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A Greek writer named Aesop wrote many stories called fables.  Fables are stories that are told in order to teach a lesson.  They aren’t necessarily true.  Aesop wrote the following stories about snakes.  The moral, or lesson, of the story is at the end. Here are some examples:

curled snake imageThe Laborer and the Snake

A snake, having made his hole close to the porch of a cottage, inflicted a mortal bite on the cottager's infant son. Grieving over his loss, the father resolved to kill the snake.  The next day, when it came out of its hole for food, he took up his axe, but by swinging too hastily, missed its head and cut off only the end of its tail.  After some time the cottager, afraid that the snake would bite him also, endeavored to make peace, and placed some bread and salt in the hole.  The snake, slightly hissing, said: "There can henceforth be no peace between us; for whenever I see you I shall remember the loss of my tail, and whenever you see me you will be thinking of the death of your son."

The lesson: No one truly forgets injuries in the presence of him who caused the injury.

The Farmer and the Snake

One winter a farmer found a snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom.  The warmth quickly revived the Snake, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. "Oh," cried the farmer with his last breath, "I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel." 

The lesson: The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.

The Serpent and the Eagle

An Eagle swooped down upon a Serpent and seized it in his talons with the intention of carrying it off and devouring it.  But the Serpent was too quick for him and had its coils round him in a moment; and then there ensued a life-and-death struggle between the two.  A countryman, who was a witness of the encounter, came to the assistance of the eagle, and succeeded in freeing him from the Serpent and enabling him to escape.  In revenge, the Serpent spat some of his poison into the man's drinking-horn.  Heated with his exertions, the man was about to slake his thirst with a draught from the horn, when the Eagle knocked it out of his hand, and spilled its contents upon the ground.

The lesson: One good turn deserves another. 


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