This is a marvellous collection of tales from the Greek story teller, Aesop. Aesop was a slave in ancient Greece. He was a keen observer of both animals and people. Most of the characters in his stories are animals, some of which take on human characteristic and are personified in ways of speech and emotions. However, the majority of his character retain their animalistic qualities; tortoise are slow, hares are quick, tigers eat bird, etc. Aesop uses these qualities and natural tendencies of animals to focus on human traits and wisdom. Each fable has an accompanying moral to be learned from the tale.
1) The Bear and the Bees
A bear came across a log where a swarm of bees had nested to make their honey. As he snooped around, a single little bee flew out of the log to protect the swarm. Knowing that the bear would eat all the honey, the little bee stung him sharply on the nose and flew back into the log.
This flew the bear into an angry rage. He swatted at the log with his big claws, determined to destroy the nest of bees inside. This only alerted the bees and quick as a wink, the entire swarm of bees flew out of the log and began to sting the bear from head to heel. The bear saved himself by running to and diving into the nearest pond.
It is better to bear a single injury in silence than to bring about a thousand by reacting in anger.
2) The Boy Who Cried Wolf
There once was a boy who kept sheep not far from the village. He would often become bored and to amuse himself he would call out,
"Wolf! Wolf," although there was no wolf about.
The villagers would stop what they were doing and run to save the sheep from the wolf's jaw. Once they arrived at the pasture, the boy just laughed. The naughty boy played this joke over and over until the villagers tired of him.
One day while the boy was watching the sheep, a wolf did come into the fold. The boy cried and cried,
No one came. The wolf had a feast of sheep that day.
No one will believe a habitual liar even when he is telling the truth.
3) The Boys and the Frogs
Some boys were playing around a pond when they spotted a group of frogs hopping and swimming about in the water. The boys began to throw rocks at the frogs and even competed against each other as to who could hit the most frogs. Sometimes the rocks hit the frogs so hard that they died.
Finally one frog hopped upon a lily pad.
"Please stop," he pleaded, "What may seem just fun to you is death to us."
We should not have our pleasures at the expense of others.
4) The Cat and the Rooster
One day a cat happen to grab hold of rooster for its evening meal. She wanted, however, a good excuse for killing the bird.
"I need to rid the world of you," she told the rooster, "You constantly make your horrible noises throughout the night, interfering with men's much needed sleep. The world will be better off without you."
"No," said the rooster, "I crow for the good of men. I wake them up each morning when it is time for them to start work for the day, so that they may earn their living."
"Ridiculous!" said the cat, and she ate him.
Evil is determined on doing wrong even when it hides behind the disguise of fairness.
5) The Cat, the Rooster, and the Young Mouse
A very young mouse made his first trip out of the hole and into the world. He returned to tell his mother of the wonderful creatures he saw.
"Oh, Mother," said the mouse, "I saw some curious animals. There was one beautiful animal with fluffy fur and a long winding tail. She made such a tender vibrating noise. I saw another animal, a terrible looking monster. He had raw meat on his head and on his chin that wiggled and shook as he walked. He spread out his sides and cried with such a powerful and frightening wail, that I scurried away in fear, without even talking to the kind beautiful animal.
Mother Mouse smiled, "My dear, that horrible creature was a harmless bird, but that beautiful animal with the fluffy fur was a mouse-eating cat. You are lucky she did not have you for dinner."
Do not trust outward appearances.
6) he City Mouse and the Country Mouse
A country mouse invited his cousin who lived in the city to come visit him. The city mouse was so disappointed with the sparse meal which was nothing more than a few kernels of corn and a couple of dried berries.
"My poor cousin," said the city mouse, "you hardly have anything to eat! I do believe that an ant could eat better! Please do come to the city and visit me, and I will show you such rich feasts, readily available for the taking."
So the country mouse left with his city cousin who brought him to a splendid feast in the city's alley. The country mouse could not believe his eyes. He had never seen so much food in one place. There was bread, cheese, fruit, cereals, and grains of all sorts scattered about in a warm cozy portion of the alley.
The two mice settled down to eat their wonderful dinner, but before they barely took their first bites, a cat approached their dining area. The two mice scampered away and hid in a small uncomfortable hole until the cat left. Finally, it was quiet, and the unwelcome visitor went to prowl somewhere else. The two mice ventured out of the hole and resumed their abundant feast. Before they could get a proper taste in their mouth, another visitor intruded on their dinner, and the two little mice had to scuttle away quickly.
