The Wolf and the Crane
A Wolf once got a bone stuck in his throat. So he went to a Crane and begged her to put her long bill down his throat and pull it out. "I'll make it worth your while," he added. The Crane did as she was asked, and got the bone out quite easily. The Wolf thanked her warmly, and was just turning away, when she cried, "What about that fee of mine?" "Well, what about it?" snapped the Wolf, baring his teeth as he spoke; "you can go about boasting that you once put your head into a Wolf's mouth and didn't get it bitten off. What more do you want?"
"In serving the wicked, expect no reward and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains."
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, sir, 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.
"Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through."
The Wolf in Sheep'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.
"Harm seek, harm find."
Aesop, like Uncle Remus and other fabulists (and many children's book authors), used animals to show human behavior. Charles Santore's illustrations of animals show "some particular aspect of the human condition" and are featured in "Aesop's Fables" (dilithium Press ltd., 1988, and Sterling Children's Books, 2010, for Kohl's Cares charity).
Santore was inspired by English writer G. K. Chesterton, who wrote that animals "have no choice, they cannot be anything but themselves." Without critical thinking human nature is animal nature.
|Charles Santore reimagines Aesop, "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."|
The Donkey (Ass) in the Lion's Skin
An Ass found a Lion's Skin, and dressed himself up in it. Then he went about frightening everyone he met, for they all took him to be a lion, men and beasts alike, and took to their heels when they saw him coming. Elated by the success of his trick, he loudly brayed in triumph. The Fox heard him, and recognized him at once for the Ass he was, and said to him, "Oh, my friend, it's you, is it? I, too, should have been afraid if I hadn't heard your voice."
"No disguise will hide one's true character."
The uncredited text in this children's book appears to be from the 105-year-old translation of Aesop's fables by Vernon Jones. Thank the internet, gutenberg.org and collective critical thinkers for perpetuating the lessons and universal truths of Aesop. Check out this exquisite site with sometimes weird fables (many requiring some forgiveness by the reader in remembering they were written in 600 BCE and translated in 1912).
In the long list of fables at this site, this non-anthropomorphic one appears just before the wolf-and-goose story (file art from 1908 is not by Santore):
The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner
A Trumpeter marched into battle in the van of the army and put courage into his comrades by his warlike tunes. Being captured by the enemy, he begged for his life, and said, "Do not put me to death; I have killed no one: indeed, I have no weapons, but carry with me only my trumpet here." But his captors replied, "That is only the more reason why we should take your life; for, though you do not fight yourself, you stir up others to do so."
"Words may be deeds."
More than a century ago Chesterton compares Aesop with America's Uncle Remus, noting the storytelling connection of slaves, teachers and students, including the Brothers Grimm, in educating generations of people throughout the centuries. Chesterton warns against hubris and narcissism in the introduction to Vernon Jones's translation: "Whether fables began with Aesop or began with Adam, whether they were German and medieval as Reynard the Fox, or as French and Renaissance as La Fontaine, the upshot is everywhere essentially the same: that superiority is always insolent, because it is always accidental; that pride goes before a fall; and that there is such a thing as being too clever by half."
Even short fables can have profound meanings. Simple stories can illustrate discoveries of the philosophers and inform leaders' insights.
In "Red Scorpion: The War Patrols of USS Rasher," author Peter Sasgen describes the submarine's CO Capt. Willard Ross Laughon, who had attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1929 to 1933. He was well-read and had "dissertations from Aesop's Fables to Kant, expounded with cold logic and heated interest, with an admirable choice of words."