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

Perry 51 (Chambry 81 *)

There was a snake who used to lurk around the front door of a farmer's house. One day the snake struck the man's son, biting him on the foot. The boy died on the spot. The boy's parents were filled with immense sorrow and the grief-stricken father seized his axe and tried to kill the malevolent snake. When the snake fled his pursuer, the man hurried after him, raising his weapon, determined to strike, but as the farmer was about to deal the snake a deadly blow, he missed and managed only to cut off the tip of his tail. The man was terrified at the thought that he might have killed the snake, so he took cakes and water along with honey and salt and called to the snake, wanting to make peace with him. The snake, however, only hissed softly at the farmer from where he had hidden himself in the rocks and said: 'Man, do not trouble yourself any longer: there can be no possible friendship between us any more. When I look upon my tail, I am in pain. The same is true for you: whenever you look again upon the grave of your son, you will not be able to live in peace with me.'
The fable shows that no one can put aside thoughts of hatred or revenge so long as he sees a reminder of the pain that he suffered.

Note: There is an even more detailed explanation of the story's motivation in an Indian version of the same fable in Book 3 of the Panchatantra: when the man's son realizes that the snake is able to bestow wealth, he becomes greedy and decides to kill the snake in order to take all the snake's treasure, but instead the snake kills him.

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.