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

Perry 53 (Babrius 47)

Among the folk of days gone by, there was a very elderly gentleman who had many sons. When he was about to reach the end of his life, the old man asked his sons to bring to him a bundle of slender rods, if there happened to be some lying about. One of his sons came and brought the bundle to his father. 'Now try, with all your might, my sons, to break these rods that have been bound together.' They were not able to do so. The father then said, 'Now try to break them one by one.' Each rod was easily broken. 'O my sons,' he said, 'if you are all of the same mind, then no one can do you any harm, no matter how great his power. But if your intentions differ from one another, then what happened to the single rods is what will happen to each of you!'

Note: An epimythium probably added by a later editor reads: 'Brotherly love is mankind's greatest good; even the lowly are exalted by it.' This story was associated with a Scythian king who supposedly shared this lesson with all eighty of his surviving sons (see Scilurus, in Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders).

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.