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

Perry 233 (Chambry 174)

They say that swans sing when they are about to die. A certain man chanced upon a swan that was for sale and bought him, since he had heard that swans sing very beautifully. At the man's next dinner party, he came and got the swan, expecting that the bird would serenade his guests at dinner. The swan, however, was completely silent. Later on, when the swan realized that he was about to die, he began to sing his funeral dirge. When his owner heard him, he said, 'Well, if you are going to sing this song only at the moment of your death, then I was a fool for having commanded you to do it. I should have ordered you to be butchered instead!'
Some people are the same way: they will agree to do things under compulsion that they are not willing to do as a favour.

Note: The 'swan song' was a famous legend of ancient Greece and Rome (Plato, Phaedo 85a, contains a discussion of the reason why swans supposedly sing at the moment of their death; Pliny, Natural History 10.32, claims to have conducted certain 'experiments' disproving this phenomenon). For another fable with the swan song motif, see Fable 303.

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.