Friday Fable. Aesop's (Joseph Jacobs) “Avaricious and Envious”*

Posted by jlubans on April 29, 2016

Caption: Jupiter dreams up another zinger.

“Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their hearts' desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of gold. No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to grief when he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that his neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that he might have one of his own eyes put out, by which means his companion would become totally blind.”
“Vices are their own punishment.”

Let’s leave our old friends, avarice and envy, alone for the nonce. Instead let’s look at this fable from a leaderly perspective.
Is Jupiter a bad boss, kick-ass coach, or caring unboss?
True to form, the uncaring, manipulative gods deliver, via Aesop, a message to us, error-prone man; if at all possible humankind will always screw things up! Well then what is Jupiter’s point? For us to learn from our mistakes? Perhaps. To give us counsel early in life so we avoid the mistakes of our forefathers and mothers? Maybe.
Or are these pranks out of boredom sitting around Mt. Olympus under Juno’s all-too watchful eye?
If we apply Kurt Lewin’s experiments with leadership philosophies,
Jupiter comes out far more autocratic and laissez faire than democratic. Jupiter is not an adviser, alongside, giving support and wisdom to these two neighbors. Instead, Jupiter, like a Greek tragedy, lets it rip, come what may. We imagine this type of boss sighing, “What fools these mortal be.” Turning, in smug exasperation, to Juno he exclaims, “I keep telling them and they don’t listen!”
Then, since he is in on the grand jest, he chuckles and starts dreaming up another practical joke for his entertainment.
Remind you of any bosses along your career path? I’ve known a few, arrogant and capricious, second only to Jupiter.

*Source: The Fables of Aesop, by Joseph Jacobs with illustrations by Richard Heighway (1894). Available at Project Gutenberg.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016
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