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

Perry 231 (Chambry 356 *)

A flea once jumped up onto a man's foot and sat there. The man called upon Heracles to aid him in his struggle. When the flea finally jumped off, the man groaned and said, 'O Heracles, if you refused to help me to defeat this flea, how will you exert yourself on my behalf against more powerful enemies?'
The story shows that we should not call upon the gods in trivial affairs but only in dire necessity.

Note: This motif was proverbial: 'calling on the gods because of the bite of a flea' (see Erasmus, Adages 3.4.4). In other versions of this story (included in Chambry's first edition of the Greek fables), the man is said to be an athlete who expects Heracles to help him defeat his competitors.

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.