Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
518. MOMUS AND THE GODS
Perry 100 (Babrius
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
Parts of Animals 3.2 (the bull and his horns).
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.