Aesop's Fables - Aesop - ebook

It is both amazing and wonderful that so much of the richness of our language and our moral education still owes a huge debt to a Greek slave who was executed more than two thousand years ago. Yet "sour grapes," "crying 'wolf,'" "actions speak louder than words," "honesty is the best policy," and literally hundreds of other metaphors, axioms, and ideas that are now woven into the very fabric of Western culture all came from Aesop's Fables. An extraordinary storyteller who used cunning foxes, surly dogs, clever mice, fearsome lions, and foolish humans to describe the reality of a harsh world, Aesop created narratives that are appealing, funny, politically astute, and profoundly true. And Aesop's truth—often summed up in the pithy "moral of the story"—retains an awesome power to affect us, reaching us through both our intellects and our hearts.

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Table of Contents

The Cat-Maiden

The Milkmaid and Her Pail

The Sick Lion

The Man and the Serpent

The Cock and the Pearl

The Wolf and the Lamb

The Dog and the Shadow

The Lion's Share

The Fox and the Crow

The Swallow and the Other Birds

The Hares and the Frogs


The Serpent and the File

The Hart in the Ox-Stall

The Eagle and the Arrow

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner

The Buffoon and the Countryman

The Fox and the Goat

The Ass's Brains

The Horse and the Ass

The Hare With Many Friends

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Fox Without a Tail

The One-Eyed Doe

Belling the Cat

The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey

The Miser and His Gold

The Fox and the Mosquitoes

The Lion in Love

The Bundle of Sticks

The Old Man and Death

The Labourer and the Nightingale

The Goose With the Golden Eggs

The Man and the Satyr

The Crow and the Pitcher

The Fisher and the Little Fish

The Four Oxen and the Lion

The Ass in the Lion's Skin

The Wolf and the Crane

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

The Mountains in Labour

The Bald Man and the Fly

The Frogs Desiring a King

The Wolf and the Kid

The Fox and the Stork

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts

The Jay and the Peacock

The Frog and the Ox

The Fox and the Mask

The Dog and the Wolf

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Fox and the Cat

The Tree and the Reed

The Man and the Wooden God

The Fisher

The Dog in the Manger

The Fox and the Lion

The Shepherd's Boy

The Young Thief and His Mother

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

The Nurse and the Wolf

The Two Crabs

The Tortoise and the Birds

Avaricious and Envious

The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog

The Wind and the Sun

Hercules and the Waggoner

The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts

The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar

The Two Fellows and the Bear

The Man and His Two Wives

The Lion and the Statue

The Peacock and Juno

The Two Pots

The Fox and the Grapes

The Belly and the Members

The Man and the Wood

The Hart and the Hunter

The Woodman and the Serpent

The Ass and the Lapdog

The Lion and the Mouse



Aesop's Fables








First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri


The Cat-Maiden

The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being to change its nature. Jupiter said "Yes," but Venus said "No." So, to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young couple sat down to the wedding-feast. "See," said Jupiter, to Venus, "how becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a Cat? Surely her nature is changed?" "Wait a minute," replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and tried to pounce upon the mouse. "Ah, you see," said Venus, "Nature will out."

The Milkmaid and Her Pail

Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail on her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do with the money she would get for the milk. "I'll buy some fowls from Farmer Brown," said she, "and they will lay eggs each morning, which I will sell to the parson's wife. With the money that I get from the sale of these eggs I'll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat; and when I go to market, won't all the young men come up and speak to me! Polly Shaw will be that jealous; but I don't care. I shall just look at her and toss my head like this. As she spoke she tossed her head back, the Pail fell off it, and all the milk was spilt. So she had to go home and tell her mother what had occurred. "Ah, my child," said the mother, "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched."

The Sick Lion

A Lion had come to the end of his days and lay sick unto death at the mouth of his cave, gasping for breath. The animals, his subjects, came round him and drew nearer as he grew more and more helpless. When they saw him on the point of death they thought to themselves: "Now is the time to pay off old grudges." So the Boar came up and drove at him with his tusks; then a Bull gored him with his horns; still the Lion lay helpless before them: so the Ass, feeling quite safe from danger, came up, and turning his tail to the Lion kicked up his heels into his face. "This is a double death," growled the Lion. Only cowards insult dying majesty.

The Man and the Serpent

A Countryman's son by accident trod upon a Serpent's tail, which turned and bit him so that he died. The father in a rage got his axe, and pursuing the Serpent, cut off part of its tail. So the Serpent in revenge began stinging several of the Farmer's cattle and caused him severe loss. Well, the Farmer thought it best to make it up with the Serpent, and brought food and honey to the mouth of its lair, and said to it: "Let's forget and forgive; perhaps you were right to punish my son, and take vengeance on my cattle, but surely I was right in trying to revenge him; now that we are both satisfied why should not we be friends again?" "No, no," said the Serpent; "take away your gifts; you can never forget the death of your son, nor I the loss of my tail." Injuries may be forgiven, but not forgotten.

The Cock and the Pearl

A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens when suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. "Ho! ho!" quoth he, "that's for me," and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. What did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been lost in the yard? "You may be a treasure," quoth Master Cock, "to men that prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck of pearls." Precious things are for those that can prize them.

The Wolf and the Lamb