Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE GRANDEE”*

Posted by jlubans on April 14, 2017

Caption: Ivan Krylov (1769 – 1844)

“ONCE, in the days of old, a certain Grandee passed from his richly dight (clothed) bed into the realm which Pluto sways. To speak more simply, he died. And so, as was anciently the custom, he appeared before the justice-seat of Hades.
Straightway he was asked, ‘Where were you born? What have you been?’
‘I was born in Persia, and my rank was that of a Satrap. But, as my health was feeble during my lifetime, I never exercised any personal control in my province, but left everything to be done by my secretary.’
‘But you—what did you do?’
‘I ate, drank, and slept; and I signed everything he set before me.’
‘In with him, then, at once into Paradise!’
‘How now! Where is the justice of this?’ thereupon exclaimed Mercury, forgetting all politeness.
‘Ah, brother,’ answered Eacus, ‘you know nothing about it. But don't you see this? The dead man was a fool. What would have happened if he, who had such роwer in his hands, had unfortunately interfered in business? Why, he would have ruined the whole province. The tears which would have flowed then would have been beyond all calculation. Therefore it is that he has gone into Paradise, because he did not interfere with business.’
“I was in court yesterday, and I saw a judge there. There can be no doubt that he will go into Paradise.”

This was, history tells us, one of Krylov’s most censored fables. The censorship is understandable since it takes to task people who, empowered, do “nothing” – they loll around like the satrap - letting others do the doing. Imagine the many “do nothing” among the royalty who would not like being “outed” as incompetent.
The Czar was at an event and heard Krylov read this unpublished fable. He “took him in his arms, kissed him, and said, "Write away, old man, write away." End of the censorship.
After that episode, it is said Krylov’s career pretty much went into hibernation; he rested on his laurels.
Sometimes at work having a boss who gives you freedom to make decisions – which he or she signs off on – can be a pretty good deal for both of you. The work gets done, the boss ultimately protects you and you gain a considerable freedom to carry out your ideas.

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

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

« Prev itemNext item »


No comments yet. You can be the first!

Leave comment