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

Perry 362 (Babrius 134)

Once upon a time the tail of the snake decided that she would no longer follow the head which crept along in front. 'It's my turn to be the leader!' said the tail. The other parts of the snake's body said to the tail, 'You wretched creature, why can't you just keep quiet? How are you going to be our leader when you don't have eyes or a nose, the things that guide the limbs of animals when they move?' But the tail did not listen to the other members of the snake's body, and thus the rational was defeated by the irrational. The back now ruled the front and the tail took the lead, blindly trailing the whole body behind her. Finally the tail led the body into a deep stony hole, scraping its spine against the rocks. Then the stubborn thing began to fawn and beg, 'O head, my leader, please save us if you will! I have provoked a harmful quarrel with harmful results. If you will just put me back down where I was before, I will behave myself, so that you won't have to worry about me getting you into trouble ever again.'

Note: This story also appears in Plutarch, Life of Agis 2.The entire last sentence of this fable was missing. What happened?

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.