Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
567. THE KING'S SON AND HIS GUTS
Perry 380 (Life
of Aesop 67)
Xanthus, Aesop's master, said to him, 'Can you tell me why we sometimes
look at our own shit after we go to the bathroom?' Aesop replied, 'A long
time ago the son of a king indulged in all kinds of luxurious foods. As
a result, he spent a lot of time in the bathroom. And once he spent such
a long time sitting there that he forgot what he was doing and crapped
his own guts out. Ever since, anyone taking a crap bends over to make
sure he hasn't done the same thing. But you don't have to worry about
that, since you don't have any guts to begin with!'
Note: This fable depends on a distinctly Greek understanding of human
anatomy: the 'guts' are actually the seat of intelligence (English 'brains')
rather than a sign of courage. By saying that his master has no 'guts',
Aesop means that his master is an idiot, not that he is a coward.
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.