Aesop's Fables

by Aesop

Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables is a collection of tales by the Greek storyteller Aesop. Most of the tales included here were translated and edited by Reverend George Fyler Townsend (1814-1900) in England and published under the title, Aesop's Fables. Townsend's translations were influential on many subsequent collections of fables. Some of the tales included here were taken from the book How to Tell Stories to Children and Some Stories To Tell, by Sara Cone Bryant and published in London in 1918. In some cases, we have included both Townsend's version and Bryant's version of the same tale.

Source: This book was compiled by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology and includes passages from multiple sources. Please refer to the passage pages for further source information.

“The Ant and the Grasshopper”
The ants have plenty. The grasshopper is starving. He begs for food. The ants point out that he could have stored up food for winter.
“Avaricious and Envious”
Two neighbors were in constant competition with each other, so Jupiter granted them a wish to teach them a lesson.
“The Bald Man and the Fly”
A fly torments a bald man who slaps his head trying to kill the fly. The fly escapes the slap and once again torments him. This time feeling wiser the man does not slap his head.
“The Bat and the Weasels”
A bat uses whatever best choice he has at the time to save himself from predators.
“The Bats, the Birds, and the Beasts”
The beasts and the birds are preparing for a conflict. Each group invites the bat to join with them. After the conflict is settled the bat wishes to be friends but neither group will have him.
“The Bear and the Fox”
A bear and a fox have different views of the bear’s attitude towards what he eats.
“Belling the Cat”
The mice want to be safe from their enemy, the cat. One mouse had an idea to put a bell on the cat to warn the mice when the cat was near.
“The Belly and the Members”
The parts of the body feel they are working very hard and the belly is not. They decide to stop working until the belly works harder. The consequences of this decision gave the body parts an important lesson on teamwork.
“The Boy Hunting Locusts”
It’s the intention rather than the action that makes a good choice.
“The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’”
A shepherd boy falsely cries “wolf” twice just to get excitement from the villiage people, but when a real wolf comes and he cries “wolf” again, no one comes to his rescue. moral: no one believes a liar even when he tells the truth.
“The Bundle of Sticks”
A father teaches his sons the value of working together.
“The Cat-Maiden”
Jupiter and Venus argue if a living being can change its nature. Jupiter changes a cat into a maiden and has her marry. Venus lets loose a mouse during the wedding to see how she reacts. The maiden pounces on the mouse.
“The Charcoal-Burner and the Fuller”
Two friends decide not to move in together because of their very opposite professions.
“The Crow and the Pitcher”
A thirsty Crow found a pitcher with very little water which he could not reach. He was able to quench his thirst and save his life in an innovative way.
“The Dog and the Shadow”
A fable about a dog who attacks his own shadow to get a larger piece of meat
“The Dog and the Wolf”
A starving Wolf is encouraged to come home with the Dog where he could work and be well fed. However, the Wolf would also be collared and chained. The Wolf decides he would rather be free and hungry than chained and well fed.
The Dog in the Manger
A dog won’t allow oxen to eat the hay upon which the dog is resting.
“The Donkey and the Grasshopper”
A donkey wishing to sing like the grasshoppers inquires about their diet. To sing like them he changes his diet to theirs and perishes.
“The Donkey in the Lion’s Skin”
A donkey disguised himself as a lion and was found out when he brayed.
“The Donkey, the Fox, and the Lion”
When a lion threatens to eat the fox and the donkey, the fox betrays his companion in an effort to rescue himself. In the end, the one who tried to keep himself out of danger was the first to be eaten.
“The Farmer and the Cranes”
First a farmer chases cranes out of his field. When they keep returning he shoots rocks at them with a sling shot. If words don’t work you must fight.
“The Farmer and the Snake”
A fable about a farmer who cares for a snake that then turns to bite him
“The Father and His Sons”
A fable about a father whose sons were not able to get along.
“The Fawn and His Mother”
A young fawn asks his mother why she is afraid of barking hounds. He points out how much faster, larger, and well armed with horns she is. Her answer shows her lack of courage.
“The Fisher and the Little Fish”
After fishing all day a fisherman has ony caught a tiny fish. The Fish begs to be put back in the water. The fisherman does not do so.
“The Flies and the Honeypot”
Flies are drawn to spilled honey. After over-eating they find they cannot pull their feet out of the honey and fly away. When you are greedy, you may not know when you have enough and pay a very high price.
