Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
112. THE EAGLE AND THE CROW
Perry 490 (Romulus Ang.
The eagle was strolling beside the sea one day, intending to go fishing.
She didn't catch any fish, but she did come across a shell, and inside
the shell was a tortoise. She snatched the tortoise up in her talons and
flew to a beach, where she planned to feast on her catch, turning the
tortoise to good use by dint of her own efforts. But when the eagle went
to eat the tortoise, the shell protected the tortoise from her talons
and beak. Although the eagle struggled with the shell for some time, her
efforts were in vain: she couldn't get at the tortoise no matter how hard
she tried. A crow then happened along and saw the eagle hopelessly trying
to open the shell. The eagle was on the verge of giving up when the crow
approached her and said, 'That is food fit for a king. By no means should
it be tossed away!' 'Alas,' said the eagle, 'the container which holds
it cannot be breached, as you see; the sides are all smooth, and my efforts
are going to waste.' The crow then said to the eagle, 'If you will agree
to divide the spoils with me, I will show you the way to open it up.'
'Tell me how!' said the eagle, 'then you and I will enjoy this feast together.'
The tricky crow said, 'What you must do is fly up high in the sky. Then,
when you find yourself far above some rocky shore, release the container
from the grip of your talons so that it falls through the air and strikes
against the rocks. The shell will be forced open, no longer protecting
the tortoise inside, and you will be able to satisfy all your desires.'
The eagle agreed and, following the crow's instructions, she flew up in
the air and let the tortoise drop from her talons. Below, the crow was
there waiting for the tortoise to fall. As soon as the tortoise reached
the ground, the crow snatched it for herself and thus deceived the hungry
The moral: In this way, tricksters can deceive people who are unsuspecting,
and by means of these tricks they are able to accomplish what brute force
Note: L'Estrange provides a pointed
epimythium: 'Charity begins at home, they say; and most People are kind
to their Neighbours for their own sakes.'
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.