Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
451. THE BEAVER AND HIS TESTICLES
Perry 118 (Phaedrus
There is an animal whose name in English is 'beaver' (although those
garrulous Greeks -- so proud of their endless supply of words! -- call
him castor, which is also the name of a god). It is said that when the
beaver is being chased by dogs and realizes that he cannot outrun them,
he bites off his testicles, since he knows that this is what he is hunted
for. I suppose there is some kind of superhuman understanding that prompts
the beaver to act this way, for as soon as the hunter lays his hands on
that magical medicine, he abandons the chase and calls off his dogs.
If only people would take the same approach and agree to be deprived
of their possessions in order to live lives free from danger; no one,
after all, would set a trap for someone already stripped to the skin.
Note: This strange legend of the beaver's self-castration is attested
in the Greek and Roman natural history writers (e.g., Aelian, Characteristics
of Animals 6.34 and Pliny,
Natural History 8.109). For a fable about the god Castor referred
to here, see Fable 166.
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.