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

Perry 582 (Avianus 28)

When a bullock resisted the harness and thwarted all efforts to place his rugged neck beneath the clamp of the yoke, the farmer trimmed the animal's horns with a crosswise cut of the knife and thought the animal had thus been quieted down. Given that the beast was only too prompt with horn and hoof, the farmer then proceeded very carefully as he hitched the bullock's neck to an enormous plow, no doubt hoping that the long beam would keep him from lashing out, making it hard for the cruel hooves to land a blow. But the bullock began to struggle angrily, pushing with his neck against the ropes and uselessly wearying the innocent earth with his hooves. By stamping his feet he swiftly scattered the stirred-up dirt and it was blown by a blast of wind into his master's face as he followed the plow. The farmer then shook the dirt from his hair, which was stiff with filth and grit. The defeated farmer groaned and said, 'I must have needed to learn a lesson in this type of criminal behaviour in which someone uses his intelligence simply to wreak havoc.'

Note: Compare the altogether more satisfying conclusion in Caxton (7.21), when the frustrated farmer finally says to the bullock: 'For I shalle take the in to the bouchers handes / And thenne was the bole wel chastysed.'

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.