Krylov's THE ELEPHANT AS GOVERNOR (The Sheep’s Petition)*

Posted by jlubans on March 09, 2019

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Caption: Detail from a monument to Krylov by Peter Klodt von Urgensburg (1854–55)

AN Elephant was once appointed ruler of a forest.
Now, it is well known that the race of elephants is endowed with great intelligence; but every family has its unworthy scion.
Our Governor was as stout as the rest of his race are, but as foolish as the rest of his race are not.
As to his character, he would not intentionally hurt a fly.
Well, the worthy Governor becomes aware of a petition laid before him by the Sheep, stating that their skins are entirely torn off their backs by the Wolves.
"Oh, rogues!" cries the Elephant, "what a crime! Who gave you leave to plunder?
But the Wolves say,
"Allow us to explain, О father.
Did not you give us leave to take from the Sheep a trifling contribution** for our backs in winter?
It is only because they are stupid sheep that they cry out. They have only a single fleece taken from each of them, but they grumble about giving even that! "
“Well, well," says the Elephant, "take care what you do. I will not permit any one to commit injustice.
As it must be so, take a fleece from each of them.
But do not take from them a single hair besides."

He who has rank and power, but wants sense, however good his heart may be, is sure to do harm.

**ОЬгок—A tax levied on the Russian peasant by his master.

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This is another version of Krylov’s The Sheep’s Petition.
Herein it’s not a lion but a feckless elephant dispensing injustice. Unlike Krylov’s The Grandee, this elephant does not know his limits.
So, cluelessly he goes along with the wolves and their wicked scheme.
I’ll use this fable on my first day of the “Leadership and Literature” class, April 4, at the University of Latvia.
A few of my discussion questions will dwell on a leader’s self-assessment: How am I doing? What can I be doing better? Who can I turn to for guidance.
If the elephant has an advisor, what is her role? Does she speak up on behalf of the shorned sheep or does she let it be, lest she earn some injustice by speaking the truth?

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

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My book, Fables for Leaders is only a click away:


Also, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.


© Copyright John Lubans 2019


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