Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
331. THE EAGLE AND THE TORTOISE IN THE AIR
Perry 230 (Babrius
There was once a slow-moving tortoise who said to the shearwaters of
the marsh and to the gulls and the wild terns, 'If only I too had been
made with wings!' An eagle spoke to her in jest and said, 'O little tortoise,
what wages would you give to me, an eagle, if I were to lift you lightly
up into the air?' 'I would give to you all the gifts that come from the
Eastern Sea,' said the tortoise. 'Well then, I will teach you,' said the
eagle. He lifted the tortoise and carried her upside down until they were
hidden in the clouds, and then he dropped her onto a mountaintop, completely
smashing the shell she wore upon her back. As she breathed her last, the
tortoise said, 'It serves me right! What use did I have for clouds or
for wings, when I already had trouble moving about on the ground!'
Note: For a quite different story about the eagle and the tortoise,
see Fable 111. The Buddhist Kacchapa - jataka
has some motifs in common with this fable: a tortoise wants to fly away
with two birds who are his friends, so the birds grip a stick between
their beaks which the tortoise clings to with his mouth, but of course
he cannot manage to keep quiet, and so he plunges to his death.
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.