting, they passed a statue, carved in stone, which re-
presented "a Lion strangled by a Man." The traveller
pointed to it and said: See there! How strong we are,
and how we prevail over even the king of beasts." The
Lion replied: That statue was made by one of you men.
If we Lions knew how to erect statues, you would see the
Man placed under the paw of the Lion."
One story is good, till another is told. --
THE POMEGRANATE, APPLE TREE,
THE Pomegranate and Apple-tree disputed as to which
was the most beautiful. When their strife was at its
height, a Bramble from the neighboring hedge lifted up
its voice, and said in a boastful tone: Pray, my dear
friends, in my presence at least cease from such vain
The Fables of zEsop.
THE PARMIER AND THE STORI.
A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plough lands,
and caught a quantity of Cranes, which came to pick up
his seed. With them he trapped a Stork also. The
Stork having his leg fractured by the net, earnestly be-
sought the Farmer to spare his life. "Pray, save me,
Master," he said, "and let me go free this once. My
broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no
Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and
see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look
too, at my feathers, they are not the least like to those of
a Crane." The Farmer laughed aloud, and said, It may
be all as you say; I only know this, I have taken you
with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their
\ Birds of a feather flock together.
TIE MOUNTAIN IN LABOUR.
A MOUNTAIN was once greatly agitated. Loud groans
and noises were heard; and crowds of people came from
all parts to see what was the matter. While they were
assembled in anxious expectation of some terrible cala-
mity, out came a Mouse.
Don't make much ado about nothing.
THE BEAR AND THE FOX.
A BEAR boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying
" that of all animals he was the most tender in his regard
for man, for he had such respect for him, that he would
not even touch his dead body." A Fox hearing these
words said with a smile to the Bear, "Oh that you would
eat the dead and not the living."
The Fables of ^Esop.
THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE.
A TORTOISE, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the
sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her
to fly. An Eagle hovering near, heard her lamentation,
and demanded what reward she would give him, if he
would take her aloft, and float her in the air. "I will
give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." I
will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking
her up in his talons, he carried her almost to the clouds,
-when suddenly letting her go, she fell on a lofty
mountain, and dashed her shell to pieces. The Tortoise
exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved
my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and
clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the
If men had all they wished, they would be often
THE FOX AND THE GOAT.
A Fox having fallen into a deep well, was detained a
prisoner there, as he could find no means of escape. A
Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and,
seeing the Fox, enquired if the water was good. The
Fox, concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, in-
dulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was
beyond measure excellent, and encouraged him to de-
scend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thought.
lessly jumped down, when just as he quenched his thirst,
the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in,
and suggested a scheme for their common escape. If,"
said he, "you will place your fore-feet upon the wall, and
bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and
will help you out afterwards." On the Goat readily as-
24 The Fables of Esop.
senting to this second proposal, the Fox leapt upon his
back, and steadying himself with the Goat's horns,
reached in safety the mouth of the well, when he imme-
'diately made off as fast as he could. The Goat upbraided
him with the breach of his bargain, when he turned round
and cried out: You foolish old fellow If you had as
many brains in your head as you have hairs in your
beard, you would never have gone down before you had
inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dan-
gers from which you had no means of escape."
Look before you leap.
THE RAVEN AND THE SWAN.
A RAVEN saw a Swan, and desired to secure for himself
a like beauty of plumage. Supposing that his splendid
white colour arose from his washing in the water in which
he swam, the Raven left the altars in the neighbourhood
of which he picked up his living, and took up his abode
in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as
often as he would, he could not change their colour,
while through want of food he perished.
Change of habit cannot alter Nature.
THE THIRSTY PIGEON.
A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet
of water painted on a sign-board. Not supposing it to
be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whirr,
and unwittingly dashed against the sign-board and jarred
herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow,
she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the
-\- Zeal should not outrun discretion.
THE DOG IN THE MANGER.
A DOG lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping
prevented the oxen from eating the hay which had been
placed for them. What a selfish Dog !" said one of
them to his companions; he cannot eat the hay him-
self, and yet refuses to allow those to eat who can."
THE OXEN AND THE AXLE-TREES.
A HEAVY waggon was being dragged along a country lane
by a team of oxen. The axle-trees groaned and creaked
terribly: when the oxen turning round, thus addressed
the wheels. Hullo there why do you make so much
noise? We bear all the labour, and we, not you, ought
to cry out."