“The Four Oxen and the Lion”
The importance of working together, even through disagreements.
“The Fox and the Cat”
A Fox was boasting to a Cat of his hundred ways of excaping enemies. When they heard a pack of houds coming the Cat ran up a tree and hid. The Fox though of many ways to escape, and while he debated the hounds caught him and the hungers killed him.
“The Fox and the Crow”
After telling Mistress Crow how much he admires her, Master Fox is able to trick her into dropping her meal. Master Fox snaps it up and eats it. Mistress Crow learns a hard lesson about insincere compliments.
“The Fox and the Grapes”
A Fox wants a bunch of Grapes to quench his thirst. He jumps to reach them several times. He is not able to reach them. As he leaves he decideds the grapes are probably sour and he wouldn’t like them anyway.
“The Fox and the Lion”
The Fox saw the Lion and was terribly frightened. Next time he watched from a safe distance. The third time he passed the time of day with the Lion.
“The Fox and the Mosquitoes”
A Fox got its tail tangled in a bush and could not move. A number of Mosqitoes began biting the trapped Fox. A hedgehog offered to drive the mosqitoes away, but the fox refused.
“The Fox and the Stork”
The Fox served the Stork soup in a shallow dish. The Stork could not lap it up. The Stork served the Fox dinner in a long-necked jar into which the Fox could not lap. Does one bad turn deserve another?
“The Fox, the Rooster, and the Dog”
A Fox saw a Rooster sitting high beyond his reach in a hen-coop. He began to talk to the Rooster saying that King Lion had declared no beast may hurt a bird but all must live in friendship. When he saw a Dog coming toward him he ran saying the Dog may not have heard of King Lion’s decree.
“The Fox Without a Tail”
A Fox caught its tail in a trap and lost it. He felt ashamed. To feel better he asked the other foxes to do away with their tails.
The Frog and the Ox
A frog in an attempt to prove he is bigger than an ox blows himself up until he bursts. Be careful about how great you need to be. It can lead to your demise.
The Frog and the Ox
A fable about a big frog and a little frog that teaches how self-conceit leads to self-destruction.
“The Goose with the Golden Eggs”
A countryman found an egg in a Goose nest which proved to be solid gold. The countryman became weathy selling the continuous supply of golden eggs the Goose laid. Soon he grew greedy and thinking to get all the gold at once, he killed the Goose. He found nothing inside the Goose.
“The Hare and the Tortoise”
The Hare boasted of never being beaten in a race. The Tortoise accepted this challenge. The Hare stopped during the race for a nap and woke to find the Tortise about to cross the finish line.
“The Hart and the Hunter”
The Hart admires his antlers and dislikes his slim and slight legs. When escaping from a hunter, his legs swiftly carry him away, but his antlers get caught in a tree. This allows the hunter to come up on him. Sometimes we don’t appreciate what is most important. What is most valuable, the beautiful antlers or the skinny legs?
“The Hart in the Ox-Stall”
An animal being chased by hounds hids in the hay in a barn. When the hunters come into the barn they are told by the stable boys that they could see nothing. Shortly afterwards the master came in. He saw something unusual. He asked what the things sticking out of the hay might be. The Hart was discovered and done away with. Moral: Nothing escapes the eye of the master.
“Hercules and the Wagoner”
A carter prayed for help when his wagon became stuck. Hercules gave him some advice about helping himself and praying.
“Hercules and the Waggoner”
A Waggoner’s wheels sank deep into the mud. The horses could not pull it out. He prayed to Hercules for help. Hercules told him to help himself by helping the horses pull.
“The Herdsman and the Lost Bull”
A herdsman loses a calf. He bargains with the deities. He will sacrifice a lamb if they will help him find the calf. Next he discovers a lion eating his calf and adds a full-grow bull to the sacrifice just to escape the lion with his own life.
“The Horse, Hunter, and Stag”
A Horse and Stag quarreled. The Horse asked a Hunter to help him catch the Stag. The Horse agreed to wear a bridle and saddle to help the Hunter help him. After catching the Stag the Hunter would not take the bridle and saddle off.
“The Jay and the Peacock”
A Jay ties peacock feathers to his tail to appear more grandiose. The peacocks plucked away the feathers. The jays would not accept him back saying it takes more than fine feathers to make fine birds.
“The Kingdom of the Lion”
The king of beasts, the Lion, makes an effort to bring peace between all of the birds and beasts over which he has reign. Having completed his ruling, one of the animals has a comment. This fable has a surprise ending.
