Aesop’s Fables; are they still applicable today?

I finished Aesop’s Fables about a week ago, and I’ve been waiting for the opportune moment to blog about it. And thus, this fine summery day seemed rather perfect for folktales. Aesop was a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BC, but as I’ll talk about later on in this post, since some of the fables morally contradict each other and have overlapping meanings/stories, it’s more likely that Aesop’s Fables were just a mish-mash/conglomeration of stories that eventually were gathered together under the name of Aesop; either because Aesop was a man who actually took the time to chronicle all of these stories, or perhaps he didn’t even exist at all.

But let’s go on to some of the stories. Of course, many of these have been popularized through our cultural upbringing; I guarantee that if you read through Aesop’s fables, you would find at least two that you remember from your childhood/current cultural references (I had no idea that the tale of the Boy who Cried Wolf was so old!). Interesting, huh, that some stories/moral ideas can survive for thousands of years. And that some have faded from popularity.

It was some of these not-so-popular ones that interested me; I really actually enjoyed reading them more, because 1. I had not known these fables before, and 2. It’s more interesting to me to see what moral values we’ve left to the side over the ones that have continued. So I present to you, dear lovely readers, my favorite 2 fables: The Two Pots, and The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner.

Okay, so the Two Pots, to be short, is about two pots, one is made of clay and one of metal. The metal pot wants the two pots to stay together (strength in numbers is his assumed motive), whilst the clay pot wants the metal pot to stay far and away, saying that if the metal pot were to bang into the clay pot, the clay pot would be the only one to suffer the consequences. The story ends with the moral: the strong and the weak cannot keep company.

I think this is an interesting fable because whilst I think that it is true that the strong and weak will have a very hard time keeping company, a lot of modern cultural ideas are based on the idea of unity, a single body, a chain, that everyone is included and no one is left out. But, like always, the problem with having everyone is that not everyone is 100% passionate or able. And that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. And while we like to think of the able-bodied hero being able to save the weaker damsel in distress or the innocent citizen, inevitably, the power of the strong can do harm to the weak.

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner is a fable about a trumpeter in an army who is captured by enemy troops. He pleads for his life and for mercy from his enemies, reasoning that because he doesn’t have weapons, he has never killed an enemy in his life and is innocent of all bloodshed. But the enemy returns with the logic that his trumpet is just as deadly, because it “stirs the others into the battle”. Therefore, the moral of the fable being that “words are as good as action.”

I think that while we like to think we support this idea nowadays, with social media being what it is and the right to privacy quickly vanishing, words mean almost nothing. The value of a promise has dwindled down to being nearly “meaningless”. I think this is a lesson that more people should take to heart, whether it’s what they post online or what they say behind other people’s backs, we need to be more careful about what we say, and weigh the weight of our words as heavily as our actions. Just because we are allowed to blow our mouths off about something doesn’t always mean we should.

How about you, what’s your favorite fable?

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About Angela

Editor, bookbinder, and writer.

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