Aesop’s THE MADMAN WHO SOLD WISDOM*

Posted by jlubans on August 26, 2022

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Caption: Ouch! (lower left) Illustration by Jean Jacques Grandville (1803-1847) from a collection of fables by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) published during 1838-1840.

A Madman once set himself up in the market place, and with loud cries announced that he would sell Wisdom.
The people at once crowded about him, and some gave him gold for his wares, but they each got only a blow on the ear and a bunch of thread, and were well laughed at by their companions.
One of them, however, took it more seriously than the others, and asked a wise sage what it meant.
"It means," said the sage, "that if one would not be hurt by a Madman, he must put a bunch of thread over his ears."
So the Madman was really selling Wisdom.”
________________
LaFontaine’s retelling provides
a clue as to the inherited Wisdom:
“People of sense infallibly
Between themselves and madmen place
At least some fathoms of this lace;
Or else they will a buffet gain.”
Those of us less sagacious, may ask: How many fathoms of thread or lace?
“Some” we are told; another, “two” and a third – having endured a drubbing, no doubt, - prescribes “forty yards of common thread”.
In brief, keep your distance from the deranged.
Am I referring to cable news and all their “mad men” (and women)?
Maybe, but a “blow upon the ear” for the viewer/listener rarely leads to wisdom other to avoid cable news.

*SOURCE: Aesop's Fables: A New Revised Version From Original Sources” WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
BY HARRISON WEIR, JOHN TENNIEL, ERNEST GRISET
AND OTHERS” New York : Frank F. Lovell & Company, c1884

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My book, Fables for Leaders is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

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