Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
557. AESOP AND THE SHIPBUILDERS
Perry 8 (Chambry
Aesop the storyteller had nothing in particular to do, so he strolled
into the workshop of some shipbuilders. The workers began to taunt Aesop,
provoking him to speak, so Aesop replied with this old story. 'Once upon
a time,' said Aesop, 'there was only Chaos and Water. God then wanted
to make a new element emerge, Gaia, the Earth. So he ordered the Earth
to swallow the sea in three gulps. Earth did as she was ordered: the first
gulp caused the mountains to appear, and the second gulp caused the plains
to be revealed. And if she decides to take a third gulp,' said Aesop,
'that will be the end of all you shipbuilders and your entire profession!'
This story shows that people are asking for trouble if they make fun
of someone who is better than they are.
Note: This fable is also found in Aristotle,
Meteorologica 2.3, with two notable differences: in Aristotle, Aesop
tells the story in anger to a ferryman, not shipbuilders, and it is
not Earth but Charybdis, the monstrous whirlpool of Greek mythology,
who drinks the waters.
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.