The Farmer and the Stork

The Farmer and the Stork is one of Aesop's fables which appears in Greek in the collections of both Babrius and Aphthonius and has differed little in the telling over the centuries. The story relates how a farmer plants traps in his field to catch the cranes and geese that are stealing the seeds he has sown. When he checks the traps, he finds among the other birds a stork, who pleads to be spared because it is harmless and has taken no part in the theft. The farmer replies that since it has been caught in the company of thieves, it must suffer the same fate. The moral of the story, which is announced beforehand in the oldest texts, is that associating with bad companions will lead to bad consequences.

Although the story line remains more or less constant, the fable has been differently titled. In the Perry Index, where it is numbered 194, it is a fowler who has caught the stork in his nets.[1] In his catalogue of the fables, Adrados refers simply to a bird-catcher and relates the story of a farmer,[2] as does the Neo-Latin poet Hieronymus Osius (1564).[3] For William Caxton (1484) he was a labourer[4] and in Samuel Croxall's collection (1722) he is called a husbandman.[5]

The Farmer and the Stork - Project Gutenberg etext 19994
The Farmer and the Stork, illustrated by Milo Winter in a 1919 Aesop anthology

References

  1. ^ Aesopica site
  2. ^ Francisco Rodríguez Adrados, History of the Graeco-latin Fable 3, Leiden 1999, pp.269-71
  3. ^ Fable 63
  4. ^ Fable 6.9
  5. ^ Fable 154

External links

Illustrations in books

Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with his name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and continue to be reinterpreted in different verbal registers and in popular as well as artistic media.

The fables originally belonged to the oral tradition and were not collected for some three centuries after Aesop's death. By that time a variety of other stories, jokes and proverbs were being ascribed to him, although some of that material was from sources earlier than him or came from beyond the Greek cultural sphere. The process of inclusion has continued until the present, with some of the fables unrecorded before the later Middle Ages and others arriving from outside Europe. The process is continuous and new stories are still being added to the Aesop corpus, even when they are demonstrably more recent work and sometimes from known authors.

Manuscripts in Latin and Greek were important avenues of transmission, although poetical treatments in European vernaculars eventually formed another. On the arrival of printing, collections of Aesop's fables were among the earliest books in a variety of languages. Through the means of later collections, and translations or adaptations of them, Aesop's reputation as a fabulist was transmitted throughout the world.

Initially the fables were addressed to adults and covered religious, social and political themes. They were also put to use as ethical guides and from the Renaissance onwards were particularly used for the education of children. Their ethical dimension was reinforced in the adult world through depiction in sculpture, painting and other illustrative means, as well as adaptation to drama and song. In addition, there have been reinterpretations of the meaning of fables and changes in emphasis over time.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is one of Aesop's Fables, numbered 210 in the Perry Index. From it is derived the English idiom "to cry wolf", defined as "to give a false alarm" in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and glossed by the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning to make false claims, with the result that subsequent true claims are disbelieved.

White stork

The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. Its plumage is mainly white, with black on its wings. Adults have long red legs and long pointed red beaks, and measure on average 100–115 cm (39–45 in) from beak tip to end of tail, with a 155–215 cm (61–85 in) wingspan. The two subspecies, which differ slightly in size, breed in Europe (north to Finland), northwestern Africa, southwestern Asia (east to southern Kazakhstan) and southern Africa. The white stork is a long-distance migrant, wintering in Africa from tropical Sub-Saharan Africa to as far south as South Africa, or on the Indian subcontinent. When migrating between Europe and Africa, it avoids crossing the Mediterranean Sea and detours via the Levant in the east or the Strait of Gibraltar in the west, because the air thermals on which it depends for soaring do not form over water.

A carnivore, the white stork eats a wide range of animal prey, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and small birds. It takes most of its food from the ground, among low vegetation, and from shallow water. It is a monogamous breeder, but does not pair for life. Both members of the pair build a large stick nest, which may be used for several years. Each year the female can lay one clutch of usually four eggs, which hatch asynchronously 33–34 days after being laid. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and both feed the young. The young leave the nest 58–64 days after hatching, and continue to be fed by the parents for a further 7–20 days.

The white stork has been rated as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It benefited from human activities during the Middle Ages as woodland was cleared, but changes in farming methods and industrialisation saw it decline and disappear from parts of Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Conservation and reintroduction programs across Europe have resulted in the white stork resuming breeding in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden. It has few natural predators, but may harbour several types of parasite; the plumage is home to chewing lice and feather mites, while the large nests maintain a diverse range of mesostigmatic mites. This conspicuous species has given rise to many legends across its range, of which the best-known is the story of babies being brought by storks.

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