Fable listing


Fables 1

The Fox and the Grapes
The Goose that laid the golden..
The Cat and the Mice
The mischievous Dog
The charcoal-Burner and the..
The Mice in Council
The Bat and the Weasels
The Dog and the Sow
The Fox and the Crow
The Horse and the Groom
The Wolf and the Lamb
The Peacock and the Crane
The Cat an the Birds
The Spendthrift and the Swallow
The old Woman and the Doctor
The Moon and her Mother
Mercury and the Woodman
The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion
The Lion and the Mouse
The Crow and the Pitcher
The Boys and the Frogs
The North Wind and the Sun
The Mistress and her Servants
The Goods and the Ills
The Hares and the Frogs
The Fox and the Stork
The Wolf in Shepp's Clothing
The Stag in the Ox-Stall
The Milkmaid and her Pail
The Dolphins, the Whales, and the..

∆sop's Fables/A news Translation/
©By Vernon Jones/and Illustrations by/©Arthur Rackham/1912 Edition

The Fox and the Grapes

A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes
hanging from a vine that was trained along a high
trellis, and did  is best to reach them by jumping
as high as he could into the air. But it was all in
vain, for  they were just out of reach: so he gave
up trying, and walked away with an air of dignity
and unconcern, remarking, "I thought those Grapes
were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour."

The Goose that laid the golden Eggs

A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid
a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to
think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird
must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to
secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it
open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither
got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the
daily addition to their wealth.

    Much wants more and loses all.

The Cat and the Mice

There was once a house that was overrun with Mice. A Cat heard of
this, and said to herself, "That's the place for me," and off she went
and took up her quarters in the house, and caught the Mice one by one
and ate them. At last the Mice could stand it no longer, and they
determined to take to their holes and stay there. "That's awkward,"
said the Cat to herself: "the only thing to do is to coax them out by
a trick." So she considered a while, and then climbed up the wall and
let herself hang down by her hind legs from a peg, and pretended to
be dead. By and by a Mouse peeped out and saw the Cat hanging there.
"Aha!" it cried, "you're very clever, madam, no doubt: but you may
turn yourself into a bag of meal hanging there, if you like, yet you
won't catch us coming anywhere near you."

    If you are wise you won't be deceived by the innocent airs of
    those whom you have once found to be dangerous.

The mischievous Dog

There was once a Dog who used to snap at people and bite them without
any provocation, and who was a great nuisance to every one who came to
his master's house. So his master fastened a bell round his neck to
warn people of his presence. The Dog was very proud of the bell, and
strutted about tinkling it with immense satisfaction. But an old dog
came up to him and said, "The fewer airs you give yourself the better,
my friend. You don't think, do you, that your bell was given you as a
reward of merit? On the contrary, it is a badge of disgrace."

    Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.

The charcoal-Burner and the Fuller

There was once a Charcoal-burner who lived and worked by himself.
A Fuller, however, happened to come and settle in the same
neighbourhood; and the Charcoal-burner, having made his acquaintance
and finding he was an agreeable sort of fellow, asked him if he would
come and share his house: "We shall get to know one another better
that way," he said, "and, beside, our household expenses will be
diminished." The Fuller thanked him, but replied, "I couldn't think
of it, sir: why, everything I take such pains to whiten would be
blackened in no time by your charcoal."

The Mice in Council

Once upon a time all the Mice met together in Council, and discussed
the best means of securing themselves against the attacks of the cat.
After several suggestions had been debated, a Mouse of some standing
and experience got up and said, "I think I have hit upon a plan which
will ensure our safety in the future, provided you approve and carry
it out. It is that we should fasten a bell round the neck of our enemy
the cat, which will by its tinkling warn us of her approach." This
proposal was warmly applauded, and it had been already decided to
adopt it, when an old Mouse got upon his feet and said, "I agree with
you all that the plan before us is an admirable one: but may I ask who
is going to bell the cat?"

The Bat and the Weasels

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.

    Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.

The Dog and the Sow

A Dog and a Sow were arguing and each claimed that its own young ones
were finer than those of any other animal. "Well," said the Sow at
last, "mine can see, at any rate, when they come into the world: but
yours are born blind."

The Fox and the Crow

A Crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her
beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover
some way of getting the cheese. Coming and standing under the tree he
looked up and said, "What a noble bird I see above me! Her beauty is
without equal, the hue of her plumage exquisite. If only her voice is
as sweet as her looks are fair, she ought without doubt to be Queen of
the Birds." The Crow was hugely flattered by this, and just to show
the Fox that she could sing she gave a loud caw. Down came the cheese,
of course, and the Fox, snatching it up, said, "You have a voice,
madam, I see: what you want is wits."