Those who suffer most cry out the least.
The Fables of Esop.
THE FARMER AND THE CRANES.
SOME Cranes made their feeding grounds on some plough-
lands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the
Farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away
by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found that
the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take
any notice of it, and would not move. The Farmer on
seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a
great number. They at once forsook his plough-lands,
and cried to each other, It is time for us to be off to
Liliput: for this man is no longer content to scare us,
but begins to show us in earnest what he can do."
If words suffice not, blows must follow.
THE SICK LION.
A LION being unable from old age and infirmities to
provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by
artifice. He betook himself to his den, and lying down
there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness
should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their
sorrow, and came one by one to his den to visit him,
when the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts
had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick, and ,
presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of
the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked of him how
he did; to whom he replied, I am very middling, but
why do you stand without? pray enter within to talk
with me." The Fox replied, "No, thank you, I notice
that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but
I see no trace of any returning."
He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of
The Fables of Aisop.
THE BEAR AND THE TWO TRAVELLERS.
Two men were travelling together, when a Bear suddenly
met them on their path. One of them climbed up
quickly into a tree, and concealed himself in the branches.
The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on
the ground, and when the Bear came up and felt him
with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his
breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as
he could. The Bear soon left him, for it is said he will
not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone the
other traveller descended from the tree, and accosting
his friend, jocularly inquired "what it was the Bear had
whispered in his ear?" He replied, "He gave me this
advice : Never travel with a friend who deserts you at
the approach of danger."
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.
THE FOX WHO HAD LOST HIS TAIL.
A Fox caught in a trap, escaped with the loss of his
"brush." Henceforth feeling his life a burden from the
shame and ridicule to which he was exposed, he schemed
to bring all the other Foxes into a like condition with
himself, that in the common loss he might the better
conceal his own deprivation. He assembled a good
many Foxes, and publicly advised them to cut off their
tails, saying "that they would not only look much
better without them, but that they would get rid of the
weight of the brush, which was a very great incon-
venience." One of them interrupting him said, "If you
had not yourself lost your tail, my friend, you would not
thus counsel us."
The Fables of cEsop.
THE CAT AND THE COCK.
A CAT caught a Cock, and took counsel with himself
how he might find a reasonable excuse for eating him.
He accused him as being a nuisance to men, by crowing
in the night time, and not permitting them to sleep.
The Cock defended himself by saying, that he did this
for the benefit of men, that they might rise betimes for
their labours. The Cat replied, "Although you abound
in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless;"
and he made a meal of him.
THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING.
ONCE upon a time a Wolf resolved to disguise his nature
by his habit, that so he might get food without stint.
Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the
flock, beguiling the shepherd by his artifice. In the
evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the
gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure.
The shepherd coming into the fold during the night to
provide food for the morrow, caught up the Wolf, instead
of a sheep, and killed him with his knife in the fold.
Harm seek, harm find.
THE GOAT AND THE GOATHERD.
A GOATHERD had sought to bring back a stray goat to
his flock. He whistled and sounded his horn in vain;
the straggler paid no attention to the summons. At last
the Goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its horn be-
sought the Goat not to tell his master. The Goat replied,
" Why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak though I be
Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hidden.
The Fables of Arsop.
THE BOASTING TRAVELLER.
A MAN who had travelled in foreign lands, boasted very
much, on returning to his own country, of the many
wonderful and heroic things he had done in the different
places he had visited. Among other things, he said that
when he was at Rhodes he had leaped to such a distance
that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him-
and as to that, there were in Rhodes many persons who
saw him do it, and whom he could call as witnesses.
One of the bystanders interrupting 'him, said, "Now, my
good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses.
Suppose this to be Rhodes; and now for your leap."
THE LION IN LOVE.
A LION demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in mar-
riage. The Father, unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to
refuse his request, hit upon this expedient to rid himself
of his importunities. He expressed his willingness to
accept him as the suitor of his daughter on one condition;
that he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off
his claws, as his daughter was fearfully afraid of both.
The Lion cheerfully assented to the proposal: when how-
ever he next repeated his request, the woodman, no longer
afraid, set upon him with his club, and drove him away
into the forest.
