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  Aesop Fables Quotes

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The oxen and the butchers the oxen once upon a time sought to destroy the butchers, who practiced a trade destructive to their race. They assembled on a certain day to carry out their purpose, and sharpened their horns for the contest. But one of them who was exceedingly old (for many a field had he plowed) thus spoke: these butchers, it is true, slaughter us, but they do so with skillful hands, and with no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death: for you may be assured, that though all the butchers should perish, yet will men never want beef. Do not be in a hurry to change one evil for another. (quote by - aesop)

The sick lion a lion, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was. I am very middling, replied the lion, but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me. No, thank you, said the fox. I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but i see no trace of any returning. He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others. (quote by - aesop)

The bear and the fox a bear boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that of all animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had such respect for him that he would not even touch his dead body. A fox hearing these words said with a smile to the bear, oh! That you would eat the dead and not the living. (quote by - aesop)

The boasting traveler a man who had traveled in foreign lands boasted very much, on returning to his own country, of the many wonderful and heroic feats he had performed in the different places he had visited. Among other things, he said that when he was at rhodes he had leaped to such a distance that no man of his day could leap anywhere near him as to that, there were in rhodes many persons who saw him do it and whom he could call as witnesses. One of the bystanders interrupted him, saying: now, my good man, if this be all true there is no need of witnesses. Suppose this to be rhodes, and leap for us. (quote by - aesop)

The huntsman and the fisherman a huntsman, returning with his dogs from the field, fell in by chance with a fisherman who was bringing home a basket well laden with fish. The huntsman wished to have the fish, and their owner experienced an equal longing for the contents of the game-bag. They quickly agreed to exchange the produce of their day's sport. Each was so well pleased with his bargain that they made for some time the same exchange day after day. Finally a neighbor said to them, if you go on in this way, you will soon destroy by frequent use the pleasure of your exchange, and each will again wish to retain the fruits of his own sport. Abstain and enjoy. (quote by - aesop)

Hercules and the wagoner a carter was driving a wagon along a country lane, when the wheels sank down deep into a rut. The rustic driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to hercules to come and help him. Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him: put your shoulders to the wheels, my man. Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain. Self-help is the best help. (quote by - aesop)

The ants and the grasshopper the ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The ants inquired of him, why did you not treasure up food during the summer?' he replied, i had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing. They then said in derision: if you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter. It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow. (quote by - aesop)

The ant and the grasshopper in a field one summer's day a grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. Why not come and chat with me, said the grasshopper, instead of toiling and moiling in that way? I am helping to lay up food for the winter, said the ant, and recommend you to do the same. Why bother about winter? Said the grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present. But the ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the grasshopper knew: it is best to prepare for the days of necessity. (quote by - aesop)

The wolf in sheep's clothing once upon a time a wolf resolved to disguise his appearance in order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the shepherd by his costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure. But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night to obtain meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the wolf instead of a sheep, and killed him instantly. Harm seek. Harm find. (quote by - aesop)

The lioness a controversy prevailed among the beasts of the field as to which of the animals deserved the most credit for producing the greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously into the presence of the lioness and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute. And you, they said, how many sons have you at a birth?' the lioness laughed at them, and said: why! I have only one; but that one is altogether a thoroughbred lion. The value is in the worth, not in the number. (quote by - aesop)

The fir-tree and the bramble a fir-tree said boastingly to the bramble, you are useful for nothing at all; while i am everywhere used for roofs and houses. The bramble answered: 'you poor creature, if you would only call to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew you down, you would have reason to wish that you had grown up a bramble, not a fir-tree. Better poverty without care, than riches with. (quote by - aesop)

The mole and his mother a mole, a creature blind from birth, once said to his mother: i am sure than i can see, mother! In the desire to prove to him his mistake, his mother placed before him a few grains of frankincense, and asked, what is it?' the young mole said, it is a pebble. His mother exclaimed: my son, i am afraid that you are not only blind, but that you have lost your sense of smell. (quote by - aesop)

The bear and the two travelers two men were traveling together, when a bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the bear had whispered in his ear. He gave me this advice, his companion replied. Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger. Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. (quote by - aesop)

