A Ploughman yoked his Ox and his Ass together, and set to work to plough his field. It was a poor makeshift of a team, but it was the best he could do, as he had but a single Ox. At the end of the day, when the beasts were loosed from the yoke, the Ass said to the Ox, “Well, we’ve had a hard day: which of us is to carry the master home?” The Ox looked surprised at the question. “Why,” said he, “you, to be sure, as usual.”
Demades the orator was once speaking in the Assembly at Athens; but the people were very inattentive to what he was saying, so he stopped and said, “Gentlemen, I should like to tell you one of AEsop’s fables.” This made every one listen intently. Then Demades began: “Demeter, a Swallow, and an Eel were once travelling together, and came to a river without a bridge: the Swallow flew over it, and the Eel swam across”; and then he stopped. “What happened to Demeter?” cried several people in the audience. “Demeter,” he replied, “is very angry with you for listening to fables when you ought to be minding public business.”
When people go on a voyage they often take with them lap-dogs or monkeys as pets to wile away the time. Thus it fell out that a man returning to Athens from the East had a pet Monkey on board with him. As they neared the coast of Attica a great storm burst upon them, and the ship capsized. All on board were thrown into the water, and tried to save themselves by swimming, the Monkey among the rest. A Dolphin saw him, and, supposing him to be a man, took him on his back and began swimming towards the shore. When they got near the Piraeus, which is the port of Athens, the Dolphin asked the Monkey if he was an Athenian. The Monkey replied that he was, and added that he came of a very distinguished family. “Then, of course, you know the Piraeus,” continued the Dolphin. The Monkey thought he was referring to some high official or other, and replied, “Oh, yes, he’s a very old friend of mine.” At that, detecting his hypocrisy, the Dolphin was so disgusted that he dived below the surface, and the unfortunate Monkey was quickly drowned.
A hungry Crow spied a Snake lying asleep in a sunny spot, and, picking it up in his claws, he was carrying it off to a place where he could make a meal of it without being disturbed, when the Snake reared its head and bit him. It was a poisonous Snake, and the bite was fatal, and the dying Crow said, “What a cruel fate is mine! I thought I had made a lucky find, and it has cost me my life!”
Some Dogs once found a lion’s skin, and were worrying it with their teeth. Just then a Fox came by, and said, “You think yourselves very brave, no doubt; but if that were a live lion you’d find his claws a good deal sharper than your teeth.”