King Solomon's servant came breathlessly into the court, "Please! Let me borrow your fastest horse!" he said to the King. "I must be in a town ten miles south of here by nightfall!"
"Why?" asked King Solomon.
"Because," said his shuddering servant, "I just met Death in the garden! Death looked me in the face! I know for certain I'm to be taken and I don't want to be around when Death comes to claim me!"
"Very well," said King Solomon. "My fastest horse has hoofs like wings. Take him." Then Solomon walked into the garden. He saw Death sitting there with a perplexed look on its face. "What's wrong?" asked King Solomon.
Death replied, "Tonight I'm supposed to claim the life of your servant whom I just now saw in your garden. But I'm supposed to claim him in a town ten miles south of here! Unless he had a horse with hooves like wings, I don't see how he could get there by nightfall . . ."
The Scorpion and the Frog
One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.
Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.
"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"
"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.
"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"
Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"
"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"
"Alright then...how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.
"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"
So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.
Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.
"You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"
The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog's back.
"I could not help myself. It is my nature."
Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river
The Fisherman's Widow
Long ago, an old fisherman's widow lived by the sea. She had no children to help her, and the villagers, embittered by perpetual poverty, spared her little if any food.
One day she fished on the beach, not far from a few young maidens. Noticing some commotion among them, the old woman saw that a wounded hippocampus was thrown by the waves onto the sand. The girls laughed at the unhappy animal, and one even threw a stone at him. Angry at such cruelty, the old woman went to comfort the hippocampus and dressed his wound. She gave him some water, and sat by his side, cradling his beautiful white head on her lap.
Eventually the hippocampus began to recover. He lifted his head and spoke:
"You saved my life. In return, I will grant you three wishes."
"Anything I want?" asked the widow.
"Anything you desire. I give you my word."
"Then I want you to make this village a prosperous place."
As soon as this was said, the poor village changed. The houses looked well-kept, and little vegetable gardens sprouted around them. The fishermen's boats sparkled, perfectly repaired and painted. The girls on the beach wore beautifully embroidered dresses.
"My second wish, hippocampus, is to make the villagers kind and good. Nobody should ever be turned away from their doors."
As soon as this was said, the girls changed. Tears came to their eyes and they rushed forward to help the hippocampus. The old woman saw windows and doors thrown open, and people hugging each other in the street.
"Don't you want anything for yourself?" asked the hippocampus.
"Yes, one thing," said the old woman. "I want death."
"Why? Look how you changed these girls with your kind wish. They seem concerned for both of us. Surely life will be good now in this village?"
"Not for me. My life is over, hippocampus. I have suffered too long and I am very old. Other people will benefit, I hope, but I have nothing left to do in this village," said the widow.
"I cannot give you death," said the hippocampus.
"You gave your word, hippocampus. Anything I want."
"Then you must follow me to my land. My Prince can give you death."
The girls tried to stop her, but the widow would not listen; she walked to the edge of the water with the hippocampus. The setting sun threw an orange streak of light on the sea, and it looked like a long golden road into the horizon. As the hippocampus and the old woman stepped on the streak of light, the sea opened, revealing broad stone stairs leading deep down. The girls retreated, terrified.
Never looking back, the old woman walked into the sea, and found she could breath as comfortably as she did on land. They descended the stairs for a long time, finally reaching the Land Beneath the Sea, which we call Atlantis.
The old woman had never seen such beauty. The light turned the bottom of the sea into an aquamarine paradise. A profusion of sea anemones fluttered and waved in the underwater gardens, colorful fishes swam everywhere, and many mermaids and mermen passed by, each riding a white hippocampus. Finally the widow and the hippocampus entered a magnificent palace made of pearls and shiny shells. Inside, on a huge golden throne, sat the handsome Prince of Atlantis, surrounded by his court. The hippocampus bowed, and related the story and the widow's request. The Prince listened attentively, smiled, and said:
"This is a wonderful story, my hippocampus friend. But where is the kind old woman who saved you life and wanted nothing for herself in return?"
"Why, Your Highness, I am the old woman," said the widow, astonished.
Everyone laughed, and the Prince handed her a jeweled mirror; from it smiled the face of her youth, when she was the village beauty and life was full of the promise of joy.
"No one grows old in Atlantis," said the Prince kindly, "and no one dies unless they want to. Look around you and decide. Do you still want death, my dear? Or would you rather live?"
"I would rather live, Your Highness, since you have given me the opportunity of a new life," said the widow. "But what will become of me? I do not want to go back to my village. My life there is finished."
"For a hundred years I have been looking for a special woman to be my wife, as it is the custom of the Royal House of Atlantis to choose their spouses from the World above the Sea. If I search the world for another hundred years I will not find anyone as selfless, wise, and beautiful as you," said the Prince. "Will you be my wife and the Princess of Atlantis?"
And so it was. And in the old village they have erected a statue in her honor, which can still be seen today, if you just go far enough up the coast of this little Greek Island where it all happened, long ago.
The Dancing Monkeys
A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils; and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts, and threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys, at the sight of the nuts, forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys instead of actors, and pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing spectacle thus came to an end, amidst the laughter and ridicule of the audience.
Moral: They who assume a character will betray themselves by their actions.
The Ass in the Lion's Skin
An Ass once found a Lion's skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgelling for the fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: "Ah, I knew you by your voice."
Moral: Silly words will disclose a fool.
There're many translations for each of Aesop's fables, I usually choose the one that I like best, but for this fable, "The Eagle and the Arrow", I like these 2 versions equally:
The Eagle and the Arrow - I
An eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the haft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it cried, as it died,
"We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction."
