Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
482. THE MAN, THE FLEA AND HERACLES
Perry 231 (Chambry
A flea once jumped up onto a man's foot and sat there. The man called
upon Heracles to aid him in his struggle. When the flea finally jumped
off, the man groaned and said, 'O Heracles, if you refused to help me
to defeat this flea, how will you exert yourself on my behalf against
more powerful enemies?'
The story shows that we should not call upon the gods in trivial affairs
but only in dire necessity.
Note: This motif was proverbial: 'calling on the gods because of the
bite of a flea' (see Erasmus, Adages 3.4.4). In other versions of this
story (included in Chambry's first edition of the Greek fables), the
man is said to be an athlete who expects Heracles to help him defeat
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.