Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
473. THE FARMER AND HIS MATTOCK
Perry 295 (Babrius
A farmer had lost his mattock while digging in the vineyard. He checked
to see if any of the bystanders had taken it, but each of them denied
it. Not knowing what to do, he brought everyone to the city, intending
to make them swear a solemn oath (country folk being convinced that only
simple-minded gods live in the countryside, unlike the real gods who live
inside the city walls, observing everything that happens). They entered
through the city gates and put down their packs in order to wash their
feet at a well. Then they heard a herald shouting that a thousand drachmas
was being offered as a reward for information about property which had
been stolen from the god. When the farmer heard this, he said, 'I have
come on a fool's errand! How can this god know anything about other thieves,
when he can't even find the crooks who stole his own stuff. A god -- but
he has to offer a reward to find out if any human being knows what happened!'
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.