Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Cat And The Fox”*

Posted by jlubans on July 04, 2014

20140704-cat fox best.jpg

“The Cat and the Fox once took a walk together,
Sharpening their wits with talk about the weather
And as their walking sharpened appetite, too;
They also took some things they had no right to.
Cream, that is so delicious when it thickens,
Pleased the Cat best. The Fox liked little chickens.

With stomachs filled, they presently grew prouder,
And each began to try to talk the louder--
Bragging about his skill, and strength, and cunning.
‘Pooh!’ said the Fox. ‘You ought to see me running.
Besides, I have a hundred tricks. You Cat, you!
What can you do when Mr. Dog comes at you?’
‘To tell the truth,’ the Cat said, ‘though it grieve me
I've but one trick. Yet that's enough--believe me!’

There came a pack of fox-hounds--yelping, baying.
‘Pardon me’, said the Cat. ‘I can't be staying.
This is my trick.’ And up a tree he scurried,
Leaving the Fox below a trifle worried.

In vain he tried his hundred tricks and ruses
(The sort of thing that Mr. Dog confuses)--
Doubling, and seeking one hole, then another--
Smoked out of each until he thought he'd smother.
At last as he once more came out of cover,
Two nimble dogs pounced on him--All was over!”

20140704-cat fox RIP.jpg

“Common sense is always worth more than cunning” is how one moralist put it.

Or, as Occam had it: “When you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras.” The simple answer to a problem is often the best answer. Tell that to my admininstrative contemporaries for whom complexity trumped simplicity. They never believed the corollary that simple is difficult, complex is easy. For them, a simple solution always improved by adding a few curlicues here and there. More important is understanding the problem. The cat understands and survives. The fox, offers up his 100 ruses and dies.

*Source: Larned, W. T., Jean de La Fontaine, and John Rae. Fables in rhyme for little folks: adapted from the French of La Fontaine. New York: P.F. Volland. 1918. At Gutenberg.
Also, here is the 1841 Elizur Wright translation.

of La Fontaine’s verse. In the bucolic background, birds chirp and bees buzz.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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