Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
58. THE BUTCHER AND THE FLOCK
Perry 575 (Romulus
Relatives and friends who cannot agree with one another will come
to a bad end, as the following fable tells us.
Some castrated sheep had been gathered together in a flock with the rams.
Although the sheep realized that the butcher had come into the flock,
they pretended not to see him. Even when they saw one of their own seized
by the butcher's deadly hands and taken away to be slaughtered, still
the sheep were not afraid. Foolishly, they said to one another, 'He keeps
his hands off me, he keeps his hands off you; let him take whom he takes.'
In the end, there was only one sheep left. This is what he reportedly
said to the butcher when he saw that he too was about to be taken away:
'We deserve to be slaughtered one after another since we didn't realize
what was happening until it was too late. The fact is, as soon as we saw
you here in our midst, back when we were all together, we should have
killed you at once by smashing you between our horns.'
This fable shows that people who do not keep an eye out for their own
safety will be utterly destroyed by evil.
Note: This fable is strikingly similar to the 'first they came' parable
Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984): 'First they came for the Communists,
but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for
the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did
not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I
did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left
to speak out for me.'
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.