Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
495. THE CHILDREN AND THE MIRROR
Perry 499 (Phaedrus
Pay heed to this advice, and take stock of yourself regularly.
There was a man who had an extremely ugly daughter and a son who was remarkable
for his good looks. While the two of them were playing childish games,
they happened to look into a mirror which had been left lying on their
mother's armchair. The boy boasted about his beauty, and this made the
girl angry. She couldn't stand her boastful brother's jokes, since she
naturally took everything he said as a slight against herself. Spurred
by jealousy, the girl wanted to get back at her brother, so she went running
to their father and accused her brother of having touched something that
was only for women, even though he was a man. The father hugged and kissed
his children, bestowing his tender affection on them both, and said, 'I
want for you to use the mirror each and every day: you, my son, so that
you will remember not to spoil your good looks by behaving badly, and
you, my daughter, so that you will remember to compensate for your appearance
by the good quality of your character.'
Note: Compare the advice of Socrates (cited in Plutarch, Advice on
Marriage 25) that all young men should look at themselves in mirrors:
unattractive men should look at themselves in order to be prompted to
practice virtue, while good-looking men should be reminded to avoid
the disfigurement of vice.
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.