Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
THE BIRD CATCHER, THE PARTRIDGE AND THE ROOSTER
Perry 361 (Babrius
A bird catcher received an unexpected visit from a friend just as he
was about to dine on a simple meal of herbs and parsley. Since he hadn't
actually caught anything lately, the bird‑cage was empty, so the man
decided to slaughter a speckled partridge that he had tamed to use as
a decoy. The partridge begged the bird catcher not to kill him, “My dear
man, how will you hunt with your net in the future? Who will assemble
that flock of gregarious, keen‑eyed birds on your behalf? And who will
serenade you with singing as you drift off to sleep?” The bird catcher
let go of the partridge, and decided to kill the bearded rooster instead.
The rooster, however, let out a squawk from his perch and said, “If you
kill me, how will you know how much longer it is until dawn, since I
am the one who tells you the time? How will you know that Orion with
his golden bow is on watch during the night? Who will remind you of the
morning's work, announcing the dew on the birds' outstretched wings?”
The man said, “It is useful indeed to know what time it is, but all the
same, my friend has to have something to eat!”
Note: The constellation Orion, one of the brightest stars in the night
sky, was imagined by the Greeks to be a hunter armed with weapons, engaged
in a perpetual battle with the constellation of Scorpio.
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.