Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
54. THE WATER-SNAKE, THE VIPER AND THE FROGS
Perry 90 (Chambry
There was a viper who used to go to a certain spring in order to drink
but he was driven away by a water-snake who was furious that the viper
would not just stay on his own turf instead of encroaching on the water-snake's
territory. Their dispute grew more and more fierce and finally the two
of them decided to fight it out, agreeing that both the water and the
land would be awarded to the winner. When the day for the fight had been
decided, the frogs came to the viper and, since they hated the water-snake,
they offered to be his allies and come to his aid during the battle. But
when the battle began and the viper grappled with the water-snake, the
frogs just sat there croaking, since they were not able to do anything
else. In the end, the viper was victorious but he was furious with the
frogs since they had failed to come to his aid as they had promised and,
what was worse, they had sat there singing songs while he was doing battle.
The frogs then said to the viper, 'But you should have known that we had
nothing to offer you except the sound of our voices!'
The fable shows that when you need someone to lend a hand, mere words
are no help at all.
Note: For a fable about the enmity between the frogs and the water-snake,
see Fable 27.
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.