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  Aesop Fables Quotes

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The man and the lion a man and a lion traveled together through the forest. They soon began to boast of their respective superiority to each other in strength and prowess. As they were disputing, they passed a statue carved in stone, which represented a lion strangled by a man. The traveler pointed to it and said: see there! How strong we are, and how we prevail over even the king of beasts. The lion replied: this statue was made by one of you men. If we lions knew how to erect statues, you would see the man placed under the paw of the lion. One story is good, till another is told. (quote by - aesop)

The shepherd and the wolf a shepherd once found the whelp of a wolf and brought it up, and after a while taught it to steal lambs from the neighboring flocks. The wolf, having shown himself an apt pupil, said to the shepherd, since you have taught me to steal, you must keep a sharp lookout, or you will lose some of your own flock. (quote by - aesop)

The laborer and the snake a snake, having made his hole close to the porch of a cottage, inflicted a mortal bite on the cottager's infant son. Grieving over his loss, the father resolved to kill the snake. The next day, when it came out of its hole for food, he took up his axe, but by swinging too hastily, missed its head and cut off only the end of its tail. After some time the cottager, afraid that the snake would bite him also, endeavored to make peace, and placed some bread and salt in the hole. The snake, slightly hissing, said: there can henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever i see you i shall remember the loss of my tail, and whenever you see me you will be thinking of the death of your son. No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him who caused the injury. (quote by - aesop)

The mountain in labor a mountain was once greatly agitated. Loud groans and noises were heard, and crowds of people came from all parts to see what was the matter. While they were assembled in anxious expectation of some terrible calamity, out came a mouse. Don't make much ado about nothing. (quote by - aesop)

The charcoal-burner and the fuller a charcoal-burner carried on his trade in his own house. One day he met a friend, a fuller, and entreated him to come and live with him, saying that they should be far better neighbors and that their housekeeping expenses would be lessened. The fuller replied, the arrangement is impossible as far as i am concerned, for whatever i should whiten, you would immediately blacken again with your charcoal. Moral: like will draw like. (quote by - aesop)

The pomegranat, apple-tree and bramble the pomegranate and apple-tree disputed as to which was the most beautiful. When their strife was at its height, a bramble from the neighboring hedge lifted up its voice, and said in a boastful tone: pray, my dear friends, in my presence at least cease from such vain disputings. (quote by - aesop)

The traveler and his dog a traveler about to set out on a journey saw his dog stand at the door stretching himself. He asked him sharply: why do you stand there gaping? Everything is ready but you, so come with me instantly. The dog, wagging his tail, replied: o, master! I am quite ready; it is you for whom i am waiting. The loiterer often blames delay on his more active friend. (quote by - aesop)

The widow and the sheep a certain poor widow had one solitary sheep. At shearing time, wishing to take his fleece and to avoid expense, she sheared him herself, but used the shears so unskillfully that with the fleece she sheared the flesh. The sheep, writhing with pain, said, why do you hurt me so, mistress? What weight can my blood add to the wool? If you want my flesh, there is the butcher, who will kill me in an instant; but if you want my fleece and wool, there is the shearer, who will shear and not hurt me. The least outlay is not always the greatest gain. (quote by - aesop)

The fox and the monkey a monkey once danced in an assembly of the beasts, and so pleased them all by his performance that they elected him their king. A fox, envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and leading the monkey to the place where it was, said that she had found a store, but had not used it, she had kept it for him as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold of it. The monkey approached carelessly and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing the fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied, o monkey, and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be king over the beasts? (quote by - aesop)

Jupiter and the monkey jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest and promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be deemed the handsomest. The monkey came with the rest and presented, with all a mother's tenderness, a flat-nosed, hairless, ill-featured young monkey as a candidate for the promised reward. A general laugh saluted her on the presentation of her son. She resolutely said, i know not whether jupiter will allot the prize to my son, but this i do know, that he is at least in the eyes of me his mother, the dearest, handsomest, and most beautiful of all. (quote by - aesop)

The raven and the swan a raven saw a swan and desired to secure for himself the same beautiful plumage. Supposing that the swan's splendid white color arose from his washing in the water in which he swam, the raven left the altars in the neighborhood where he picked up his living, and took up residence in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he would, he could not change their color, while through want of food he perished. Change of habit cannot alter nature. (quote by - aesop)

