Friday Fable. Sir Roger L'Estrange’s, “A Stag Drinking”

Posted by jlubans on May 18, 2017

Caption: Illustration by ARTHUR RACKHAM (1912). Available at Gutenberg.

“As a stag was drinking upon the bank of a clear stream, he saw his image in the water, and entered into this contemplation upon’t. Well! says he, if these pityful shanks of mine were but answerable to this branching head, I can but think how I should defy all my enemies. The words were hardly out of his mouth, but he discover’d a pack of dogs coming full-cry towards him. Away he scours cross the fields, casts off the dogs, and gains a wood; but pressing thorough a thicket, the bushes held him by the horns, till the hounds came in, and pluck’d him down. The last thing he said was this. What an unhappy fool was I, to take my friends for my enemies, and my enemies for my friends! I trusted to my head, that has betray’d me, and I found fault with my leggs, that would otherwise have brought me off.”
He that does not thoroughly know himself, may be well allowed to make a false judgment upon other matters that most nearly concern him.”
Specific to the case? Not necessarily. That’s the appeal of fables, they have many levels, not just the literal. So, one may value some personal scintillating attribute at the expense of more homely, take-for-granted qualities like honesty or a resolve to keep promises.
We may, like I suggest in the mister Men blog, “Recruiting the Best”, value in others one quality and diminish a more important one (papers and degrees vs. likeability and attitude). We discover to our dismay, in the Academy, that the newly hired PhD really detests teaching freshmen and shows it, while someone without an advanced degree loves to teach and sparks intellectual curiosity in students. The latter gets outstanding evaluations, while the former gets mediocre. Which one do you think gets to stay?
Alas, the “branching head” usually wins over the “pityful shanks”.

*Source: Aesop’s Fables translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1692.

N.B. My next book, Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, comes out in September 2017 as an e-book ($9.99) and a soft cover print-on-demand book, ($25.99). The print book will feature original illustrations by the renowned Béatrice Coron.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017
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