Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
502. THE MAN, THE HORSE, THE OX AND THE DOG
Perry 105 (Babrius
A horse, an ox, and a dog were suffering from the cold and came to the
house of a man. The man opened his door to the animals and led them inside.
He warmed them by the hearth which was blazing with fire and placed before
them whatever there was to eat. To the horse he gave barley, to the labouring
ox he gave peas, while the dog took his place beside the man at the table
as his dinner companion. In exchange for this hospitality, the animals
surrendered to the man some of the years of life that had been allotted
to them. The horse went first, which is why each of us is inclined to
exult in our youth; the ox went next, which is why man toils away during
his middle years, devoted to his work and accumulating wealth. It was
the dog who bestowed on man his final years, at least according to the
story. This is why, Branchus, everyone becomes cranky in his old age,
only wagging his tail for the person who feeds him while barking incessantly
and snarling at strangers.
Note: Here and in the prologue to his fables, Babrius addresses a young
boy, 'Branchus,' whom he calls the son of 'King Alexander,' tentatively
identified as King Alexander of Cilicia. If this is correct, Babrius
would have lived in the second half of the first century C.E.
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.