A MISER sold all that he had, and bought a lump of
gold, which he took and buried in a hole dug in the
ground by the side of an old wall, and went daily to
look at it. One of his workmen, observing his frequent
visits to the spot, watched his movements, discovered
The Fables of Esop.
the secret of the hidden treasure, and digging down,
came to the lump of gold, and stole it. The Miser,
on his next visit, found the hole empty, and began to
tear his hair, and to make loud lamentations. A
neighbour, seeing him overcome with grief, and learning
the cause, said, "Pray do not grieve so; but go and
take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that
the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite the
same service; for when the gold was there, you had it
not, as you did not make the slightest use of it."
THE PORKER, THE SHEEP, AND THE GOAT.
A YOUNG Pig was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and
a Sheep. On one occasion the shepherd laid hold of him,
when he grunted, and squeaked, and resisted violently.
The Sheep and the Goat complained of his distressing
cries, and said, He often handles us, and we do not cry
out." To this he replied, Your handling and mine are
very different things. He catches you only for your
wool, or your milk, but he lays hold on me for my very
THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS.
A Boy put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He
grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he
endeavoured to pull out his hand, he was prevented from
doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose
his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst
into tears, and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A
bystander said to him, Be satisfied with half the quan-
tity, and you will readily draw out your hand."
Do not attempt too much at once.
THE FROGS ASKING FOR A KING.
THE Frogs, grieved at having no established Ruler, sent
ambassadors to Jupiter entreating for a King. He, per-
ceiving their simplicity, cast down a huge log into the
lake. The Frogs, terrified at the splash occasioned by
its fall, hid themselves in the depths of the pool. But
no sooner did they see that the huge log continued mo-
tionless, than they swam again to the top of the water,
dismissed their fears, and came so to despise it as to
climb up, and to squat upon it. After some time they
began to think themselves ill-treated in the appointment
of so inert a Ruler, and sent a second deputation to
Jupiter to pray that he would set over them another
sovereign. He then gave them an Eel to govern them.
When the Frogs discovered his easy good-nature, they
yet a third time sent to Jupiter to beg that he would
The Fables of Esop.
once more choose for them another King. Jupiter, dis-
pleased at their complaints, sent a Heron, who preyed
upon the Frogs day by day till there were none left to
croak upon the lake.
THE LABOURER AND THE SNAKE.
A SNAKE, having made his hole close to the porch of a
cottage, inflicted a severe bite on the Cottager's infant
son, of which he died, to the great grief of his parents.
The father resolved to kill the Snake, and the next day,
on its coming out of its hole for food, took up his axe;
but, making too much haste to hit him as he wriggled
away, missed his head, and cut off only the end of his
tail. After some time the Cottager, afraid lest the Snake
should bite him also, endeavoured to make peace, and
placed some bread and salt in his hole. The Snake,
slightly hissing, said: "There can henceforth be no
peace between us; for whenever I see you I shall re-
member the loss of my tail, and whenever you see me
you will be thinking of the death of your son."
No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him
who caused the injury.
THE LION, THE MOUSE, AND THE FOX.
A LION, fatigued by the heat of a summer's day, fell fast
asleep in his den. A Mouse ran over his mane and ears,
and woke him from his slumbers. He rose up and shook
himself in great wrath, and searched every corner of his
den to find the Mouse. A Fox seeing him, said : "A
fine Lion you are, to be frightened of a Mouse." "'Tis
not the Mouse I fear," said the Lion; "I resent his
familiarity and ill-breeding."
Little liberties are great offences.
-* ---- ;_i:s^^
THE HORSE AND GROOM.
A GROOM used to spend whole days in currycombing
and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole
his oats, and sold them for his own profit. Alas!"
said the Horse, if you really wish me to be in good
condition, you should groom me less, and feed me
Honesty is the best policy.
THE ASS AND THE MULE.
A MULETEER set forth on a journey, driving before him
an Ass and a Mule, both well laden. The Ass, as long
as he travelled along the plain, carried his load with ease;
but when he begun to ascend the steep path of the
mountain, he felt his load to be more than he could
34 The Fables of _Esop.
bear. He entreated his companion to relieve him of a
small portion, that he might carry home the rest; but
the Mule paid no attention to the request. The Ass
shortly afterwards fell down dead under his burden. The
Muleteer, not knowing what else to do in so wild a
region, placed upon the Mule the load carried by the
Ass in addition to his own, and at the top of all placed
the hide of the Ass, after he had flayed him. The Mule,
groaning beneath his heavy burden, said thus to himself,
" I am treated according to my deserts. If I had only
been willing to assist the Ass a little in his need, I should
not now be bearing, together with his burden, himself as
THE ASS AND THE LAP-DOG.
