Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
492. THE OLD BULL AND THE YOUNG BULL
Perry 540 (Phaedrus
A father had an unmanageable son who indulged his vicious adolescent
temper by brutally whipping the slaves whenever his father wasn't looking.
Aesop therefore shared this little story with the father. 'A farmer once
yoked an old bull to a young bull. The old bull tried to escape being
yoked to this mismatched partner, complaining that his strength had become
feeble with age. The farmer said to the bull, "Have no fear. I am
not doing this to make you work but so that you will keep the young bull
in check, seeing as how he has lamed many of the other bulls with his
kicking and butting." So too you must always keep that boy beside
you in order to restrain his reckless inclinations with your own moderation,
or else you will end up with even greater cause for complaint in your
A mild disposition can put a stop to vicious behaviour.
Note: Compare the English proverb, 'an old ox makes a straight furrow'
(The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs).
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.