A Wild Ass, who was wandering idly about, one day came upon a Pack-Ass lying at full length in a sunny spot and thoroughly enjoying himself. Going up to him, he said, “What a lucky beast you are! Your sleek coat shows how well you live: how I envy you!” Not long after the Wild Ass saw his acquaintance again, but this time he was carrying a heavy load, and his driver was following behind and beating him with a thick stick. “Ah, my friend,” said the Wild Ass, “I don’t envy you any more: for I see you pay dear for your comforts.”
Advantages that are dearly bought are doubtful blessings.
A Gardener had an Ass which had a very hard time of it, what with scanty food, heavy loads, and constant beating. The Ass therefore begged Jupiter to take him away from the Gardener and hand him over to another master. So Jupiter sent Mercury to the Gardener to bid him sell the Ass to a Potter, which he did. But the Ass was as discontented as ever, for he had to work harder than before: so he begged Jupiter for relief a second time, and Jupiter very obligingly arranged that he should be sold to a Tanner. But when the Ass saw what his new master’s trade was, he cried in despair, “Why wasn’t I content to serve either of my former masters, hard as I had to work and badly as I was treated? for they would have buried me decently, but now I shall come in the end to the tanning-vat.”
Servants don’t know a good master till they have served a worse.
A Wild Ass saw a Pack-Ass jogging along under a heavy load, and taunted him with the condition of slavery in which he lived, in these words: “What a vile lot is yours compared with mine! I am free as the air, and never do a stroke of work; and, as for fodder, I have only to go to the hills and there I find far more than enough for my needs. But you! you depend on your master for food, and he makes you carry heavy loads every day and beats you unmercifully.” At that moment a Lion appeared on the scene, and made no attempt to molest the Pack-Ass owing to the presence of the driver; but he fell upon the Wild Ass, who had no one to protect him, and without more ado made a meal of him.
It is no use being your own
master unless you can stand up for
Ants were once men and made their living by tilling the soil. But, not content with the results of their own work, they were always casting longing eyes upon the crops and fruits of their neighbours, which they stole, whenever they got the chance, and added to their own store. At last their covetousness made Jupiter so angry that he changed them into Ants. But, though their forms were changed, their nature remained the same: and so, to this day, they go about among the cornfields and gather the fruits of others’ labour, and store them up for their own use.