Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Man Bitten by a Dog”*

Posted by jlubans on July 08, 2016

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Caption: Woodcut by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) with the bitten man and his friend staged as if in a Roman or Greek comedy**

“A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog went about in quest of someone who might heal him. A friend, meeting him and learning what he wanted, said, ‘If you would be cured, take a piece of bread, and dip it in the blood from your wound, and go and give it to the Dog that bit you.’ The Man who had been bitten laughed at this advice and said, ‘Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I should beg every Dog in the town to bite me.’"
“Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed increase their means of injuring you.”

The bitten man responds with common sense to his friend’s nonsensical advice for a cure. It is the moral that suggests this is more a man bites dog story than dog bites: When we provide benefits to evil, those benefits do not stop the evil person from seeking to injure us. Or, as Thomas James put it 1848: “He who proclaims himself ready to buy up his enemies will never want a supply of them.”
That’s good advice to consider when we seek to pacify a problematic employee or a toxic boss instead of taking direct action to confront the evildoer. A state unwilling to risk war may well make concessions to an enemy; the end result is not peace, rather subjugation.

*Source: 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 the Gutenberg Project.

**Bewick brings to mind Greek or Roman staging for comedies by Aristophanes or Plautus. The bitten man and his friend could be stock characters; while bandaged the mangled man has a smile on his face and the advice giver appears to be a doofus grampus. Note the nearby eavesdropping dogs.

Copyright © John Lubans 2016
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