Fable: The Cat and Venus
A CAT fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the
youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her
habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much
disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.
Moral: Class conventions are a weapon against social mobility.
Fable: The Ass and His Masters
AN ASS, belonging to an herb-seller who gave him too little food and too much work made a petition to Jupiter to be released from his present service and provided with another master. Jupiter,
after warning him that he would repent his request, caused him to be sold to a tile-maker. Shortly afterwards, finding that he had heavier loads to carry and harder work in the brick-field, he
petitioned for another change of master. Jupiter, telling him that it would be the last time that he could grant his request, ordained that he be sold to a tanner. The Ass found that he had
fallen into worse hands, and noting his master’s occupation, said, groaning: “It would have been better for me to have been either starved by the one, or to have been overworked by the
other of my former masters, than to have been bought by my present owner, who will even after I am dead tan my hide, and make me useful to him.”
Moral: Demanding better working conditions will be met with punishment.
Fable: The Crab and the Fox
A CRAB, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green meadow as its feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and being very hungry ate him up. Just as he was on the point of being eaten, the Crab said, “I well deserve my fate, for what business had I on the land, when by my nature and habits I am only adapted for the sea?’
Moral: Be content with your lot in life, or else.
Fable: The Wild Ass and the Lion
A WILD ASS and a Lion entered into an alliance so that they might capture the beasts of the forest with greater ease. The Lion agreed to assist the Wild Ass with his strength, while the Wild Ass gave the Lion the benefit of his greater speed. When they had taken as many beasts as their necessities required, the Lion undertook to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it
into three shares. “I will take the first share,” he said, “because I am King: and the second share, as a partner with you in the chase: and the third share (believe me) will be a source
of great evil to you, unless you willingly resign it to me, and set off as fast as you can.”
Morality: The powerful will do anything to retain their position.
Fable: 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.”
Moral: There are collaborators in every movement.
Fable: 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.”
Moral: Throw rocks at birds.