AESOP’S FABLES: The Leopard and the Fox
Posted on: July 12, 2019.

Aren’t words like “story”, “fairy tale”, “folklore”, … and “fable”, our favorite? But what exactly is a “fable”? A fable is—

  • a short, fictional story
  • which typically features
  • animals
  • plants
  • non-living things
  • legendary creatures—like the Saber-Toothed Tiger or the Mammoth
  • natural forces—like volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, famine, and drought
  • that are ‘anthropomorphized’—rendered human qualities and abilities
  • and conveys, through illustration and comprehension, a particular moral lesson


Fables have had a major cultural significance throughout history—across various traditions and civilizations—as an effective method of imparting moral values to the society. Fables illustrated a hidden message conveyed through a short narrative, typically characterized with animals, plants, fascinating creatures, and inanimate objects, all of which communicated human virtues and morals.

Another reason why fables were widespread is that a fabulist—one who creates fables—is not considered to be a teacher, and any bias that listeners would have otherwise had against the fabulist was eliminated … and Aesop—who is dated to have lived in 620 BC—would have perhaps been the most famous fabulist in history.

 
 

Now on with the story…

A fox and a leopard were resting lazily after a generous dinner. To amuse themselves, meantime, they decided to debate about each other’s “beauty”.

The leopard took it into his head to value himself upon the great variety and beauty of his spots. He pointed to his glossy, spotted coat remarking how proud he felt about it, and how he ought to be the King of the Jungle and not the Lion, who had not so beautiful a skin. The leopard stated, in the most haughty, disdainful manner, how he even treated the rest of the wild beasts of the forest without distinction, and then poked fun at the fox’s appearance, declaring it to be only quite ordinary.

The fox was wise enough to see that he could not rival the Leopard in looks and decided not to make any comment about his fine bushy tail with attractive white tips. But just to exercise his wits, and enjoy the fun of disputing the leopard’s good looks, the fox continued making sarcastic comments about the leopard’s appearance. Presently, the fox got up, yawning lazily—just as the leopard was about to lose his temper. The fox stated—

“You may have a very smart coat, but you would be a great deal better off if you had a little more smartness inside your head, the way I am. Your beauty is insignificant as it is only of the body; mine is true beauty, as it is of the mind.”

And then with a great deal of spirit and resolution, the fox continued advising the leopard—

“One of sound judgment does not form opinions about oneself based on merit of external appearance, but by virtue of the good qualities and endowments that reside within one’s mind. You are miserably mistaken in the value that you have set for yourself. Your pleasure is only vanguard, and one of vainglory.”

MORAL: A fine coat is not always an indication of an attractive mind.



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