Why Aesop’s Fables Are Still Humanity’s Greatest Source of Wisdom.

The Tortoise and the Hare. You know the story;

the fast, but cocky hare loses to the slow and patient tortoise solely due to his own hubris.

“brown tortoise on lawn under sunny sky” by Joel Magenta Mathey on Unsplash

The first time most people are introduced to this story is during their childhood years. The moral of the story is to never rush through anything in life, and that the winner of any race is not always the fastest. Any time I take a test or fill out a job application, I can’t help but picturing myself as the humble tortoise. The Tortoise and the Hare is one of many stories categorized under Aesop’s Fables.

We do not know much of Aesop’s origins, or that he even existed at all. What we do know was that he was a Greek man who had many stories to tell, all of them being allegorical in nature.

Anthropomorphism is a theme throughout most of Aesop’s stories. most of the stories generally revolves around two animals behaving in human-like ways. Their interactions and behaviors do well to teach lessons that would be difficult to explain otherwise. Many of Aesop’s stories are still applicable to our lives today.

For example:

One day as the Lion walked proudly down a forest aisle, and the animals respectfully made way for him, an Ass brayed a scornful remark as he passed.

The Lion felt a flash of anger. But when he turned his head and saw who had spoken, he walked quietly on. He would not honor the fool with even so much as a stroke of his claws.

Do not resent the remarks of a fool. Ignore them.

“shallow focus photograph of Lion at the wildlife” by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

In the age of Social Media, it is easy to forget that many of the opinions people have are not based on any real authority. Rather than wasting your energy on refuting other’s opinions, spend your energy on what is important to you. You will be much better off.

The Fox & the Monkey

At a great meeting of the Animals, who had gathered to elect a new ruler, the Monkey was asked to dance. This he did so well, with a thousand funny capers and grimaces, that the Animals were carried entirely off their feet with enthusiasm, and then and there, elected him their king.

The Fox did not vote for the Monkey and was much disgusted with the Animals for electing so unworthy a ruler.

One day he found a trap with a bit of meat in it. Hurrying to King Monkey, he told him he had found a rich treasure, which he had not touched because it belonged by right to his majesty the Monkey.

The greedy Monkey followed the Fox to the trap. As soon as he saw the meat he grasped eagerly for it, only to find himself held fast in the trap. The Fox stood off and laughed.

“You pretend to be our king,” he said, “and cannot even take care of yourself!”

Shortly after that, another election among the Animals was held.

The true leader proves himself by his qualities.

“black and brown chimpanzee” by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

From this story we can learn that the loudest and most extravagant among us is not always fit to be our leader. While the Monkey proved to be an astute entertainer, he was fooled quite easily by the Fox. In this torrid political climate, it is important that we examine those who wish to lead us not just by their appearances, but by the content of their character and their past deeds.

Aesop’s Fables serve as way to convey complicated and difficult ideas to a wide audience. While the whimsical imagery of animals in silly scenarios are effective to capture the attention of children, the lessons Aesop’s stories teach are timeless.

Instead of wasting a few free moments on your favorite smartphone apps, spend a few moments reading Aesop’s Fables. Like the Tortoise, your patience will surely be rewarded.

I’ve written on Quora for 2+ years. I enjoy writing about Philosophy, History, and other random things.

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