"Goodbye," said the country mouse, "You do, indeed, live in a plentiful city, but I am going home where I can enjoy my dinner in peace."
A modest life with peace and quiet is better than a richly one with danger and strife.
7) A Council of Mice
The mice, frustrated by the constant dangers of the cat, met in council to determine a solution to their tiring challenge. They discussed, and equally rejected, plan after plan. Eventually, a very young mouse raised up on his hind legs, and proposed that a bell should be hung around the cat's neck.
"What a splendid idea!" they cried.
"Oh yes, that would very well warn of the cat's presence in time to escape!"
They were accepting the proposal with great enthusiasm and applause, until a quiet old mouse stood up to speak.
"This is, indeed, a very good suggestion and would no doubt solve our problems," he said, "Now, which one of us will put the bell around the cat's neck?"
It's one thing to propose. It's something else to carry it out.
8) The Dog and His Reflection
A dog was walking home with his dinner, a large slab of meat, in his mouth. On his way home, he walked by a river. Looking in the river, he saw another dog with a handsome chunk of meat in his mouth.
"I want that meat, too," thought the dog, and he snapped at the dog to grab his meat which caused him to drop his dinner in the river.
Too much greed results in nothing.
9) The Donkey and His Master
A man was leading his donkey down a road, when the donkey got free and ran to the edge of high cliff. The man ran as fast as he could to the donkey and grabbed his tail to stop the donkey from going off the edge of the cliff. But the donkey was stubborn; the more the man tried to stop him, the more the donkey pulled the other way.
"Oh well," said the man, "if you are determined to go your own way, I cannot stop you."
A strong-willed beast will go his own way even to destruction.
10) The Fox and the Crow
A fox was walking through the forest when he saw a crow sitting on a tree branch with a fine piece of cheese in her beak. The fox wanted the cheese and decided he would be clever enough to outwit the bird.
"What a noble and gracious bird I see in the tree!" proclaimed the fox, "What exquisite beauty! What fair plumage! If her voice is as lovely as her beauty, she would no doubt be the jewel of all birds."
The crow was so flattered by all this talk that she opened her beak and gave a cry to show the fox her voice.
"Caw! Caw!" she cried, as the cheese dropped to the ground for the fox to grab.
Beware of flattery.
11) The Fox and the Lion
A young fox saw a lion for the very first time. He was so frightened by the appearance of the great beast that he ran away as fast as he could. The second time he saw the lion, he hid behind a large rock and peeped out to see the lion. The third time he saw the lion, he went straight up to him, and said, "Hello, Mr. Lion."
Familiarity breeds contempt.
12) The Fox and The Mask
One day a fox went rummaging in the house of an actor. He came across a pile of the actor's stage accessories and noticed a mask in the midst of the pile.
He swatted and played with the mask for a few moments before saying, "What a handsome face this person has. It's a pity he has no brains."
A fine outward appearance is empty without a worthwhile inner self.
13) The Frog and the Ox
One afternoon a grand and wonderful ox was on his daily stroll, when he was noticed by a small haggardly frog. The frog was too impressed with the great ox, impressed to the point of envy.
"Look at this magnificent ox!" he called to all his friends, "He's such a grand size for an animal, but he's no greater than I am if I tried."
The frog started puffing and swelled from his normal size.
"Am I as large as the wonderful ox?" he asked his friends.
"No, no, not near as grand as the ox," they replied.
So, the frog puffed himself up more and more, trying to reach the state of the ox.
"Now? now?" asked the frog.
"No, no. But please, don't try anymore," pleaded his friends.
But the frog continue to puff and swell, larger and larger until he finally burst.
Be true to your own character.
14) The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg
A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich.
"Just think," said the man's wife, "If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster."
"You're right," said her husband, "We wouldn't have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day."
So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.
Too much greed results in nothing.
15) The Lion and the Mouse
One day a lion was waken from his afternoon nap by a group of mice scurrying all about him. Swat! went his huge paw upon one the little creatures. The mouse pleaded for mercy from the stately beast. The lion took compassion upon the tiny mouse and released him.
A few days later, the lion became trapped in a hunter's net. His roars made the whole forest tremble. The little mouse whose life was spared approached the lion in the snare and used his sharp little teeth to gnaw the strong ropes until the lion was free.
