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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 262 (Odo 1)

The trees came together so that they could anoint a king to rule over them. 'Please be our ruler,' they said to the olive tree. The olive tree said in reply, 'Why would I abandon the richness of my oil, which is valued by both gods and mortals, in order to become the leader of the trees?' They came to the fig tree and said, 'Agree to rule over us.' The fig tree answered, 'Why would I relinquish my sweetness and delightful fruit in order to become the leader of the trees?' They came to the vine, hoping that the vine might rule over them, but the vine answered, 'Why would I relinquish the wine which brings joy both to God and to mankind?' And so the vine refused to be their leader. The trees then said to the thorn bush, 'Rule over us.' The thorn bush replied, 'If indeed you have resolved to make me your king, come and rest under my shadow, and if you refuse, a fire will come forth from the thorn bush and devour the cedars of Lebanon!'

Note: This fable comes from the Hebrew Bible, Judges 9:8 and it became part of the Aesopic tradition only in the Middle Ages. The version cited here is the opening story in Odo's thirteenth-century Latin collection of Aesopic fables; in the Greek tradition, the fable of the trees is found in a Byzantine collection which probably dates to the fifteenth century.

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.