“The Labourer and the Nightingale”
A man who loved the Nightingale’s song set a trap for it and captured it. Since nightingales never sing in cages the man decided to eat it. The Nightingale bargained not to be eaten and to be set free. In return he would tell the man 3 things far bettter than eating him.
The Lion and the Mouse
The Lion wakes as a mouse runs across his face. He caught the mouse who begs to be let go with a promise to help the Lion someday. Later, the Lion is captured by hunters. The mouse gnaws the rope and sets the Lion free.
The Lion and the Mouse
A little Mouse wakened a sleeping Lion. Just as the Lion was about to eat the Mouse the Mouse cried out that he should be spared. Someday he might be able to do a good turn for the Lion. The Lion let the Mouse go. Much later, when the Lion was trapped the mouse gnawed the ropes holding him.
“The Lion and the Statue”
A Man and a Lion talked about the strength of men and lions. Each believed his species was stronger. The Man showed the Lion a statue of Hercules overcoming the Lion. The Lion believed this proved nothing because a man made the statue.
“The Lion in Love”
A lion goes to extremes to be allowed to marry the maiden he loves.
“The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts”
Seeing that the Lion appeared to be dying, a Goat, Sheep, and a Calf came to receive the last wishes of the Lord of Beasts. Soon the Lion seemed to recover and saw a Fox. He asked why the fox did not come to pay his respects. The Fox responded that he saw hoof-marks going into the Lion’s cave and none coming out.
“The Man and His Two Wives”
A man’s two wives each want his hair a different way.
“The Man and the Lion”
A Man and a Lion each boast of their strength. Upon seeing a statue of a Man strangling a Lion the Man points out how strong man is. The Lion replies that if the statue had been made by Lions Man would be under the Lion’s paw.
“The Man and the Satyr”
A Man lost in a wood on a cold night was promised lodging for the night by the Satyr. The Satyr asked the Man why kept blowing on his hands. The Man replied that his breath warmed them. Once home with the Satyr he was given a hot bowl of food. He raised the spoonful and blew on it. The Satyr asked why he was now blowing on the food. The man replied that he was cooling the food which was too hot. Immediately the Satyr threw him out because he would not have anything to do with a person who could blow hot and cold.
“The Man and the Serpent”
A man takes revenge on a serpent that killed his son by cutting his tail. The serpent takes revenge on the man by killing his cattle. When both are satisfied with their revenge, the man tries to be friends with the serpent, but the serpent cannot forgive the loss of his tail. Moral: Injuries may be forgiven, but not forgotten.
“The Man and the Wood”
A Man with an axe begged the Trees for a branch. The good-natured Trees gave him one of their branches. The man fixed it into the axe and began cutting down trees.
“The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey”
A Man and his son were going to market with their Donkey. One countryman who saw them told them a donkey was to ride upon, another countryman said the father ought to ride not the son, some women thought the boy shouldn’t have to walk, and then passerbys jeered at them for overloading the Donkey so. After thinking hard the Man and his son tied the Donkey to a pole and began to carry him. The Donkey ended up falling over a bridge and drowning. An old man who had seen all of this pointed out that in trying to please everyone they had pleased no one.
“The Milkmaid and Her Pail”
Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying milk in a Pail on her head. She began thinking of what she would do with the money she would get for the milk. She dreamed of a new frock and hat. She imagined tossing her head which caused her to toss her head back. The Pail fell off, the milk was spilt, and she had to tell her mother what she had done.
“The Miser and His Gold”
Once a Miser hid his gold at the foot of a tree. Every week he would dig it up and delight in how much was there. A robber noticed, dug up the gold, and took it away. When the Miser discovered his gold was gone a neighbor told him to come look at the hole in the ground as it would do just as much good as looking at the gold.
“The Mole and His Mother”
The Mole, naturally blind from birth, believes he can see with his eyes. His mother provides him with a lesson involving more than his eyesight.
“The Mountain in Labor”
A mountain was making groans and noises. Crowds came to see what was the matter. When they saw the answer they thought: Don’t make much ado about nothing.
“The Nurse and the Wolf”
A wolf overhears a child’s Nurse threaten to throw him out the window if he cries. The child cries, but when the Nurse sees the wolf she calls the dogs to chase the disappointed wolf away. The moral being, “Enemies’ promises were made to be broken.”
