Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
357. THE FARMER, THE WOLF AND THE PLOW
Perry 38 (Chambry
A plowman loosed his oxen from the yoke and led them away to be watered.
Meanwhile, a hungry wolf, who was looking for something to eat, discovered
the plow and started to lick the yoke straps where the oxen had been tied.
The unsuspecting wolf slowly but surely slipped his neck beneath the yoke,
until he was not able to pull it back out. He then started dragging the
plow along the furrow. When the plowman came back and saw what had happened,
he said, 'O you wicked creature, if only you would give up your life of
theft and crime in order to devote yourself entirely to farming!'
The same is true of wicked people: even when they promise to be on
their good behaviour, no one believes them because of their bad habits.
Note: Compare the Greek proverb, 'the fox is pulling the plow' (Erasmus,
Adages 2.6.28) which was used to refer to incongruous or absurd situations.
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.