Unit One Section D

Aesop’s Fables


The Bat and the Weasels

Aesop was a Greek slave who lived in the sixth century, B.C. Do the lessons in thefollowing fables by Aesop still have meaning today?

A Bat fell to the ground and was caught by a Weasel, and was just going to be killed and eaten when it begged to be let go. The Weasel said he couldn't do that because he was an enemy of all birds on principle. "Oh, but," said the Bat, "I'm not a bird at all: I'm a mouse." "So you are," said the Weasel, “now I come to look at you"; and he let it go. Some time after this the Bat was caught in just the same way by another Weasel, and, as before, begged for its life. "No," said the Weasel, "I never let a mouse go by any chance.” “But I'm not a mouse," said the Bat; "I'm a bird." "Why, so you are," said the Weasel; and he too let the Bat go.

The Moral: Look and see which way the wind blows hefore you commit yourself.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. The first weasel says that he is an enemy of all birds "on principle." What does the weasel mean?
2. How does the bat escape from each weasel?
3. Read the moral of the story or lesson, Do you think it is always wise to base your words and actions on what is happening around you?

The Crow and the Pitcher

Have you ever been surprised at your own cleverness? Read to find out what happens when we are forced to be creative.

A thirsty Crow found a Pitcher with some water in it, but so little was there that, try as she might, she could not reach it with her beak, and it seemed as though she would die of thirst within sight of the remedy. At last she hit upon a clever plan. She began dropping pebbles into the Pitcher, and with each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last it reached the brim, and the knowing bird was enabled to quench her thirst.

The Moral: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What was the problem the crow needed to solve?
2. How did dropping pebbles in the pitcher solve the crow's problem?
3. Can you think of a personal situation in which necessity was the mother of invention?

The Quack Frog

Many of us have claimed to be able to do things that we can't. When is such a lie most obvious?

Once upon a time a Frog came forth from his home in the marshes and proclaimed to all the world that he was a learned physician, skilled in drugs and able to cure all diseases. Among the crowd was a Fox, who called out, "You a doctor! Why, how can you set up to heal others when you cannot even cure your own lame legs and blotched and wrinkled skin?"

The Moral: Physician, heal thyself.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What did the frog claim he could do?
2. Why did the fox disagree? What point is the fox making?
3. Is this fable directed only toward physicians, or does the message apply to a wider audience? Explain your answer.

The Fox and the Lion

What causes fear? Read this fable to find one answer.

A Fox who had never seen a Lion one day met one, and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die with fear. After a time he met him again, and was still rather frightened, but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first. But when he saw him for the third time he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life.

The Moral: We fear most that which we know least.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What was the fox's reaction when he saw the lion for the first time?
2.How did the fox's reaction change? Why?
3. Does this fable provide any hints about how to get a new idea accepted by others?
4. Is the moral of this fable useful today? Give a personal example if possible.

The Wolf and the Crane

Life is full of surprises. Are there some things, though, that we should never expect?

A Wolf once got a bone stuck in his throat. So he went to a Crane and begged him to put his long bill down his throat and pull it out. "I'll make it worth your while," he added. The Crane did as he was asked, and got the bone out quite easily. The Wolf thanked him warmly, and was just turning away, when he cried, "What about that fee of mine?" "Well, what about it?" snapped the Wolf, baring his teeth as he spoke; "you can go about boasting that you once put your head into a Wolf's mouth and didn't get it bitten off. What more do you want?"
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What did the wolf ask the crane to do?
2. What did the wolf suggest that the crane would get in exchange for his help?
3. What did the wolf imply when he bared his teeth?
4. What do you think would be a good moral for this fable?

”Aesop"s Last Fable” by WILLIAM MARCH

This humorous tale describes an imaginary meeting that Aesop had with some ancient Greeks. How did they react to his fables?

Aesop, the messenger of King Croesus, finished his business with the Delphians, and went back to the tavern where he had taken lodgings. Later, he came into the taproom where a group of Delphians were drinking. When they realized who he was, they crowded about him. "Tell us," they began, "is Croesus as rich as people say?"
Aesop, since the habit of speaking in fables was so strongly fixed in him, said, "I can best answer your question with a parable, and it is this: the animals gathered together to crown their richest member king. Each animal in turn stated what he possessed, and it was soon apparent that the lion had the largest hunting preserves, the bee the most honey, the squirrel the largest supply of acorns, and so on; but when the voting began, the difficulty of arriving at a decision was plain to all. For to the bee, the nuts that represented the wealth of the squirrel were of no consequence; to the lion, the hay that the zebra and the buffalo owned was worthless; and the panther and the tiger set no value at all on the river that the crane and crocodile prized so highly."
Then Aesop called for his drink, looking into the faces of the Delphians with good--natured amusement. He said, "The moral of the fable is this: Wealth is an intangible thing, and its meaning is not the same to all men alike." The stolid Delphians looked at one another, and when the silence was becoming noticeable, one of them tried again: "How was the weather in Lydia when you left home?"
"I can best answer that question with another fable," said Aesop, "and it is this: During a rain storm, when the ditches were flooded and the ponds had overflowed their banks, a cat and a duck met on the road, and, wanting to make conversation, they spoke at the same instant. 'What a beautiful day this is,' said the delighted duck. What a terrible weather we're having,' said the disgusted cat."
Again the Delphians looked at one another, and again there was sflence. "The moral of that tale," said Aesop, "is this: What pleases a duck, distresses a cat." He poured wine into his glass and leaned against the wall, well satisfied with the start he had made in instructing the barbarous Delphians. The Delpbians moved uneasily in their seats, and after a long time, one of them said, "How long are you going to be here?"
"That," said Aesop, "can best be answered in the Fable of the Tortoise, the Pelican, and the Wolf. You see, the pelican went to visit his friend the tortoise, and promised to remain as long as the latter was building his new house. Then one day as they were working together, with the tortoise burrowing and the pelican carrying away the dirt in his pouch, the wolf came on them unexpectedly, and....."
But Aesop got no farther, for the Delphians had surrounded him and were, an instant later, carrying him toward the edge of the cliff on which the tavern was built. When they reached it, they swung him outward and turned him loose, and Aesop was hurled to the rocks below, where he died. "The moral of what we have done," they explained later, "is so obvious that it needs no elaboration!"
Developing Comprehension Skills

I. How does Aesop answer the question about King Croesus's wealth?
2. How does Aesop answer the question about the weather?
3. How do the Delphians react after both of Aesop's answers? Why do they react this way?
4. What happens when Aesop begins his third fable?
5. What is the "moral" of what the Delphians did? Can you sympathize with their reaction?