Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wisdom from Aesop

Learning from Aesop’s Fables:

Now that I have a “smart phone”, I find myself exploring the free offerings of various e-book readers that I have installed on it as “apps”. Generally, you have free access to classic literature that has had the copyright expire and they are considered in the public domain. Some apps also give you free samples of books to entice you to buy them.
But, you can find lots of free stories and many others for a few dollars, without having to pay best-seller prices for them, too. One free offering I downloaded along with Ivanhoe, Treasure Island and The Secret Garden, was a collection of Aesop’s Fables. I hadn’t read those fables since I was a kid so it seemed interesting to me to re-read them as an adult.

Not into e-books? Fine, check your local library or just “google” Aesop’s fables and you will find collections of stories, as well as more info about Aesop, and other folkloric traditions on the net in the comfort of your living room.

Besides the fact that I really, really, love having access to several books at my fingertips on my smart phone, I rather enjoyed reading those fables again. Any one of these stories could provide a nice beginning for thoughtful discussion on a multitude of subjects, and these simple fables have been around for generations.

For the seeking mind there is always food for thought or some nugget of knowledge to be gleaned from reading and re-reading a variety of books, including these fables. Here are a few things that seemed worth remembering as I went through those old fables again:

The Wolf and the Lamb…..the wolf makes every ridiculous excuse in the world to justify the fact that he wants to eat the lamb for dinner, even after they come to a so called agreement.

“The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.”

The story rather reminded me of how our government seems to be acting now-a-days.
(Strip searches at the airport anyone???)

There is lots of good advice for daily living in those fables too! Most of the tales use animal characters to tell a simple story about right and wrong, pride, the value of work, making the best of your lot in life, etc. messages that I feel are sorely needed today! More gems…..

“It is wise to turn circumstance to good account.”

“The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.”

“No arguments will give courage to the coward.”

“Fair weather friends are not worth much.”

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

“If men had all they wished, they would often be ruined.”

“Look before you leap.”

“Do not attempt to hide things which cannot be hidden.”

“He is wise who is warned by the misfortune of others.”

“Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.”

“Whatever you do, do with all your might.”

“Those who seek to please everybody, please nobody.”

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.”

The Fox and the Grapes

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

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."

Backround information wiki:

Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller supposed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today. Many of the stories, such as The Fox and the Grapes (from which the idiom "sour grapes" derives), The Tortoise and the Hare, The North Wind and the Sun, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Ant and the Grasshopper are well-known throughout the world.

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