The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion

One of Aesop’s fables (205 in Chambry, 258 in Perry), found in Erasmus’ Adage 114 concerning Malum Consilium (Bad Advice) and the proverb malum consilium consultori pessimum (bad advice is especially bad for the adviser) where he describes it as non invenustus nec omnino indignus (not uncharming and not altogether unworthy). The full text is here but too long for me to translate. This translation is the Oxford Classics by Laura Gibbs.

The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion.

The lion had grown old and sick and was lying in his cave. All the animals, except for the fox, had come to visit their king. The wolf seized this opportunity to denounce the fox in front of the lion, complaining that the fox showed no respect for the lion, who was the common master of them all. Indeed, the fox had not even come to pay the ailing lion a visit! The fox arrived just in time to hear the end of the wolf’s speech. The lion roared at the fox, but the fox asked for a chance to explain herself. ‘After all,’ said the fox, ‘which one of all the animals assembled here has helped you as I have, travelling all over the world in order to seek out and discover from the doctors a remedy for your illness?’ The lion ordered the fox to describe the remedy immediately, and the fox replied, ‘You must flay a living wolf and wrap yourself in his skin while it is still warm.’ When the wolf had been killed, the fox laughed and said, ‘It is better to put your master in a good mood, not a bad one.’
The story shows that someone who plots against others falls into his own trap.

Λέων καὶ λύκος καὶ ἀλώπηξ.

Λέων γηράσας ἐνόσει κατακεκλιμένος ἐν ἄντρῳ. Παρῆσαν δ’ ἐπισκεψόμενα τὸν βασιλέα, πλὴν ἀλώπεκος, τἄλλα τῶν ζώων. Ὁ τοίνυν λύκος λαβόνενος εὐκαιρίας κατηγόρει παρὰ τῷ λέοντι τῆς ἀλώπεκος, ἅτε δὴ παρ’ οὐδὲν τιθέμενης τὸν πάντων αὐτῶν κρατοῦντα, καὶ διὰ ταῦτα μηδ’ εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν ἀφιγμένης. Ἐν τοσούτῳ δὲ παρῆν καὶ ἡ ἀλώπηξ, καὶ τῶν τελευταίων ἠκροάσατο τοῦ λύκου ῥημάτων.Ὁ μὲν οὖν λέων κατ’ αὐτῆς ἐβρυχᾶτο. Ἡ δ’ ἀπολογίας καιρὸν αἰτήσασα· “Καὶ τίς σε, ἐφη, τῶν συνελθόντων τοσοῦτον ὠφέλησεν ὅσον ἐγώ, πανταχόσε περινοστήσασα, καὶ θεραπείαν ὑπὲρ σοῦ παρ’ ἰατρῶν ζητήσασα καὶ μαθοῦσα;” Τοῦ δὲ λέοντος εὐθὺς τὴν θεραπείαν εἰπεῖν κελεύσαντος, ἐκείνη φησίν· .”Εἰ λύκον ζῶντα ἐκδείρας τὴν αὐτοῦ δορὰν θερμὴν ἀμφιέσῃ.” Καὶ τοῦ λύκου αὐτίκα νεκροῦ κειμένου, ἡ ἀλώπηξ γελῶσα εἶπεν οὕτως· “Οὐ χρὴ τὸν δεσπότην πρὸς δυσμένειαν παρακινεῖν, ἀλλὰ πρὸς εὐμένειαν.” Ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ ὅτι ὁ καθ’ ἑτέρου μηχανώμενος καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν μηχανὴν περιτρέπει.

One thought on “The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s