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 Aesop Quotes
158 Famous Quotes by Aesop
- (Present)
Also Known As:  
Asop     Esopee     Isope
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About 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.

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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.

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The Farmer and the Stork A farmer placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a Stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the Farmer to spare his life. Pray save me, Master, he said, and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers-- they are not the least like those of a Crane. The Farmer laughed aloud and said, It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company. Birds of a feather flock together.

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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.

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The Swallow and the Crow The Swallow and the Crow had a contention about their plumage. The Crow put an end to the dispute by saying, Your feathers are all very well in the spring, but mine protect me against the winter. Fair weather friends are not worth much.

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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.

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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.

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The Flies and the Honey-Pot A number of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been overturned in a housekeeper's room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves. Pleasure bought with pains, hurts.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Fox and the Goat A fox one day fell into a deep well and could find no means of escape. A Goat, overcome with thirst, came to the same well, and seeing the Fox, inquired if the water was good. Concealing his sad plight under a merry guise, the Fox indulged in a lavish praise of the water, saying it was excellent beyond measure, and encouraging him to descend. The Goat, mindful only of his thirst, thoughtlessly jumped down, but just as he drank, the Fox informed him of the difficulty they were both in and suggested a scheme for their common escape. If, said he, you will place your forefeet upon the wall and bend your head, I will run up your back and escape, and will help you out afterwards. The Goat readily assented and the Fox leaped upon his back. Steadying himself with the Goat's horns, he safely reached the mouth of the well and made off as fast as he could. When the Goat upbraided him for breaking his promise, he turned around and cried out, You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape. Look before you leap.

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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.

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The Oxen and the Axle-Trees A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; whereupon the Oxen, turning round, thus addressed the wheels: Hullo there! why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out. Those who suffer most cry out the least.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Miser A miser sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and went to look at daily. One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot and decided to watch his movements. He soon discovered the secret of the hidden treasure, and digging down, came to the lump of gold, and stole it. The Miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his hair and to make loud lamentations. A neighbor, seeing him overcome with grief and learning the cause, said, Pray do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the gold is still lying there. It will do you quite the same service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did not make the slightest use of it.

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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.

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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.

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The Ass and the Lapdog A man had an Ass, and a Maltese Lapdog, a very great beauty. The Ass was left in a stable and had plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass would. The Lapdog knew many tricks and was a great favorite with his master, who often fondled him and seldom went out to dine without bringing him home some tidbit to eat. The Ass, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding the corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the Lapdog, till at last one day he broke his cords and halter, and galloped into his master's house, kicking up his heels without measure, and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried to jump about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, but he broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The servants, hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his stable with kicks and clubs and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned to his stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: I have brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not wish to be idle all the day like that useless little Lapdog!

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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.

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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.

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The Cat and the Cock A cat caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable excuse for eating him. He accused him of being a nuisance to men by crowing in the nighttime and not permitting them to sleep. The Cock defended himself by saying that he did this for the benefit of men, that they might rise in time for their labors. The Cat replied, Although you abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless; and he made a meal of him.

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The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat A young pig was shut up in a fold-yard with a Goat and a Sheep. On one occasion when the shepherd laid hold of him, he grunted and squeaked and resisted violently. The Sheep and the Goat complained of his distressing cries, saying, He often handles us, and we do not cry out. To this the Pig replied, Your handling and mine are very different things. He catches you only for your wool, or your milk, but he lays hold on me for my very life.

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