Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)
170. MERCURY AND TIRESIAS (Perry 89)
Mercury had a great Mind to try if Tiresias was so Famous a Diviner as
the World took him for, or not. So he went and stole Tiresias's Oxen;
and order'd the Matter to be in the Company of Tiresias, as upon Business
by the Bye, when the News should be brought him of the Loss of his Oxen.
Mercury went to Tiresias in the Shape of a Man; and the Tidings came as
Mercury had contriv'd it: Upon this, he took Mercury up to a high Tower,
hard by, and bad him look well about him, and tell him what Birds he saw.
Why, says Mercury, I see an Eagle upon Wing there, that takes her Course
from the Right-hand to the Left. That Eagle (says Tiresias) is nothing
to our Purpose; wherefore pray look again once. Mercury stood Gazing a
while, and then told Tiresias of a Crow he had discover'd upon a Tree,
that was one while looking up into the Air, and another while down towards
the Ground: That's enough (says Tiresias) for this Motion of the Crow,
is as much as to say, I do Appeal to Heaven, and to Earth, that the Man
that is now with Tiresias, can help him to his Oxen again if he pleases.
THE MORAL. This Fable is of a General Application to all Bold and Crafty
Thieves and impostors. It serves also to set forth the Vanity of Wizards,
Fortune-Tellers, and the like.
L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a
very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir
Roger L'Estrange. Aesop
- Fables which is available at amazon.com.