We’re a little suspicious about the idea that June 4th is Aesop’s birthday. The famed Greek storyteller lived a long time ago. In fact, historians can only guess that he was born sometime between the years of 564 and 620 B.C. Getting as specific as a month is a little delusional. Still, June 4th is becoming known as Aesop’s birthday, so we’ll celebrate with three of our favorite fables from the legendary writer–whose influence is really amazing. His stories had gone all around the world in an amazing way. That’s because they’re so universal, and their morals are always valuable to kids. (There are plenty more important fables at this fine site, by the way)…
The Dog and the Shadow
A dog, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water, and took it for another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He therefore let go his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog, to get his largest piece from him. He thus lost both – that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and his own, because the stream swept it away. The moral: Don’t mistake shadow for substance (or don’t get greedy).
The Ant and the Chrysalis
An Ant nimbly running about in the sunshine in search of food came across a Chrysalis that was very near its time of change. The Chrysalis moved its tail, and thus attracted the attention of the Ant, who then saw for the first time that it was alive. “Poor, pitiable animal!” cried the Ant disdainfully. “What a sad fate is yours! While I can run hither and thither, at my pleasure, and, if I wish, ascend the tallest tree, you lie imprisoned here in your shell, with power only to move a joint or two of your scaly tail.” The Chrysalis heard all this, but did not try to make any reply. A few days after, when the Ant passed that way again, nothing but the shell remained. Wondering what had become of its contents, he felt himself suddenly shaded and fanned by the gorgeous wings of a beautiful Butterfly. “Behold in me,” said the Butterfly, “your much-pitied friend! Boast now of your powers to run and climb as long as you can get me to listen.” So saying, the Butterfly rose in the air, and, borne along and aloft on the summer breeze, was soon lost to the sight of the Ant forever. The moral: Things are often not as they seem.
The Lion and the Mouse
Once when a Lion was asleep, a little Mouse began running up and down upon him. This soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. “Pardon, O King,” cried the little Mouse: “forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?” The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. “Was I not right?” said the little Mouse. The moral: Little friends can be good friends.