“The Peacock and Juno”
A peacock asked Juno for a beautiful voice in addition to beautiful feathers. Being Juno’s favorite bird didn’t seem enough. However, the voice was not granted.
“The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat”
A pig has reason to cry out.
“The Pomegranate, Apple-Tree, and Bramble”
Every thing would like to be thought of as greater in the world than it is, and it first thinks itself so.
“The Rooster and the Pearl”
The Rooster uncovers a precious pearl beneath the hay in the barnyard. Knowing it was a treasure in the world of people, he was not excited about what he had found for himself.
“The Raven and the Swan”
A raven tries to be something he is not.
“The Salt Merchant and His Donkey”
A donkey learns a lesson.
“The Serpent and the File”
A Serpent takes his anger out on a file which scratched him. He could do not harm and had to give up his anger.
“The Sick Lion”
As a Lion lay dying his subjects drew near. When the lion seemed on the point of death several animals decided to pay him off for old grudges. Moral: Only cowards insult dying majesty.
“The Swallow and the Crow”
A swallow and a crow argue about the value of their feathers.
“The Swallow and the Other Birds”
A country man sows hemp seeds and a swallow warns the birds to eat all the seeds up, the birds did not take the swallow’s advice and the seeds grew into a net of cords that caught the birds. Moral: destroy evil before it destroys you.
“The Tortoise and the Eagle”
A turtle who wishes to fly is destroyed when the wish is fulfilled. As the turtle is dying the realization comes that we should be careful what we wish for.
“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”
The Town Mouse visits the Country Mouse. The food was different from what the Town Mouse was used to. He complained and invited the Country Mouse to visit him in the city. During the Country Mouse’s visit he was frightened by his experiences. He decided it was better to eat poorly and be comfortably safe than eat richly and be afraid for one’s life.
“The Traveler and His Dog”
The Traveler is ready to leave on the journey when he sees his Dog in the doorway stretching. He snaps at the dog to get ready, blaming the dog for delaying them. Moral: The one who is late sometimes blames the tardiness on others who are already ready.
“The Tree and the Reed”
A boastful tree makes fun of a lowly reed but is blown to the ground by a hurricane. The reed is flexible in the wind and survives. Moral: obscurity often brings safety.
“The Two Crabs”
A mother crab was teaching her young one how to walk when he told her to follow her own plan and show him. Why would he say that?
“The Two Fellows and the Bear”
Two Fellows were traveling through a wood. A Bear rushed out upon them. One traveler hid himself among the leaves of a branch from a tree. The other threw himself on the ground. The Bear after much sniffing walked away. The fellow in the tree asked what Master Bruin whispered. His friend answered, “Never trust a friend who deserts you at a pinch.”
“The Two Pots”
A strong pot and a fragile pot are afloat in a stream, and if the stream’s currents should cause them to bump each other, the fragile pot will be hurt.
“The Wolf and the Crane”
A Wolf hired a Crane to put her head into his mouth and draw out a bone stuck in his throat. When the Crane demanded payment the Wolf told her she was already rewarded for escaping his jaws.
“The Wolf and the Kid”
A Kid perched on top of a house saw a Wolf passing by. He began to shout angrily at the Wolf. Moral: It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.
“The Wolf and the Lamb”
A Wolf looks for an excuse to justify eating a lamb. The lamb wouldn’t give the Wolf satisfaction, so the wolf ate the lamb anyway.
“The Wind and the Sun”
The Wind and Sun argued about who was stronger. They decided whichever could cause a traveler to take off his cloak would be seen as stronger. The Wind blew and the traveler wrapped his cloak more tightly around himself. The Sun shone and soon the traveler found it to hot to walk with his cloak on.
“The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”
This story gave rise to the idiom: “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” A wolf covers himself with a sheepskin so he can hide in a herd of sheep. His plan is to get close to a sheep so he can attack successfully.
“The Woodman and the Serpent”
A Woodman took a Serpent that appeared to be dead home to warm it. As the Serpent came to life again a child reached out to touch it. The Serpent was about to sting the child when the Woodman cut the Serpent in two.
The Dog in the Manger
A dog makes a bed out of an ox’s straw-filled manger. Enraged when the ox returns and awakens him from his nap, the dog barks and bites at the ox, not allowing him to have his straw.
  • Year Published: 2012
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 5.3
  • Word Count: 11,549
  • Genre: Fable
  • Keywords: traditional stories, traditional stories traditional stories
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