Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
26. THE TREES ELECT A KING
Perry 262 (Odo
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.
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.