Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
496. THE THIEF AND HIS MOTHER
Perry 200 (Chambry
A boy who was carrying his teacher's writing tablet stole it and brought
it triumphantly home to his mother who received the stolen goods with
much delight. Next, the boy stole a piece of clothing, and by degrees
he became a habitual criminal. As the boy grew older and became an adult,
he stole items of greater and greater value. Time passed and the man was
finally caught in the act and taken off to court where he was condemned
to death: woe betide the trade of the thief! His mother stood behind him,
weeping as she shouted, 'My son, what has become of you?' He said to his
mother, 'Come closer, mother, and I will give you a final kiss.' She went
up to him, and all of a sudden he bit her nose, tugging at it with his
teeth until he cut it clean off. Then he said to her, 'Mother, if only
you had beaten me at the very beginning when I brought you the writing
tablet, then I would not have been condemned to death!'
This is what the story tells us: if you are wise, you will tear out
vice by the roots, in other words, at the very beginning of sinfulness
and other wickedness, so that the severing of the root will cause the
branches to wither away.
Note: In other versions of this story (included in Chambry's first
edition of the Greek fables), the son bites off his mother's ear, rather
than her nose.
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.