Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
523. THE THIEF AND THE LAMP
Perry 513 (Phaedrus
A thief lit his lamp from the altar of Jupiter and then robbed the god
by the light of his own fire. When he left, laden with the spoils of sacrilege,
holy Religion herself suddenly began to speak, 'Although those gifts were
the offerings of wicked man and therefore hateful to me (so that I am
in no way offended by their theft), you will nevertheless pay for this
with your life, you villain, when the day of your assigned punishment
arrives! However, so that our fire -- this fire which the pious employ
in their worship of the awesome gods -- may never serve to illuminate
the path of crime, I hereby forbid all such traffic in light.' This is
why even today one may no longer light a lamp from the flame that is sacred
to the gods, nor is it permitted to use a lamp to light the sacred fire.
Only the author who devised this story, and no on else, can explain
to you how many useful lessons it contains. First of all, it shows that
someone that you yourself have supported often proves to be your worst
enemy; second, it shows that crimes are not punished by the wrath of the
gods but only at the time that is decreed by the Fates; finally, it forbids
good people to have anything in common with evil-doers.
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.