A MAN had an Ass, and a Maltese Lap-dog, a very
great beauty. The Ass was left in a stable, and had
plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass
would. The Lap-dog knew many tricks, and was a
great favourite with his master, who often fondled him;
and seldom went out to dine or to sup without bringing
him home some tid-bit to eat, when he frisked and jumped
about him in a manner pleasant to see. The Ass, on the
contrary, had much work to do, in grinding the corn-
mill, and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens
from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate,
and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the
Lap-dog, till at last one day he broke his cords and
halter, and galloped into his master's house, kicking up
his heels ivithout measure, and frisking and fawning as
well as he could. He next tried to jump about his
master as he had seen the Lap-dog do, but he broke the
table, and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He
The Fables of ./Esop.
then attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his
back. The servants hearing the strange hubbub, and
perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved
him, and drove out the Ass to his stable, with kicks,
and clubs, and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned to his
stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: "I have
brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been
contented to labour with my companions, and not wish
to be idle all the day like that useless little Lap-dog!"
THE OXEN AND THE BUTCHERS.
THE Oxen once on a time sought to destroy the
Butchers, who practised a trade destructive to their race.
They assembled on a certain day to carry out their
purpose, and sharpened their horns for the contest. One
of them, an exceedingly old one (for many a field had he
ploughed), thus spoke : "These Butchers, it is true,
slaughter us, but they do so with skilful hands, and with
no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall
into the hands of unskilful operators, and thus suffer a
double death: for you may be assured, that though all
the Butchers should perish, yet will men never want
Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another.
THE SHEPHERD'S BOY AND WOLF.
A SHEPHERD-BOY, who watched a flock of sheep near a
village, brought out the villagers three or four times by
crying out, "Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbours
came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The
Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-
boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror :
The Fables of .Esop.
"Pray, do come and help me; the wolf is killing the
sheep;" but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor
rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of
fear, took it easily, and lacerated or destroyed the whole
There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the
THE BOYS AND THE FROGS.
SOME Boys, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs
in the water, and beagn to pelt them with stones. They
killed several of them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his
head out of the water, cried out: "Pray stop, my boys:
what is sport to you, is death to us."
THE SALT MERCHANT AND HIS ASS.
A PEDLAR, dealing in salt, drove his Ass to the sea-shore
to buy salt. His road home lay across a stream, in pass-
ing which his Ass, making a false step, fell by accident
into the water, and rose up again with his load consider-
ably lighter, as the water melted the salt. The Pedlar
retraced his steps, and refilled his panniers with a larger
quantity of salt than before. When he came again to the
stream, the Ass fell down on purpose in the same spot,
and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much
diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained
what he desired. The Pedlar saw through his trick, and
drove him for the third time to the coast, where he bought
a cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Ass, again play-
ing the knave, when he reached the stream, fell down on
purpose, when the sponges becoming swollen with the
water, his load was very greatly increased; and thus his
trick recoiled on himself in fitting to his back a doubled
THE MISCHIEVOUS DOG.
A DOG used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he
met, and to bite them without notice. His master sus-
pended a bell about his neck, that he might give notice
of his presence wherever he went. The Dog grew proud
of his bell, and went tinkling it all over the market-place.
An old hound said to him: Why do you make such an
exhibition of yourself? That bell that you carry is not,
believe me, any order of merit, but, on the contrary, a
mark of disgrace, a public notice to all men to avoid you
as an ill-mannered dog."
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
THE GOATHERD AND THE WILD GOATS.
A GOATHERD, driving his flock from their pasture at
eventide, found some wild goats mingled among them,
38 The Fables of .Esop.
and shut them up together with his own for the night.
On the morrow it snowed very hard, so that he could
not take the herd to their usual feeding-places, but was
obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own
goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the
strangers more abundantly, in the hope of enticing them
to stay with him, and of making them his own. When
the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the wild
goats scampered away as fast as they could to the moun-
tains. The Goatherd taxed them with their ingratitude
in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more
care of them than of his own herd. One of them turn-
ing about said to him, "That is the very reason why
we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better
than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that
if others came after us, you would, in the same manner,
prefer them to ourselves."
Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new
THE MAN AND HIS TWO SWEETHEARTS.
