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

Perry 575 (Romulus 4.6)

Relatives and friends who cannot agree with one another will come to a bad end, as the following fable tells us.
Some castrated sheep had been gathered together in a flock with the rams. Although the sheep realized that the butcher had come into the flock, they pretended not to see him. Even when they saw one of their own seized by the butcher's deadly hands and taken away to be slaughtered, still the sheep were not afraid. Foolishly, they said to one another, 'He keeps his hands off me, he keeps his hands off you; let him take whom he takes.' In the end, there was only one sheep left. This is what he reportedly said to the butcher when he saw that he too was about to be taken away: 'We deserve to be slaughtered one after another since we didn't realize what was happening until it was too late. The fact is, as soon as we saw you here in our midst, back when we were all together, we should have killed you at once by smashing you between our horns.'
This fable shows that people who do not keep an eye out for their own safety will be utterly destroyed by evil.

Note: This fable is strikingly similar to the 'first they came' parable of Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984): 'First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.'

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.