<< Home Page | Oxford (Gibbs) Index

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

Perry 212 (Babrius 51)

There was once a widow who kept a sheep at home. Wanting to gather more wool, she sheared the sheep awkwardly, clipping the wool so close to the flesh that she made the sheep bleed. Smarting with pain, the sheep said to the woman, 'Please stop torturing me! Will my blood really add so much to the weight of the wool? If it is my flesh that you want, mistress, there is a butcher who will be able to put me to death quickly; but if it is my wool you want, rather than my flesh, then the shearer can clip me without killing me.'

Note: Compare a proverb reportedly used by the emperor Tiberius (d. 37 C.E.), as reported by Suetonius, Life of Tiberius 32: 'Good shepherds shear their flock; they do not flay them.'

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.