The Horse and the Groom

There was once a Groom who used to spend long hours clipping and
combing the Horse of which he had charge, but who daily stole a
portion of his allowance of oats, and sold it for his own profit. The
Horse gradually got into worse and worse condition, and at last cried
to the Groom, "If you really want me to look sleek and well, you must
comb me less and feed me more."

The Wolf and the Lamb

A Wolf came upon a Lamb straying from the flock, and felt some
compunction about taking the life of so helpless a creature without
some plausible excuse; so he cast about for a grievance and said
at last, "Last year, sirrah, you grossly insulted me." "That is
impossible, sir," bleated the Lamb, "for I wasn't born then." "Well,"
retorted the Wolf, "you feed in my pastures." "That cannot be,"
replied the Lamb, "for I have never yet tasted grass." "You drink from
my spring, then," continued the Wolf. "Indeed, sir," said the poor
Lamb, "I have never yet drunk anything but my mother's milk." "Well,
anyhow," said the Wolf, "I'm not going without my dinner": and he
sprang upon the Lamb and devoured it without more ado.

The Peacock and the Crane

A Peacock taunted a Crane with the dullness of her plumage. "Look at
my brilliant colours," said she, "and see how much finer they are than
your poor feathers." "I am not denying," replied the Crane, "that
yours are far gayer than mine; but when it comes to flying I can
soar into the clouds, whereas you are confined to the earth like any
dunghill cock."

The Cat an the Birds

A Cat heard that the Birds in an aviary were ailing. So he got himself
up as a doctor, and, taking with him a set of the instruments proper
to his profession, presented himself at the door, and inquired after
the health of the Birds. "We shall do very well," they replied,
without letting him in, "when we've seen the last of you."

    A villain may disguise himself, but he will not deceive the wise.

The Spendthrift and the Swallow

A Spendthrift, who had wasted his fortune, and had nothing left but
the clothes in which he stood, saw a Swallow one fine day in early
spring. Thinking that summer had come, and that he could now do
without his coat, he went and sold it for what it would fetch. A change,
however, took place in the weather, and there came a sharp
frost which killed the unfortunate Swallow. When the Spendthrift saw
its dead body he cried, "Miserable bird! Thanks to you I am perishing
of cold myself."

    One swallow does not make summer.

The old Woman and the Doctor

An Old Woman became almost totally blind from a disease of the eyes,
and, after consulting a Doctor, made an agreement with him in the
presence of witnesses that she should pay him a high fee if he
cured her, while if he failed he was to receive nothing. The Doctor
accordingly prescribed a course of treatment, and every time he paid
her a visit he took away with him some article out of the house, until
at last, when he visited her for the last time, and the cure was
complete, there was nothing left. When the Old Woman saw that the
house was empty she refused to pay him his fee; and, after repeated
refusals on her part, he sued her before the magistrates for payment
of her debt. On being brought into court she was ready with her
defence. "The claimant," said she, "has stated the facts about our
agreement correctly. I undertook to pay him a fee if he cured me, and he,
on his part, promised to charge nothing if he failed. Now, he says
I am cured; but I say that I am blinder than ever, and I can prove
what I say. When my eyes were bad I could at any rate see well enough
to be aware that my house contained a certain amount of furniture and
other things; but now, when according to him I am cured, I am entirely
unable to see anything there at all."

The Moon and her Mother

The Moon once begged her Mother to make her a gown. "How can I?"
replied she; "there's no fitting your figure. At one time you're a New
Moon, and at another you're a Full Moon; and between whiles you're
neither one nor the other."

Mercury and the Woodman

A Woodman was felling a tree on the bank of a river, when his axe,
glancing off the trunk, flew out of his hands and fell into the water.
As he stood by the water's edge lamenting his loss, Mercury appeared
and asked him the reason for his grief; and on learning what had
happened, out of pity for his distress he dived into the river and,
bringing up a golden axe, asked him if that was the one he had lost.
The Woodman replied that it was not, and Mercury then dived a second
time, and, bringing up a silver axe, asked if that was his. "No, that
is not mine either," said the Woodman. Once more Mercury dived into
the river, and brought up the missing axe. The Woodman was overjoyed
at recovering his property, and thanked his benefactor warmly; and the
latter was so pleased with his honesty that he made him a present of
the other two axes. When the Woodman told the story to his companions,
one of these was filled with envy of his good fortune and determined
to try his luck for himself. So he went and began to fell a tree at
the edge of the river, and presently contrived to let his axe drop
into the water. Mercury appeared as before, and, on learning that his
axe had fallen in, he dived and brought up a golden axe, as he had
done on the previous occasion. Without waiting to be asked whether
it was his or not the fellow cried, "That's mine, that's mine," and
stretched out his hand eagerly for the prize: but Mercury was so
disgusted at his dishonesty that he not only declined to give him the
golden axe, but also refused to recover for him the one he had let
fall into the stream.

