Friday Fable. Aesop’s “THE CAT AND THE COCK”*

Posted by jlubans on September 11, 2014

Insert cat and cock
“A Cat pounced on a Cock, and cast about for some good excuse for making a meal off him, for Cats don't as a rule eat Cocks, and she knew she ought not to. At last she said, ‘You make a great nuisance of yourself at night by crowing and keeping people awake: so I am going to make an end of you.’ But the Cock defended himself by saying that he crowed in order that men might wake up and set about the day's work in good time, and that they really couldn't very well do without him. ‘That may be,’ said the Cat, ‘but whether they can or not, I'm not going without my dinner’; and she killed and ate him.”

“The want of a good excuse never kept a villain from crime.”

Or, as Caxton had it in 1484: “And thus is it of hym whiche is custommed to lyue by rauyn / For he can not kepe ne absteyne hym self fro hit / For alle the xcusacions that be leyd on hym.”

Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692) offered another moral: “’Tis an easy Matter to find a Staff to beat a Dog. Innocence is no Protection against the arbitrary Cruelty of a tyrannical Power.”

And so it is, this little story applies geo-politically as we see a nearby tyrant making absurd excuses to violate another people. As well, it applies to the petty and jealous boss, who, envious of a more-than-effective subordinate goes out of his way to find reasons to fire him: “ For he can not kepe ne absteyne hym self fro hit”, his envy is so great.

For the literary scholars out there, the Vernon Jones telling (1912) leaves out the cat’s accusing the cock of incestuous relationships as another excuse for killing him. L'Estrange and Caxton, however, dish all about this barnyard behavior.

*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.

Still kicking after all these years: Jennifer A. Bartlett, in her 2014 column, “The New and Noteworthy” includes several paragraphs about my 2010 book and this blog. Her essay “The Power Deep in the Org Chart: Leading from the Middle” appears in the latest issue of the online magazine from the American Library Association: Library Leadership & Management, 2014. Ms. Bartlett’s column “focuses on recent publications involving the recognition and development of leadership skills at all levels of the library organization, not only those positions at the top of the organizational chart.” She is Head of Reference Services at the University of Kentucky Libraries.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014
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