Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
464. THE STATUE OF HERMES AND THE TREASURE
Perry 285 (Babrius
There was a craftsman who had a wooden statue of Hermes. Every day he
poured libations and made sacrifices to it, but he still wasn't able to
earn a living. The man got angry at the god so he grabbed the statue by
the leg and threw it down on the ground. The head of the statue shattered
and gold coins came pouring out from inside it. As he gathered the gold,
the man remarked, 'Hermes, you are an unlucky god, since you take no thought
for your friends. You didn't do me any good when I was treating you with
devotion, but now that I have wronged you, you give me this immense reward.
I do not understand this strange kind of cult!'
Note: An epimythium probably added by
a later editor reads: 'Aesop even involves the gods in his stories,
urging us to chastise one another: if you honour a wicked man, you will
have nothing to show for it, but by shaming him you will make a profit.'
was the god of craftsmen and merchants; for another fable about Hermes
as a god who bestows wealth, see Fable 561.
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.