The fox and the crow a crow having stolen a bit of meat, perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded. How handsome is the crow, he exclaimed, in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the queen of birds! This he said deceitfully; but the crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the crow: my good crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting. (quote by - aesop)

The cat and the birds a cat, hearing that the birds in a certain aviary were ailing dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking his cane and a bag of instruments becoming his profession, went to call on them. He knocked at the door and inquired of the inmates how they all did, saying that if they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them and cure them. They replied, we are all very well, and shall continue so, if you will only be good enough to go away, and leave us as we are. (quote by - aesop)

The thirsty pigeon a pigeon, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders. Zeal should not outrun discretion. (quote by - aesop)

The farmer and his sons a father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, my sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards. The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop. (quote by - aesop)

The goat and the goatherd a goatherd had sought to bring back a stray goat to his flock. He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention to the summons. At last the goatherd threw a stone, and breaking its horn, begged the goat not to tell his master. The goat replied, why, you silly fellow, the horn will speak though i be silent. Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hid. (quote by - aesop)

The astronomer an astronomer used to go out at night to observe the stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning what had happened said: hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?'. (quote by - aesop)

The frogs asking for a king the frogs, grieved at having no established ruler, sent ambassadors to jupiter entreating for a king. Perceiving their simplicity, he cast down a huge log into the lake. The frogs were terrified at the splash occasioned by its fall and hid themselves in the depths of the pool. But as soon as they realized that the huge log was motionless, they swam again to the top of the water, dismissed their fears, climbed up, and began squatting on it in contempt. After some time they began to think themselves ill-treated in the appointment of so inert a ruler, and sent a second deputation to jupiter to pray that he would set over them another sovereign. He then gave them an eel to govern them. When the frogs discovered his easy good nature, they sent yet a third time to jupiter to beg him to choose for them still another king. Jupiter, displeased with all their complaints, sent a heron, who preyed upon the frogs day by day till there were none left to croak upon the lake. (quote by - aesop)

The old man and death an old man was employed in cutting wood in the forest, and, in carrying the faggots to the city for sale one day, became very wearied with his long journey. He sat down by the wayside, and throwing down his load, besought death to come. Death immediately appeared in answer to his summons and asked for what reason he had called him. The old man hurriedly replied, that, lifting up the load, you may place it again upon my shoulders. (quote by - aesop)

The boy hunting locusts a boy was hunting for locusts. He had caught a goodly number, when he saw a scorpion, and mistaking him for a locust, reached out his hand to take him. The scorpion, showing his sting, said: if you had but touched me, my friend, you would have lost me, and all your locusts too! (quote by - aesop)

The charger and the miller a charger, feeling the infirmities of age, was sent to work in a mill instead of going out to battle. But when he was compelled to grind instead of serving in the wars, he bewailed his change of fortune and called to mind his former state, saying, ah! Miller, i had indeed to go campaigning before, but i was barbed from counter to tail, and a man went along to groom me; and now i cannot understand what ailed me to prefer the mill before the battle. Forbear, said the miller to him, harping on what was of yore, for it is the common lot of mortals to sustain the ups and downs of fortune. (quote by - aesop)

The shepherd's boy and the wolf a sheperd boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, wolf! Wolf! And when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The wolf, however, did truly come at last. The shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: pray, do come and help me; the wolf is killing the sheep; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock. There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth. (quote by - aesop)

The mischievous dog a dog used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he met, and to bite them without notice. His master suspended a bell about his neck so that the dog might give notice of his presence wherever he went. Thinking it a mark of distinction, the dog grew proud of his bell and went tinkling it all over the marketplace. One day an old hound said to him: why do you make such an exhibition of yourself? That bell that you carry is not, believe me, any order of merit, but on the contrary a mark of disgrace, a public notice to all men to avoid you as an ill mannered dog. Notoriety is often mistaken for fame. (quote by - aesop)

The horse and groom a groom used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for his own profit. Alas! Said the horse, if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more. (quote by - aesop)

The farmer and the cranes some cranes made their feeding grounds on some plowlands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any notice of it and would not move. The farmer, on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great number. The remaining birds at once forsook his fields, crying to each other, it is time for us to be off to liliput: for this man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show us in earnest what he can do. If words suffice not, blows must follow. (quote by - aesop)


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