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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 63 (Chambry 96)

The orator Demades was trying to address his Athenian audience. When he failed to get their attention, he asked if he might tell them an Aesop's fable. The audience agreed, so Demades began his story. 'The goddess Demeter, a swallow, and an eel were walking together down the road. When they reached a river, the swallow flew up in the air and the eel jumped into the water.' Demades then fell silent. The audience asked, 'And what about the goddess Demeter?' 'As for Demeter,' Demades replied, 'she is angry at all of you for preferring Aesop's fables to politics!'
So it is that foolish people disregard important business in favour of frivolities.

Note: Demades (d. 319 B.C.E.) was an Athenian orator and diplomat. Demeter was a Greek agricultural goddess and was of special importance to the Athenians because of the cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries (see Fable 559).

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.