The mouse, the frog, and the hawk a mouse who always lived on the land, by an unlucky chance formed an intimate acquaintance with a frog, who lived for the most part in the water. The frog, one day intent on mischief, bound the foot of the mouse tightly to his own. Thus joined together, the frog first of all led his friend the mouse to the meadow where they were accustomed to find their food. After this, he gradually led him towards the pool in which he lived, until reaching the very brink, he suddenly jumped in, dragging the mouse with him. The frog enjoyed the water amazingly, and swam croaking about, as if he had done a good deed. The unhappy mouse was soon suffocated by the water, and his dead body floated about on the surface, tied to the foot of the frog. A hawk observed it, and, pouncing upon it with his talons, carried it aloft. The frog, being still fastened to the leg of the mouse, was also carried off a prisoner, and was eaten by the hawk. Harm hatch, harm catch. (quote by - aesop)

The boy and the nettles a boy was stung by a nettle. He ran home and told his mother, saying, although it hurts me very much, i only touched it gently. That was just why it stung you, said his mother. The next time you touch a nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk to your hand, and not in the least hurt you. Whatever you do, do with all your might. (quote by - aesop)

The tortoise and the eagle a tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. I will give you, she said, all the riches of the red sea. I will teach you to fly then, said the eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: i have deserved my present fate; for what had i to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?' if men had all they wished, they would be often ruined. (quote by - aesop)

The two dogs a man had two dogs: a hound, trained to assist him in his sports, and a housedog, taught to watch the house. When he returned home after a good day's sport, he always gave the housedog a large share of his spoil. The hound, feeling much aggrieved at this, reproached his companion, saying, it is very hard to have all this labor, while you, who do not assist in the chase, luxuriate on the fruits of my exertions. The housedog replied, do not blame me, my friend, but find fault with the master, who has not taught me to labor, but to depend for subsistence on the labor of others. Children are not to be blamed for the faults of their parents. (quote by - aesop)

The farmer and the snake one winter a farmer found a snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. Oh, cried the farmer with his last breath, i am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel. The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful. (quote by - aesop)

The bat and the weasels a bat who fell upon the ground and was caught by a weasel pleaded to be spared his life. The weasel refused, saying that he was by nature the enemy of all birds. The bat assured him that he was not a bird, but a mouse, and thus was set free. Shortly afterwards the bat again fell to the ground and was caught by another weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him. The weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice. The bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat, and thus a second time escaped. It is wise to turn circumstances to good account. (quote by - aesop)

The belly and the members the members of the body rebelled against the belly, and said, why should we be perpetually engaged in administering to your wants, while you do nothing but take your rest, and enjoy yourself in luxury and self-indulgence?' the members carried out their resolve and refused their assistance to the belly. The whole body quickly became debilitated, and the hands, feet, mouth, and eyes, when too late, repented of their folly. (quote by - aesop)

The dog in the manger a dog lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping prevented the oxen from eating the hay which had been placed for them. What a selfish dog! Said one of them to his companions; he cannot eat the hay himself, and yet refuses to allow those to eat who can. (quote by - aesop)

The lion in love a lion demanded the daughter of a woodcutter in marriage. The father, unwilling to grant, and yet afraid to refuse his request, hit upon this expedient to rid himself of his importunities. He expressed his willingness to accept the lion as the suitor of his daughter on one condition: that he should allow him to extract his teeth, and cut off his claws, as his daughter was fearfully afraid of both. The lion cheerfully assented to the proposal. But when the toothless, clawless lion returned to repeat his request, the woodman, no longer afraid, set upon him with his club, and drove him away into the forest. (quote by - aesop)

The hare and the tortoise a hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the tortoise, who replied, laughing: though you be swift as the wind, i will beat you in a race. The hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue. Slow but steady wins the race. (quote by - aesop)

The boys and the frogs some boys, playing near a pond, saw a number of frogs in the water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of them, when one of the frogs, lifting his head out of the water, cried out: pray stop, my boys: what is sport to you, is death to us. (quote by - aesop)

The crab and its mother a crab said to her son, why do you walk so one-sided, my child? It is far more becoming to go straight forward. The young crab replied: quite true, dear mother; and if you will show me the straight way, i will promise to walk in it. The mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child. Example is more powerful than precept. (quote by - aesop)


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