The Eagle and the Arrow - II
An eagle sat on a lofty rock, watching the movements of a Hare whom he sought to make his prey. An archer, who saw the Eagle from a place of concealment, took an accurate aim and wounded him mortally. The Eagle gave one look at the arrow that had entered his heart and saw in that single glance that its feathers had been furnished by himself. "It is a double grief to me," he exclaimed, "that I should perish by an arrow feathered from my own wings."
Moral: We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction or "Many are betrayed by the very things that they themselves have wrought."
A hunter once caught a bird that was very clever and able to speak seventy languages, and it thus addressed is captor, "Set me free, and I will teach you three precepts which will be of great use to you."
"Tell me these rules, and I will set you free," said the fowler.
"Swear to me first," retorted the clever bird, "that you will keep your promise and in truth set me free."
And when the man swore to keep his promise, the bird said, "My first precept is: Never rue anything that has happened. My second rule of conduct is: Never believe anything you are told that is impossible and beyond belief. My third precept is: Never try to reach something that is unattainable."
Having spoken thus, the bird reminded the bird-catcher of his promise and asked him to set him free, and the man opened his hand and let the captive bird fly away.
The bird sat down on the top of a tree that was taller than all the other trees, and mockingly called to the man below, "Stupid man, you did allow me to fly away not knowing that a precious pearl was hidden in my body, a pearl that is the cause of my great wisdom."
When the bird-catcher heard these words he greatly regretted having allowed the bird to fly away, and rushing up to the tree, he tried to climb it, but failing in his efforts he fell down and broke his legs.
The bird only laughed aloud, and said, "Stupid man! Not an hour has passed since I taught you three wise precepts, and you have already forgotten them. I told you never to rue anything that was past, and you did repent having set me free. I told you never to believe anything that was evidently beyond belief, and you were credulous enough to believe that I actually carried a costly pearl in my body. I am only a poor wild bird hourly in search of my nourishment. And finally, I advised you never to strive in vain after the unattainable, while you did try to catch a bird with your hands, and are now lying below with broken legs. It is of men of your kidney that the philosopher has said, 'A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.' [Proverbs, ch. 17 , v. 10 ] But alas, you are no exception, for there are many men as unwise as yourself."
And thus speaking, the wise bird flew away in search of nourishment.
A Little Blue Bird's Tale
Once upon a tale,
not very long ago,
there lived a little bard,
with his little harp,
dusty boots, tattered cape and all,
always singing and strumming,
of the ends of rainbow,
of treasures untold,
of pots of gold,
and fairytales come true.
Upon he came, a tiny sproutling of an oak tree. On that tree, sat a little blue bird. Sigh, the little blue bird heaved.
"What ails you my dear friend?"
"Tell me your sad tale, little blue bird, and i shall sing it to world behold."
The little bird fluttered her little wings, winged her exotic magic and the little bard, fell into a watching dream. He saw....
There was a little girl, holding the little blue bird, cupped in her hands, beneath that same sprouting oak tree.
"I am setting you free." The little girl whispered, to the little blue bird. "And if we shall meet again, under this same tree, then it is fate. And if the tree, is to be never again seen by one, then the other shall not hold it against the missing one. And that's our little promise."
That said, the little girl sent the little blue bird into the air. The little blue bird, fluttered her little wings, took to the skies, and never once looked back.
The fluttering wings, left the little bard in an awakening dream. And soon, he was on his way, away from the little blue bird and her sprouting tree, away from the little girl that wasn't there, always singing and strumming.
Once upon a tale,
not very long ago,
there live a little bard,
with his weary harp,
dusty boots, tattered cape and all,
always singing and strumming,
of the ends of rainbow,
of treasures untold,
of pots of gold,
of promises uphold,
of a little blue bird,
of her leaving and never looking back,
of her returning and never left.
The Fox and the Cat
A Fox was boasting to a Cat of its clever devices for escaping its enemies.
"I have a whole bag of tricks," he said, "which contains a hundred ways of escaping my enemies."
"I have only one," said the Cat; "but I can generally manage with that."
Just at that moment they heard the cry of a pack of hounds coming towards them, and the Cat immediately scampered up a tree and hid herself in the boughs.
"This is my plan," said the Cat. "What are you going to do?"
The Fox thought first of one way, then of another, and while he was debating the hounds came nearer and nearer, and at last the Fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds and soon killed by the huntsmen.
Miss Puss, who had been looking on, said:
"Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon."
- The Cat And The Fox
Once a Cat and a Fox were traveling together. As they went along, picking up provisions on the waya stray mouse here, a fat chicken therethey began an argument to while away the time between bites. And, as usually happens when comrades argue, the talk began to get personal.
"You think you are extremely clever, don't you?" said the Fox. "Do you pretend to know more than I? Why, I know a whole sackful of tricks!"
"Well," retorted the Cat, "I admit I know one trick only, but that one, let me tell you, is worth a thousand of yours!"
Just then, close by, they heard a hunter's horn and the yelping of a pack of hounds. In an instant the Cat was up a tree, hiding among the leaves.
"This is my trick," he called to the Fox. "Now let me see what yours are worth."
But the Fox had so many plans for escape he could not decide which one to try first. He dodged here and there with the hounds at his heels. He doubled on his tracks, he ran at top speed, he entered a dozen burrows,but all in vain. The hounds caught him, and soon put an end to the boaster and all his tricks.
Moral: "Common sense is always worth more than cunning."