One good turn deserves another.
16) The Lion's Share
The lion went hunting one day with three other beasts. Together, they surrounded and caught a deer. With the consent of the other three, the lion divided the prey into four equal shares, but just when each animal was about to take his portion, the lion stopped them.
"Wait," said the lion, "Since I am a member of the hunting party, I am to receive one of these portions. Since I am considered to rank so high among the beasts of the forest, I am to receive the second share. Since I am known for my courage and strength, I am to receive the third share. As for the fourth share, if you wish to argue with me about its ownership, let's begin, and we will see who will get it."
Always agree on the share of the profits before going into business with others.
17) The Man and His Two Wives
A man whose hair was turning gray had two wives. One wife was much younger than the man, and the other wife was much older. The older wife was embarrassed at being married to man much younger than herself. At night, whenever he was with her, she would pluck out all of his hairs that were not gray. The younger woman was equally embarrassed at being married to a man so much older than herself. At night, whenever he was with her, she would pluck out all of hairs that were gray. Between the two wives, the man was soon left without a hair on his head.
It is impossible to outwit time.
18) The Peacock's Complaint
A peacock was very unhappy with his ugly voice, and he spent most of his days complaining about it.
"It is true that you cannot sing," said the fox, "But look how beautiful you are!"
"Oh, but what good is all this beauty," moaned the dishearten bird, "with such an unpleasant voice!"
"Oh hear," said the fox, "Each one has it's special gift. You have such beauty, the nightingale has his song, the owl has his eyes, and the eagle his strength. Even if you had a eloquent voice, you would still complain about another thing."
Do not envy the gifts of others. Make the most of your own.
19) The Rooster and the Fox
A rooster was perched on a branch of a very high tree, crowing loudly. His powerful exclamations were heard throughout the forest and caught the attention of a hungry fox who was out and about looking for a prey.
The fox saw how high the bird was positioned and thought of a sly way to bring the rooster down for his meal.
"Excuse me, my dear proud Rooster," he gently spoke, "Have you not heard of the universal treaty and proclamation of harmony that is now set before all beasts and birds and every creature in our forest. We are no longer to hunt or prey nor ravish one another, but we are to live together in peace, harmony, and love. Do come down, Rooster, and we shall speak more on this matter of such great importance."
Now, the rooster, who knew that the fox was known for his sly wit, said nothing, but looked out in the distance, as if he were seeing something.
"At what are you looking so intently?" asked the fox. "I see a pack of wild dogs," said the rooster, "I do believe they're coming our way, Mr. Fox." "Oh, I must go," said the fox. "Please do not go yet, Mr. Fox," said the rooster, "I was just on my way down. We will wait on the dogs and discuss this new time of peace with all."
"No, no," said the fox, "I must go. The dogs have not heard of this treaty of peace yet."
Beware of the sudden offers of friendship.
20) The Rooster and the Jewel
A very hungry rooster was scratching and digging in the dirt looking for food. He scratched and dug and finally found a beautiful jewel. He was amazed at how the gem shone glittered.
"This is a very fine and beautiful thing," he thought, "but I would rather have one tasty kernel of corn instead."
What is a treasure to one may be worthless to another.
21) Sour Grapes
A very hungry fox walked into a vineyard where there was an ample supply of luscious looking grapes. Grapes had never looked so good, and the fox was famished. However, the grapes hung higher than the fox could reach. He jumped and stretched and hopped and reached and jumped some more trying to get those yummy grapes, but to no avail. No matter what he tried, he could not reach the grapes. He wore himself out jumping and jumping to get the grapes.
"Those grapes surely must be sour," he said as he walked away, "I wouldn't eat them if they were served to me on a silver platter."
It is easy to hate what you cannot have.
22) The Tiger and the Crane
An old crane had adopted an orphaned tiger cub and raised the little animal along with his own baby. The two infants grew up side by side and became to be good friends and playmates. They never quarreled and played happily together.
One day another larger crane came along and treated the young one harshly. He bullied the little crane so badly that the young one cried out for help. Up rushed the tiger and without any thought, he gobbled up the bully crane.
Now having the taste of flesh in his mouth, he realized how good the bird taste. He turned to his little playmate.
"How much I love you, little crane!" exclaimed the tiger, and he had the bird for dessert.
That which is inbred inside will reveal itself outwardly.