Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
498. THE DOG AND THE LAMB AMONG THE GOATS
Perry 506 (Phaedrus
A dog met a lamb who was bleating among the she-goats and said, 'You
fool, your mother is not here.' As he spoke, the dog pointed to a separate
flock of sheep grazing in the distance. 'I do not want that mother!' said
the lamb. 'She conceives when it is her pleasure, carries her unknown
burden for a certain number of months, and in the end she simply lets
go and plops her bundle on the ground. No, I am looking for the mother
who offers me her udder and feeds me, and even cheats her own children
of milk so that I will not go hungry.' 'Still, the one who gave birth
to you is more important,' said the dog. 'Not correct,' replied the lamb.
'Was it some great favour that she brought me into the world when I might
expect the arrival of the butcher at any moment? Could she even be certain
whether I would be born black or white? And if perhaps she would have
preferred a girl, what would she have thought of me, since I am a boy?
Given that she took no decision in the matter of my conception, why should
I now prefer that mother to the mother who took pity on me as I was lying
there and who freely offers me her sweet affection?'
Parents are determined by love, not fate.
Note: There are an additional two lines sometimes printed with the
poem which most editors reject as spurious. Those lines read: 'With
this poem the author wanted to show that people resist laws but are
favourably inclined to acts of good will.'
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.