Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
398. THE FOXES AND THEIR TAILS
Perry 17 (Chambry
A fox got caught in a trap and part of her tail was cut off as she escaped.
She was so ashamed that she didn't think life was worth living. Then she
realized that if she could persuade the other foxes to do the same thing
her own shame would be hidden, as it would be shared by all the foxes.
Accordingly, she summoned the other foxes and asked them to cut off their
tails, maintaining that this was the one part of their body that was unseemly,
nothing but an extra appendage which they had to carry around. One of
the other foxes scoffed in reply, 'If it weren't for the fact that it
is in your interest to do this thing, you never would have proposed it!'
The story shows that wicked people do not give advice to their neighbours
about what to do because of good-will, but because of their own self-interest.
Note: The story of the fox with the docked tail is alluded to by Plutarch,
Life of Themistocles 1.
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.