Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
132. THE BULLOCK AND THE FARMER
Perry 582 (Avianus
When a bullock resisted the harness and thwarted all efforts to place
his rugged neck beneath the clamp of the yoke, the farmer trimmed the
animal's horns with a crosswise cut of the knife and thought the animal
had thus been quieted down. Given that the beast was only too prompt with
horn and hoof, the farmer then proceeded very carefully as he hitched
the bullock's neck to an enormous plow, no doubt hoping that the long
beam would keep him from lashing out, making it hard for the cruel hooves
to land a blow. But the bullock began to struggle angrily, pushing with
his neck against the ropes and uselessly wearying the innocent earth with
his hooves. By stamping his feet he swiftly scattered the stirred-up dirt
and it was blown by a blast of wind into his master's face as he followed
the plow. The farmer then shook the dirt from his hair, which was stiff
with filth and grit. The defeated farmer groaned and said, 'I must have
needed to learn a lesson in this type of criminal behaviour in which someone
uses his intelligence simply to wreak havoc.'
Note: Compare the altogether more satisfying conclusion in Caxton
(7.21), when the frustrated farmer finally says to the bullock:
'For I shalle take the in to the bouchers handes / And thenne was the
bole wel chastysed.'
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.