Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
138. THE BIRD CATCHER AND THE VIPER
Perry 115 (Chambry
The bird catcher took his birdlime and reeds and went out to catch some
birds. When he saw a thrush perched up high in a tree, he set up his reeds,
attaching them one to another until they were fully extended. He then
stared up into the tree, intent on catching the bird, while unawares he
stepped on top of a viper that was lying at his feet. The viper was enraged
and bit the man. As he breathed his last, the bird catcher said, 'Woe
is me! I was intent on stalking someone else, while I myself have been
hunted to death by another.'
The story shows that when people plot against their neighbours, they
fall victim to the same sort of plot themselves.
Emblems 105, assimilates this fable of the bird catcher to the proverbial
philosopher or astronomer who looks up and does not notice what is happening
at his feet (see Fable 314): 'Thus dies the man
who looks up at the stars with his bow drawn taut, careless of the destiny
which lies at his feet.'
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.