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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 100 (Babrius 59)

The story goes that Zeus, Poseidon and Athena were arguing about who could make something truly good. Zeus made the most excellent of all animals, man, while Athena made a house for people to live in, and, when it was his turn, Poseidon made a bull. Momus was selected to judge the competition, for he was still living among the gods at that time. Given that Momus was inclined to dislike them all, he immediately started to criticize the bull for not having eyes under his horns to let him take aim when he gored something; he criticized man for not having been given a window into his heart so that his neighbour could see what he was planning; and he criticized the house because it had not been made with iron wheels at its base, which would have made it possible for the owners of the house to move it from place to place when they went travelling.

Note: An epimythium probably added by a later editor reads: 'What then does the plot of this story tell us? Try to make something, and do not let envy pass judgment on it. Nothing is entirely satisfactory to someone who is a Momus.' In Greek mythology, Momus was the archetypal fault-finder, the personification of 'blame' or 'reproach.' Parts of this fable are alluded to in Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 15.50 (the absence of a window into the heart) and in Aristotle, Parts of Animals 3.2 (the bull and his horns).

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.