Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
440. THE FARMER AND THE FROZEN VIPER
Perry 176 (Babrius
A farmer picked up a viper that was half-dead from the cold. When the
farmer had warmed the viper, the viper uncoiled and grabbed hold of the
man's hand and with a fatal bite, he killed the man who had wanted to
save him. As he was dying, the man spoke some words that are well worth
remembering: 'Well, I got what I deserve for having shown kindness to
Note: The farmer's self-rebuke is typical of the Aesopic fable tradition:
the point of the story is not the viper's wicked decision to bite the
man, but the man's own foolish decision to have picked up the viper
in the first place. Compare the Roman proverb, 'you're nurturing a snake
in your bosom' (Petronius,
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.