A MIDDLE-AGED man, whose hair had begun to turn grey,
courted two women at the same time. One of them
was young; and the other well advanced in years. The
elder woman, ashamed to be courted by a man younger
than herself, made a point, whenever her admirer visited
her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs. The
younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the
wife of an old man, was equally zealous in removing
every grey hair she could find. Thus it came to pass,
that between them both he very soon found that he had
not a hair left on his head.
Those who seek to please everybody please nobody.
~-~- --~ -`
THE SICK STAG.
A SICK Stag lay down in a quiet corner of its pasture.
ground. His companions came in great numbers to
inquire after his health, and each one helped himself to a
share of the food which had been placed for his use; so
that he died, not from his sickness, but from the failure
of the means of living.
Evil companions bring more hurt than profit.
THE BOY AND THE NETTLES.
A Boy was stung by a Nettle. He ran home and told
his mother, saying, "Although it pains me so much, I
did but touch it ever so gently." "That was just it,"
said his mother, which caused it to sting you. The next
time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be as
soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you."
Whatever you do, do with all your might.
40 The Fables of tEsop.
AN Astronomer used to go out of a night to observe the
stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs
with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell un-
awares into a deep well. While he lamented and be-
wailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help,
a neighbour ran to the well, and learning what had
happened, said: "Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving
to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see
what is on earth ? "
THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP.
"WHY should there always be this internecine and im-
placable warfare between us ?" said the Wolves to the
Sheep. "Those evil-disposed Dogs have much to
answer for. They always bark whenever we approach
you, and attack us before we have done any harm. If
you would only dismiss them from your heels, there
might soon be treaties of peace and of reconciliation
between us." The Sheep, poor silly creatures! were
easily beguiled, and dismissed the Dogs. The Wolves
destroyed the unguarded flock at their own pleasure.
THE CA2 AND THE BIRDS.
A CAT, hearing that the Birds in a certain aviary were
ailing, dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking
with him his cane and the instruments becoming his
profession, went to the aviary, knocked at the door, and
inquired of the inmates how they all did, saying that it
they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them
and cure them. They replied, We are all very well,
and shall continue so, if you will only be good enough
to go away, and leave us as we are,"
THE VAIN JACKDAW.
JUPITER determined, it is said, to create a sovereign
over the birds; and made proclamation that, on a cer-
tain day, they should all present themselves before him,
when he would himself choose the most beautiful
among them to be king. The Jackdaw, knowing his
own ugliness, searched through the woods and fields,
and collected the feathers which had fallen from the
wings of his companions, and stuck them in all parts
of his body, hoping thereby to make himself the most
beautiful of all. When the appointed day arrived, and
the birds had assembled before Jupiter, the Jackdaw
also made his appearance in his many-feathered finery.
On Jupiter proposing to make him king, on account of
the beauty of his plumage, the birds indignantly pro-
tested, and each plucking from him his own feathers,
the Jackdaw was again nothing but a Jackdaw.
, \ /^ftc^ ,
42 The Fables of Esop.
THE KID AND THE WOLF.
A KID standing on the roof of a house, out of harm's
way, saw a Wolf passing by: and immediately began
to taunt and revile him. The Wolf, looking up, said :
"Sirrah I hear thee: yet it is not thou who mockest
me, but the roof on which thou art standing."
Time and place often give the advantage to the weak
over the strong.
THE OLD WOMiAN AND THE PHYSICIAN.
AN old woman having lost the use of her eyes, called in
a Physician to heal them, and made this bargain with him
in the presence of witnesses: that if he should cure her
blindness, he should receive from her a sum of money;
but if her infirmity remained, she should give him nothing.
This agreement being entered into, the Physician, time
after time, applied his salve to her eyes, and on every
visit taking something away, stole by little and little all
her property: and when he had got all she had, he healed
her, and demanded the promised payment. The old
woman, when she recovered her sight and saw none of
her goods in her house, would give him nothing. The
Physician insisted on his claim, and, as she still refused,
summoned her before the Archons. The old woman
standing up in the Court thus spoke :-" This man here
speaks the truth in what he says; for I did promise to
give him a sum of money, if I should recover my sight:
but if I continued blind, I was to give him nothing.
Now he declares that I am healed.' I on the contrary
affirm that I am still blind;' for when I lost the use of
my eyes, I saw in my house various chattels and valuable
goods : but now, though he swears I am cured of my
blindness, I am not able to see a single thing in it."