Friday Fable: Aesop's, “THE BEE AND JUPITER”*

Posted by jlubans on December 20, 2013

20131220-bee julia.jpeg
Caption: Woodcut by Julia Rix

“A Queen Bee from Hymettus flew up to Olympus with some fresh honey from the hive as a present to Jupiter, who was so pleased with the gift that he promised to give her anything she liked to ask for. She said she would be very grateful if he would give stings to the bees, to kill people who robbed them of their honey. Jupiter was greatly displeased with this request, for he loved mankind: but he had given his word, so he said that stings they should have. The stings he gave them, however, were of such a kind that whenever a bee stings a man the sting is left in the wound and the bee dies.”
“Evil wishes, like fowls, come home to roost.”

Or, revenge (sweet or bitter) is a two-edged sword. And so it can be at work. So, hold back on the invective – the sting - even if you’ve been unfairly castigated – lest you appear as petty as the critic. A colleague, whom I admired greatly, made a practice of never responding to personal criticism, to ad hominem attacks. Any reaction to a slur was, for him, getting down to the level of the backbiter, the gossip, the rumor-monger, the hater.
I have tried to follow that advice, some times with less success than others. In my Walter Mitty state, I always, of course, have a crushing mot juste for the demeaner. On reflection, I note that some of my bitterest critics have died or become feeble. What did someone say, “the sweetest revenge is to outlive your enemies?” There’s a cartoon with a couple old codgers in wheelchairs congratulating each other for outliving their enemies. One, however, cautions the other that that only works if you can still remember your enemies!

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES A NEW TRANSLATION BY V. S. VERNON JONES WITH AN INTRODUCTION By G. K. CHESTERTON AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARTHUR RACKHAM (Publisher: London: W. Heinemann; New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1912).
Available at Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: BYU Harold B. Lee Library

Copyright John Lubans 2013
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