Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
493. THE OLD MAN AND HIS SONS
Perry 53 (Babrius
Among the folk of days gone by, there was a very elderly gentleman who
had many sons. When he was about to reach the end of his life, the old
man asked his sons to bring to him a bundle of slender rods, if there
happened to be some lying about. One of his sons came and brought the
bundle to his father. 'Now try, with all your might, my sons, to break
these rods that have been bound together.' They were not able to do so.
The father then said, 'Now try to break them one by one.' Each rod was
easily broken. 'O my sons,' he said, 'if you are all of the same mind,
then no one can do you any harm, no matter how great his power. But if
your intentions differ from one another, then what happened to the single
rods is what will happen to each of you!'
Note: An epimythium probably added by a
later editor reads: 'Brotherly love is mankind's greatest good;
even the lowly are exalted by it.' This story was associated with a
Scythian king who supposedly shared this lesson with all eighty of his
surviving sons (see Scilurus, in Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and
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.