By Kurt Borne

January 27, 2014

HareAndTortoiseOne of our great traditions growing up was reading and listening to the timeless Aesop’s Fables.

I honestly do not know if many kids today grow up learning the great lessons found in Aesop’s Fables. I certainly hope so. But if your parents weren’t able to share these with you, it’s never too late. And for those of you who are parents, maybe even you can enjoy and learn a thing or two from these ancient stories. The lessons found in them are still applicable today.

I dare say that Americans of all ages could use a little less YouTube and Facebook, a little less of the fleeting fame and fraudulence of Hollywood and reality TV, and a little more timeless wisdom like that shared by Aesop.

Aesop’s Fables have been the source of many children’s stories, cartoons, TV shows, and even movies. Ever seen the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life? That comes from age-old story, first told by Aesop, of The Ant and the Grasshopper.

Have you ever wondered where the stories of the Tortoise and the Hare or the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing originated? Yes, these are all fables by the Greek storyteller Aesop, who lived more than 2,500 years ago.

Do you ever consider where sayings that you hear your parents use, like “don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” “appearances are deceptive,” “don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” and “try to please all, and you will please none” come from? You guessed it, from Aesop’s Fables. Those are all morals learned from his stories.

And how about the very saying, “And the moral of the story is…” Yep, I’d venture to guess that that very statement is based on Aesop’s stories, because each one of the fables ends with a valuable moral.

Here are just a couple of my favorites.

The Goose with the Golden Eggs 

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Moral of the story: Greed oft o’er reaches itself.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

AntGrasshopper1“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

Moral of the story: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

NOTE: I considered linking to a website of all the fables, but honestly, when more than half a million results come up when searching “Aesop’s Fables,” you hardly need my help. However, I would urge anyone to purchase a hardcover copy of these stories. It’s a collection every American should own.