Friday Fable: La Fontaine’s version of Aesop's “THE STAG AND THE VINE.”*

Posted by jlubans on November 21, 2014

Caption: The 42nd Psalm. Mosaic, probably from the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Ravenna, Italy.

“A stag, by favour of a vine,
Which grew where suns most genial shine,
And form'd a thick and matted bower
Which might have turn'd a summer shower,
Was saved from ruinous assault.
The hunters thought their dogs at fault,
And call'd them off. In danger now no more
The stag, a thankless wretch and vile,
Began to browse his benefactress o'er.
The hunters, listening the while,
The rustling heard, came back,
With all their yelping pack,
And seized him in that very place.
'This is,' said he, 'but justice, in my case.
Let every black ingrate
Henceforward profit by my fate.'
The dogs fell to--'twere wasting breath
To pray those hunters at the death.
They left, and we will not revile 'em,
A warning for profaners of asylum.”

Moral supplied by V. S. Vernon Jones: “Ingratitude sometimes brings its own punishment.”

In mordant moments, I like to think that people who do harm to others endure some level of unrelated suffering. Probably not as immediate as what the stag experiences, but over time, a karmic fate meanders their way, like a yellow fog oozing in and around and shutting off their light. So, all those folks in Kafkian customer service remember, do no harm to the customer (your metaphoric vineyard), lest you find yourself the stag surrounded by slings and arrows. Help, never hinder. The customer is always right, even when she’s wrong. Now that’s more Beckett than Kafka, but you know what I mean. Uber, the ride share company with vicious thoughts and surge pricing, could benefit from reading this and other fables from La Fontaine.

*Source: THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE Translated From The French by Elizur Wright. [original place and date: Boston, U.S.A., 1841.] A New Edition, with Notes by J. W. M. Gibbs,1882. Available at Gutenberg.

Two of my students, Ilze Kleinšmite and Santa Lozda, have written about the class I just finished at the University of Latvia. My teaching of this class was supported through a Fulbright Specialists Program Award from the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. I was one of over 400 U.S. faculty and professionals to travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program.
The students’ report, “Informācijas pārvaldības studenti apgūst demokrātiju darba vietā.” (Information Management students learn about democracy in the workplace) is on the U of Ls Faculty of Social Sciences web page.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: High Point University, Herman H. and Louise M. Smith Library, High Point, NC, USA
Available at Amazon just in time for an egalitarian Christmas.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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Posted by jlubans on November 21, 2014  •  06:39:20


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