Aesop's Fables: Foxes, Part 2

Here you find fables about a wise fox who learns from experience (The Fox and the Lion), and also who can anticipate the unintended consequences of actions (The Fox and the Mosquitoes). There is a fable about a fox who tries to fool some other foxes (The Fox Without a Tail), along with a fable in which a fox does fool a goat.

The fable of The Fox and the Mosquitoes is one that has been traditionally applied to politicians; Aesop himself supposedly used the fable to criticize the politicians of his own time. To see how Aesop used the fable himself, see this blog post about Aesop's Speech to the People of Samos; it also has some fun illustrations for that fable.

Pay special attention to the illustration for The Fox and the Lion and The Fox and the Mosquitoes. As you can see, Walter Crane has combined the two fables together in a single page; you will see other examples of these two-fable pages in the other illustrations. Sometimes Crane combines two stories because they have a similar moral or, as in this case, because they share a common character.

[Notes by LKG]

These fables are part of the Aesop's Fables (Jacobs) unit. Story sources: The prose fables are from The Fables of Aesop by Joseph Jacobs (1894) and the limericks and illustrations are from The Baby's Own Aesop by W. J. Linton and illustrated by Walter Crane (1887).

Foxes, Part 2

Jacobs 34. The Fox and the Lion (Perry 10)

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood.

Next time, however, he came near the King of Beasts, he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by.

The third time they came near one another, the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Crane 19. The Fox and The Lion (Perry 10)

The first time the Fox had a sight
Of the Lion, he 'most died of fright;
When he next met his eye,
Fox felt just a bit shy;
But the next, quite at ease and polite.


~ ~ ~

Jacobs 64. The Fox and the Mosquitoes (Perry 427)

A Fox after crossing a river got its tail entangled in a bush, and could not move. A number of Mosquitoes seeing its plight settled upon it and enjoyed a good meal undisturbed by its tail.

A Hedgehog strolling by took pity upon the Fox and went up to him: "You are in a bad way, neighbour," said the Hedgehog; "shall I relieve you by driving off those Mosquitoes who are sucking your blood?"

"Thank you, Master Hedgehog," said the Fox, "but I would rather not."

"Why, how is that?" asked the hedgehog.

"Well, you see," was the answer, "these Mosquitoes have had their fill; if you drive these away, others will come with fresh appetite and bleed me to death."

Crane 18. The Fox and The Mosquitoes (Perry 427)

Being plagued with Mosquitoes
Said old Fox, "Pray don't send them away,
For a hungrier swarm
Would work me more harm;
I had rather the full ones should stay."


~ ~ ~

Jacobs 65. The Fox Without a Tail (Perry 17)

It happened that a Fox caught its tail in a trap, and in struggling to release himself lost all of it but the stump. At first he was ashamed to show himself among his fellow foxes. But at last he determined to put a bolder face upon his misfortune, and summoned all the foxes to a general meeting to consider a proposal which he had to place before them.

When they had assembled together the Fox proposed that they should all do away with their tails. He pointed out how inconvenient a tail was when they were pursued by their enemies, the dogs; how much it was in the way when they desired to sit down and hold a friendly conversation with one another. He failed to see any advantage in carrying about such a useless encumbrance.

"That is all very well," said one of the older foxes; "but I do not think you would have recommended us to dispense with our chief ornament if you had not happened to lose it yourself."

Distrust interested advice.

Crane 37. The Fox Without a Tail (Perry 17)

Said Fox, minus tail in a trap,
"My friends! here's a lucky mishap;
Give your tails a short lease!"
But the foxes weren't geese,
And none followed the fashion of trap.


~ ~ ~

Jacobs 82. The Fox and the Goat (Perry 9)

By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there.

"Oh, have you not heard?" said the Fox; "there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don't you come down too?"

The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well.

"Good-bye, friend," said the Fox, "remember next time: never trust the advice of a man in difficulties."

Next page: Wolves

(700 words)

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