Aesop Fable III – The Eagle and the Beetle

An Eagle was hunting a Hare. The Hare, lacking anyone who could render him assistance saw a Beetle, the one thing which chance offered him, and so began to supplicate him. The Beetle encouraged him and, seeing the Eagle coming near, enjoined him not to carry off his suppliant. The Eagle, scorning the smallness of the Beetle, devoured the Hare in front of him. The Beetle, remembering the evil done by the Eagle, kept watch over his nest; and, if the Eagle ever gave birth, the Beetle rolled them along and dropped them, until the Eagle, driven away at every turn, finally fled to Zeus (for the Eagle is the sacred bird of Zeus) and asked him to give him a safe place for birthing his young. Zeus offered the Eagle a space within his robe for giving birth. The Beetle saw this, rolled up a globule of dung, went up to Zeus and dropped the ball into the folds of Zeus’s robe. Zeus, wanting to shake the dung out, stood up and did not realize that he hurled away the eggs. For this reason it is said that eagles do not hatch during beetle season.

This story teaches us not to scorn anyone, realizing that no one is so powerless that they cannot avenge themselves when treated foully.


ἀετὸς λαγωὸν ἐδίωκεν. ὁ δὲ ἐν ἐρημίᾳ τῶν βοηθούντων ὑπάρχων, ὃν μόνον ὁ καιρὸς ὑπέσχεν, κάνθαρον ἰδὼν τοῦτον ἱκέτευεν. ὁ δὲ παραθαρρύνας αὐτὸν ὡς ἐγγὺς ἐλθόντα τὸν ἀετὸν ἐθεάσατο, παρεκάλει αὐτὸν ὁ κάνθαρος μὴ ἀπάγειν αὐτοῦ τὸν ἱκέτην. κἀκεῖνος ὑπεριδὼν τῆς σμικρότητος ἐν ὄψει τοῦ κανθάρου τὸν λαγωὸν κατέφαγεν. ὁ δὲ ἀπ’ ἐκείνου μνησικακῶν διετέλει παρατηρούμενος τοῦ ἀετοῦ τὰς καλιάς. καὶ εἴ ποτε ἐκεῖνος ἔτικτε, μετάρσιος αἰρόμενος ἐκύλιε τὰ ὠὰ καὶ κατέασσε, μέχρις οὗ πανταχόθεν ἐλαυνόμενος ὁ ἀετὸς ἐπὶ τὸν Δία κατέφυγεν—ἔστι δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ ἱερὸς ