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

Perry 115 (Chambry 137 *)

The bird catcher took his birdlime and reeds and went out to catch some birds. When he saw a thrush perched up high in a tree, he set up his reeds, attaching them one to another until they were fully extended. He then stared up into the tree, intent on catching the bird, while unawares he stepped on top of a viper that was lying at his feet. The viper was enraged and bit the man. As he breathed his last, the bird catcher said, 'Woe is me! I was intent on stalking someone else, while I myself have been hunted to death by another.'
The story shows that when people plot against their neighbours, they fall victim to the same sort of plot themselves.

Note: Alciato, Emblems 105, assimilates this fable of the bird catcher to the proverbial philosopher or astronomer who looks up and does not notice what is happening at his feet (see Fable 314): 'Thus dies the man who looks up at the stars with his bow drawn taut, careless of the destiny which lies at his feet.'

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.