Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE PIKE"*

Posted by jlubans on March 31, 2017

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Caption: Swimming free.

“AN appeal to justice was made against the Pike, on the ground that it had rendered the pond uninhabitable. A whole cart-load of proofs were tendered as evidence; and the culprit, as was beseeming, was brought into court in a large tub. The judges were assembled not far off, having been set to graze in a neighbouring field. Their names are still preserved in the archives. There were two Donkeys, a couple of old Horses, and two or three Goats. The Fox also was added to their number, as assessor, in order that the business might be carried on under competent supervision.
Now, popular report said that the Pike used to supply the table of the Fox with fish. However this might be, there was no partiality among the judges ; and it must also be stated that it was impossible to conceal the Pike's roguery in the affair in question. So there was no help for it. Sentence was passed, condemning the Pike to an ignominious punishment. In order to frighten others, it was to be hung from a tree.
‘Respected judges,’ thus did the Fox begin to speak, ‘hanging is a trifle. I should have liked to have sentenced the culprit to such a punishment as has never been seen here among us. In order that rogues may in future live in fear, and run a terrible risk, I would drown it in the river.’

‘Excellent!’ cry the judges, and unanimously accept the proposition.

So the Pike was flung—into the river.”

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The ever wily Fox’s cunning is on brilliant display in this humorous story; a Russian version of the American South’s story of the briar patch and B’rer Rabbit. You get an idea of how stingingly effective Krylov was as a Satirist with his choice of animal types for the judiciary: Donkeys, Horses and Goats.
I wonder, as the ides of April approach, if the Fox is available to do my taxes.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

N.B. The new book, Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, comes out in June 2017 as an e-book ($15.00) and a soft cover print-on-demand book, ($25.00). The print book will feature original illustrations by the renowned, Béatrice Coron.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017


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