Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
332. THE BEETLE IN THE AIR
Perry 650 (Romulus
There was a beetle who came forth fully sated from his dung heap and
saw an eagle flying high up in the air, crossing a great stretch of the
sky in a brief stretch of time. The beetle then felt contempt for his
own way of life and declared to his fellow beetles, 'Look at that eagle,
who is so swift on the wing and so strongly built, equipped with such
a savage beak and talons! If she wants, she can soar up to the clouds
and plunge downwards as fast as she likes. Meanwhile, we beetles suffer
from a sorry state of affairs, being not quite bugs and not quite birds.
But my voice is no less pleasant than the eagle's cry, and her sheen does
not outshine my own. I will not crawl around in the dung any more! From
now on I will consort with the birds and fly around with them everywhere,
joining their society!' The beetle then rose into the sky, emitting a
song that was nothing more than a loathsome sort of buzzing. As he tried
to follow the eagle into the upper air, he was unable to endure the strong
winds. He fell to the ground, shaken and exhausted, far away from his
home. Facing starvation, the sad beetle said, 'I don't care if they call
me a bug or a bird, if only I can get back home to my dung heap!'
Disaster awaits the arrogant person who puts on airs: he will fail
to get promoted and will lose his former position as well.
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.