Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Wolf and the Crane”*

Posted by jlubans on February 13, 2014

Caption: By Heinrich Steinhowel (1412-1479, the first to publish and print in Europe an edition of Aesop. This woodcut is from the 1477-1478 edition. Source: Laura Gibbs.

“A WOLF who had a bone stuck in his throat hired a Crane, for a large sum, to put her head into his mouth and draw out the bone. When the Crane had extracted the bone and demanded the promised payment, the Wolf, grinning and grinding his teeth, exclaimed: ‘Why, you have surely already had a sufficient recompense, in having been permitted to draw out your head in safety from the mouth and jaws of a wolf.’"
“In serving the wicked, expect no reward, and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains.”

While the woodcut illustration of poking one’s nose into another’s throat suggests that more than the bone would “come up” (ala evocative scenes from Lazarillo de Tormes and Don Quixote), the fable still brings to mind a colleague who was a great proponent of teamwork and collaboration, all the while professing unstinting camaraderie. But, his personal philosophy and practice were closer to "Every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost". I had thought of him as a good friend and worked with him in implementing projects from which he derived recognition and some cachet on campus. But, it turned out he was pretty much a solo operator. When I needed a helping hand, he offered none. And, after achieving some success in a niche of the industry, he never failed to disdainfully dismiss requests for advice and counsel from less successful colleagues.

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop's fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886.
Available at Gutenberg.

Friday’s Leading from the Middle Library: Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Library, New Zealand

Copyright John Lubans 2014
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