FABLES OF AESOP, c. 620 –c. 560 B.C.
The Wolf and the Mastiff
A Wolf, who was almost skin and bone – so well did the dogs of the neighborhood keep guard – met, one moonshiny night, a sleek Mastiff, who was as strong as he was fat. Bidding the dog goodnight very humbly, he praised his good looks. "It would be easy for you," replied the Mastiff, "to get as fat as I am if you liked." "What shall I have to do?" asked the Wolf. "Almost nothing," answered the dog. They trotted off together, but as they went along, the Wolf noticed a bare spot on the dog's neck. "What is that mark?" asked he. "Oh, the merest trifle," answered the dog; "the collar which I wear when I am tied up is the cause of it." "Tied up!" exclaimed the Wolf, with a sudden stop. "Can you not always then run where you please?" "Well, not quite always," said the Mastiff; "but what can that matter?" "It matters much to me," rejoined the Wolf, and, leaping away, he ran once more to his native forest.
Moral: Better starve free than be a fat slave.
The Dog in the Manger
A Dog was lying in a manger full of hay. An Ox, being hungry, came near and was going to eat some of the hay. The Dog, getting up and snarling at him, would not let him touch it. "Surly creature," said the Ox, "you cannot eat the hay yourself, and yet you will let no one else have any."
Moral: People often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.
The Fox and the Grapes
A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, beguiling herself of her disappointment and saying "The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."
Moral: It is easy to despise what we cannot have.