Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
297. THE BIRDS, THE BIRD CATCHER AND HIS TEARS
Perry 576 (Romulus
Our author warns us with the following fable that we should never
fail to heed a wise man's advice.
It was springtime and various species of birds were sitting happily in
their nests, hidden among the branches. They happened to notice a bird
catcher who was assembling his reeds, coating the long rod with birdlime.
When they saw that the man had tears in his eyes, those ignorant and foolish
birds began to say to one another, 'We can see that this man must be extremely
kind, since his great sensitivity makes him burst into tears whenever
he looks at us.' One of the birds who was wiser than the rest, being experienced
in all the bird catcher's tricks, is supposed to have said, 'Oh no! Run
away, you foolish and innocent birds! Save yourselves from this trap!
I beg you to fly as fast as you can up high in the sky, making good use
of your wings. If you want to know the truth, look carefully at what he
is doing: you will see that he is planning to catch some of us in his
snare, and once we are caught he will kill us or strangle us and carry
us off in that basket.'
This fable informs us that one person's advice can easily save many
others from danger.
Note: The fables in the medieval prose paraphrases of Phaedrus regularly
refer to our 'author,' meaning Aesop or else his putative translator
'Romulus' (Phaedrus's name had been long since forgotten).
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.