    Honesty is the best policy.

The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion

An Ass and a Fox went into partnership and sallied out to forage for
food together. They hadn't gone far before they saw a Lion coming
their way, at which they were both dreadfully frightened. But the Fox
thought he saw a way of saving his own skin, and went boldly up to the
Lion and whispered in his ear, "I'll manage that you shall get hold of
the Ass without the trouble of stalking him, if you'll promise to let
me go free." The Lion agreed to this, and the Fox then rejoined his
companion and contrived before long to lead him by a hidden pit, which
some hunter had dug as a trap for wild animals, and into which he
fell. When the Lion saw that the Ass was safely caught and couldn't
get away, it was to the Fox that he first turned his attention, and he
soon finished him off, and then at his leisure proceeded to feast upon
the Ass.

    Betray a friend, and you'll often find you have ruined yourself.

The Lion and the Mouse

A Lion asleep in his lair was waked up by a Mouse running over his
face. Losing his temper he seized it with his paw and was about to
kill it. The Mouse, terrified, piteously entreated him to spare its
life. "Please let me go," it cried, "and one day I will repay you for
your kindness." The idea of so insignificant a creature ever being
able to do anything for him amused the Lion so much that he laughed
aloud, and good-humouredly let it go. But the Mouse's chance came,
after all. One day the Lion got entangled in a net which had been
spread for game by some hunters, and the Mouse heard and recognised
his roars of anger and ran to the spot. Without more ado it set to
work to gnaw the ropes with its teeth, and succeeded before long in
setting the Lion free. "There!" said the Mouse, "you laughed at me
when I promised I would repay you: but now you see, even a Mouse can
help a Lion."

The Crow and the Pitcher

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.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

The Boys and the Frogs

Some mischievous Boys were playing on the edge of a pond, and,
catching sight of some Frogs swimming about in the shallow water, they
began to amuse themselves by pelting them with stones, and they killed
several of them. At last one of the Frogs put his head out of the
water and said, "Oh, stop! stop! I beg of you: what is sport to you is
death to us."

The North Wind and the Sun

A dispute arose between the North Wind and the Sun, each claiming
that he was stronger than the other. At last they agreed to try their
powers upon a traveller, to see which could soonest strip him of his
cloak. The North Wind had the first try; and, gathering up all his
force for the attack, he came whirling furiously down upon the man,
and caught up his cloak as though he would wrest it from him by one
single effort: but the harder he blew, the more closely the man
wrapped it round himself. Then came the turn of the Sun. At first he
beamed gently upon the traveller, who soon unclasped his cloak and
walked on with it hanging loosely about his shoulders: then he shone
forth in his full strength, and the man, before he had gone many
steps, was glad to throw his cloak right off and complete his journey
more lightly clad.

    Persuasion is better than force

The Mistress and her Servants

A Widow, thrifty and industrious, had two servants, whom she kept
pretty hard at work. They were not allowed to lie long abed in the
mornings, but the old lady had them up and doing as soon as the cock
crew. They disliked intensely having to get up at such an hour,
especially in winter-time: and they thought that if it were not for
the cock waking up their Mistress so horribly early, they could
sleep longer. So they caught it and wrung its neck. But they weren't
prepared for the consequences. For what happened was that their
Mistress, not hearing the cock crow as usual, waked them up earlier
than ever, and set them to work in the middle of the night.

The Goods and the Ills

There was a time in the youth of the world when Goods and Ills entered
equally into the concerns of men, so that the Goods did not prevail
to make them altogether blessed, nor the Ills to make them wholly
miserable. But owing to the foolishness of mankind the Ills multiplied
greatly in number and increased in strength, until it seemed as though
they would deprive the Goods of all share in human affairs, and banish
them from the earth. The latter, therefore, betook themselves to
heaven and complained to Jupiter of the treatment they had received,
at the same time praying him to grant them protection from the Ills,
and to advise them concerning the manner of their intercourse with
men. Jupiter granted their request for protection, and decreed that
for the future they should not go among men openly in a body, and so
be liable to attack from the hostile Ills, but singly and unobserved,
and at infrequent and unexpected intervals. Hence it is that the earth
is full of Ills, for they come and go as they please and are never far
away; while Goods, alas! come one by one only, and have to travel all
the way from heaven, so that they are very seldom seen.

