Fables by Aesop
The Dog and the Shadow
A Dog, with a piece of stolen meat between his teeth,
was one day crossing a river by means of a plank, when
he caught sight of another dog in the water carrying a far
larger piece of meat. He opened his jaws to snap at the
greater morsel, when the meat dropped in the stream
and was lost even in the reflection.
The Dying Lion
A Lion, brought to the extremity of weakness by old
age and disease, lay dying in the sunlight. Those whom
he had oppressed in his strength now came round about
him to revenge themselves for past injuries. The Boar
ripped the flank of the King of Beasts with his tusks.
The Bull came and gored the Lion's sides with his horns.
Finally, the Ass drew near, and after carefully seeing that
there was no danger, let fly with his heels in the Lion's
face. Then, with a dying groan, the mighty creature
exclaimed: "How much worse it is than a thousand
deaths to be spurned by so base a creature!"
The Mountain in Labour
A Mountain was heard to produce dreadful sounds,
as though it were labouring to bring forth something
enormous. The people came and stood about waiting to
see what wonderful thing would be produced from this
labour. After they had waited till they were tired, out
crept a Mouse.
Hercules and the Waggoner
A Waggoner was driving his team through a muddy
lane when the wheels stuck fast in the clay, and the
Horses could get no farther. The Man immediately
dropped on his knees, and, crying bitterly, besought Hercules
to come and help him. "Get up and stir thyself,
thou lazy fellow!" replied Hercules. "Whip thy Horses,
and put thy shoulder to the wheel. If thou art in need
of my help, when thou thyself hast laboured, then shalt
thou have it."
The Frogs that Asked for a King
The Frogs, who lived an easy, happy life in the ponds,
once prayed to Jupiter that he should give them a King.
Jupiter was amused by this prayer, and cast a log into
the water, saying: "There, then, is a King for you."
The Frogs, frightened by the great splash, regarded their
King with alarm, until at last, seeing that he did not stir,
some of them jumped upon his back and began to be
merry there, amused at such a foolish King. However,
King Log did not satisfy their ideas for very long, and
so once again they petitioned Jupiter to send them a
King, a real King who would rule over them, and not lie
helpless in the water. Then Jupiter sent the Frogs a
Stork, who caught them by their legs, tossed them in the
air, and gobbled them up whenever he was hungry. All
in a hurry the Frogs besought Jupiter to take away King
Stork and restore them to their former happy condition.
"No, no," answered Jupiter; "a King that did you no
hurt did not please you; make the best of him you now
have, lest a worse come in his place!"
The Gnat and the Lion
A lively and insolent Gnat was bold enough to attack
a Lion, which he so maddened by stinging the most sensitive
parts of his nose, eyes and ears that the beast roared
with anguish and tore himself with his claws. In vain
were the Lion's efforts to rid himself of his insignificant
tormentor; again and again the insect returned and
stung the furious King of Beasts, till at last the Lion fell
exhausted on the ground. The triumphant Gnat, sounding
his tiny trumpet, hovered over the spot exulting in
his victory. But it happened that in his circling flight
he got himself caught in the web of a Spider, which,
fine and delicate as it was, yet had power enough to hold
the tiny insect a prisoner. All the Gnat's efforts to escape
only held him the more tightly and firmly a prisoner, and
he who had conquered the Lion became in his turn the
prey of the Spider.
The Wolf and the Stork
A Wolf ate his food so greedily that a bone stuck in
his throat. This caused him such great pain that he ran
hither and thither, promising to reward handsomely
anyone who would remove the cause of his torture. A
Stork, moved with pity by the Wolf's cry of pain, and
tempted also by the reward, undertook the dangerous
operation. When he had removed the bone, the Wolf
moved away, but the Stork called out and reminded him
of the promised reward. "Reward!" exclaimed the
Wolf. "Pray, you greedy fellow, what reward can you
expect? You dared to put your head in my mouth,
and instead of biting it off, I let you take it out again
unharmed. Get away with you! And do not again place
yourself in my power."
The Frog who Wanted to Be as Big as an Ox
A vain Frog, surrounded by her children, looked up
and saw an Ox grazing near by. "I can be as big as the
Ox," she said, and began to blow herself out. "Am I as
big now?" she inquired. "Oh, no; not nearly so big!"
said the little frogs. "Now?" she asked, blowing herself
out still more. "No, not nearly so big!" answered
her children. "But now?" she inquired eagerly, and
blew herself out still more. "No, not even now," they
said; "and if you try till you burst yourself you will
never be so big." But the Frog would not listen, and
attempting to make herself bigger still, burst her skin
The Dog in the Manger
A Dog lay in a manger which was full of hay. An
Ox, being hungry, came near, and was about to eat when
the Dog started up, and, with angry snarls, would not
let the Ox approach. "Surly brute," said the Ox; "you
cannot eat the hay yourself, and you will let no one else
The Bundle of Faggots
An honest Man had the unhappiness to have a quarrelsome
family of children. One day he called them before
him, and bade them try to break a bundle of faggots.
All tried, and all failed. "Now," said he, "unbind the
bundle and take every stick by itself, and see if you
cannot break them." They did his bidding, and snapped
all the sticks one by one with the greatest possible ease.
"This, my children," said the Father at last, "is a true
emblem of your condition. Keep together and you are
safe, divide and you are undone."
The Fox Without a Tail
A Fox was once caught in a trap by his tail, and in
order to get free was obliged to leave it behind. He
knew that his fellows would make fun of his tailless
condition, so he made up his mind to induce them all to
part with their tails. At the next assemblage of Foxes he
made a speech on the uselessness of tails in general, and
the inconvenience of a Fox's tail in particular, declaring
that never in his whole life had he felt so comfortable
as now in his tailless freedom. When he sat down, a
sly old Fox rose, and, waving his brush, said, with a
sneer, that if he had lost his tail, he would be convinced
by the last speaker's arguments, but until such an accident
occurred he fully intended to vote in favour of
The Blind Man and the Paralytic
A blind man finding himself stopped in a rough and
difficult road, met with a paralytic and begged his assistance.
"How can I help you," replied the paralytic,
"when I can scarcely move myself along?" But, regarding
the blind man, he added: "However, you appear
to have good legs and a broad back, and, if you will lift
me and carry me, I will guide you safely through this
difficulty, which is more than each one can surmount for
himself. You shall walk for me, and I will see for you."
"With all my heart," rejoined the blind man; and, taking
the paralytic on his shoulders, the two went cheerfully
forward in a wise partnership which triumphed over all