Best-Loved Aesop Fables
Who Is Aesop?
Aesop's fables are over two thousand years old. According to tradition he was a Greek slave, living in the sixth century BC. His stories were cleverly told, presenting human problems through the dilemmas of animal characters, a tradition present in the cultures of many different races. Though they were first told long ago, the stories are as relevant today as ever. Even now the children hang on to the moral lesson at the end of the story. Aesop must have been a keen observer and it shows in his fables.
We don't know if he write them down and no one knows if he really invented all of them, but we do know that they have been popular ever since.
When I was young I found a collection of Aesop's fables in our school library. I loved it and I keep coming back to read it. Here are some of my favourite ones.
The Dog and His Reflection
A dog, to whom the butcher had thrown a bone, was hurrying home with his prize as fast as he could go. As he crossed a narrow footbridge, he happened to look down and saw himself reflected in the quiet water as if in a mirror. But the greedy dog thought he saw a real dog carrying a bone much bigger than his own.
If he had stopped to think he would have known better. But instead of thinking, he dropped his bone and sprang at the dog in the river, only to find himself swimming for dear life to reach the shore. At last he managed to scramble out, and as he stood sadly thinking about the good bone he had lost, he realized what a stupid dog he had been.
Moral Lesson: "It is very foolish to be greedy."
Watch on YouTube : Aesop's Fables - The Bear and the Two Men
Two Travelers and a Bear
Two men were traveling in a company through a forest, when, all at once, a huge bear crashed out of the brush near them.
One of the men, thinking of his own safety, climbed a tree. The other, unable to fight the savage beast alone, threw himself on the ground and lay still, as if he were dead. He had heard that a bear will not touch a dead body.
It must have been true, for the bear sniffed at the man's head awhile, and then, seeming to be satisfied that he was dead, walked away. The man in the tree climbed down. "It looked just as if that bear whispered in your ear," he said. "What did he tell you?" "He said," answered the other, "that it was not at all wise to keep company with a fellow who would desert his friend in a moment of danger."
Moral Lesson: "Misfortune is the test of true friendship."
The Crow and the Pitcher
In a spell of dry weather, when the birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty crow found a pitcher with a little water in it. But the pitcher was high and had a narrow neck, and no matter how he tried, the crow could not reach the water. The poor thing felt as if he must die of thirst.
Then an idea came to him. Picking up some small pebbles, he dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble, the water rose a little higher until at last it was near enough so he could drink.
Moral Lesson: "In a pinch a good use of our wits may help us out."
Belling the Cat
The mice once called a meeting to decide on a plan to free themselves of their enemy, the cat. At least they wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so they might have time to run away. Indeed, something had to be done, for they lived in such constant fear of her claws that they hardly dared stir from their dens by night or day.
Many plans were discussed, but none of them was thought good enough. At last a very young mouse got up and said: "I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful. All we have to do is to hang a bell about the cat's neck. When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming."
All the mice were much surprised that they had not thought of such a plan before. But in the midst of the rejoicing over their good fortune, an old mouse arose and said: "I will say that the plan of the young mouse is very good. But let me ask one question: Who will bell the cat?"
Moral Lesson: "It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it."
The Young Crab and His Mother
"Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?" said a mother crab to her son. "You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out."
"Show me how to walk, mother dear," answered the little crab obediently, "I want to learn."
So the old crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.
Moral Lesson: "Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example."
The Fox and the Grapes
A fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice and the fox's mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.
The bunch hung from a high branch, and the fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.
Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.
"What a fool I am," he said. "Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for." And off he walked very, very scornfully.
Moral Lesson: "There are many who pretend to despise and belittle that which is beyond their reach."
The Gnat and the Bull
A gnat flew over the meadow with much buzzing for so small a creature and settled on the tip of one of the horns of a Bull.
After he had rested a short time, he made ready to fly away. But before he left he begged the bull's pardon for having used his horn for a resting place.
"You must be very glad to have me go now," he said.
"It's all the same to me," replied the bull. "I did not even know you were there."
- "We are often of greater importance in our own eyes than in the eyes of our neighbor."
- "The smaller the mind the greater the conceit."