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares once gathered together and lamented the unhappiness of their
lot, exposed as they were to dangers on all sides and lacking the
strength and the courage to hold their own. Men, dogs, birds and
beasts of prey were all their enemies, and killed and devoured them
daily: and sooner than endure such persecution any longer, they one
and all determined to end their miserable lives. Thus resolved
and desperate, they rushed in a body towards a neighbouring pool,
intending to drown themselves. On the bank were sitting a number of
Frogs, who, when they heard the noise of the Hares as they ran, with
one accord leaped into the water and hid themselves in the depths.
Then one of the older Hares who was wiser than the rest cried out to
his companions, "Stop, my friends, take heart; don't let us destroy
ourselves after all: see, here are creatures who are afraid of us, and
who must, therefore, be still more timid than ourselves."

The Fox and the Stork

A Fox invited a Stork to dinner, at which the only fare provided was a
large flat dish of soup. The Fox lapped it up with great relish, but
the Stork with her long bill tried in vain to partake of the savoury
broth. Her evident distress caused the sly Fox much amusement. But not
long after the Stork invited him in turn, and set before him a pitcher
with a long and narrow neck, into which she could get her bill with
ease. Thus, while she enjoyed her dinner, the Fox sat by hungry and
helpless, for it was impossible for him to reach the tempting contents
of the vessel.

The Wolf in Shepp's Clothing

A Wolf resolved to disguise himself in order that he might prey upon a
flock of sheep without fear of detection. So he clothed himself in a
sheepskin, and slipped among the sheep when they were out at pasture.
He completely deceived the shepherd, and when the flock was penned
for the night he was shut in with the rest. But that very night as it
happened, the shepherd, requiring a supply of mutton for the table,
laid hands on the Wolf in mistake for a Sheep, and killed him with his
knife on the spot.

The Stag in the Ox-Stall

A Stag, chased from his lair by the hounds, took refuge in a farmyard,
and, entering a stable where a number of oxen were stalled, thrust
himself under a pile of hay in a vacant stall, where he lay concealed,
all but the tips of his horns. Presently one of the Oxen said to him,
"What has induced you to come in here? Aren't you aware of the risk
you are running of being captured by the herdsmen?" To which he
replied, "Pray let me stay for the present. When night comes I shall
easily escape under cover of the dark." In the course of the afternoon
more than one of the farm-hands came in, to attend to the wants of
the cattle, but not one of them noticed the presence of the Stag, who
accordingly began to congratulate himself on his escape and to express
his gratitude to the Oxen. "We wish you well," said the one who had
spoken before, "but you are not out of danger yet. If the master
comes, you will certainly be found out, for nothing ever escapes his
keen eyes." Presently, sure enough, in he came, and made a great to-do
about the way the Oxen were kept. "The beasts are starving," he cried;
"here, give them more hay, and put plenty of litter under them." As he
spoke, he seized an armful himself from the pile where the Stag lay
concealed, and at once detected him. Calling his men, he had him
seized at once and killed for the table.

The Milkmaid and her Pail

A farmer's daughter had been out to milk the cows, and was returning
to the dairy carrying her pail of milk upon her head. As she walked
along, she fell a-musing after this fashion: "The milk in this pail
will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter and take to
market to sell. With the money I will buy a number of eggs, and these,
when hatched, will produce chickens, and by and by I shall have quite
a large poultry-yard. Then I shall sell some of my fowls, and with the
money which they will bring in I will buy myself a new gown, which
I shall wear when I go to the fair; and all the young fellows will
admire it, and come and make love to me, but I shall toss my head
and have nothing to say to them." Forgetting all about the pail, and
suiting the action to the word, she tossed her head. Down went the
pail, all the milk was spilled, and all her fine castles in the air
vanished in a moment!

    Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.

The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat

The Dolphins quarrelled with the Whales, and before very long they
began fighting with one another. The battle was very fierce, and had
lasted some time without any sign of coming to an end, when a Sprat
thought that perhaps he could stop it; so he stepped in and tried to
persuade them to give up fighting and make friends. But one of the
Dolphins said to him contemptuously, "We would rather go on fighting
till we're all killed than be reconciled by a Sprat like you!"