“You didn’t build that!”

Posted by jlubans on March 13, 2018

Caption: W. Hollar's illustration from John Ogilby's fables, 1668.

Following our recent literary bent,
Shakespeare was no stranger to fables and their powerful messages.*
He alludes and elaborates upon the fable of the “Belly and Its Members” in his The Tragedy of Coriolanus:
The character Menenius is speaking to a mob of unhappy citizens:
“I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale't a little more.”
And Wm. S. goes on and on for over 60 lines about the moral of the fable concluding with this little bit of governmental theory (shared by not a few including Mr. Obama):
“The senators of Rome are this good Belly,
And you the mutinous Members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares; digest things rightly,
Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
And no way from yourselves. What do you think?”
And yet, as only Shakespeare can, he gives full credit and maybe some justification for the body’s “mutinous members” vs. the Belly’s rule:
First Citizen:
“Your belly's answer? What?
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric ... “

*Source: Thomas Newbigging. “Fables and Fabulists: Ancient and Modern.” 1896
For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get thee to a library to order a copy!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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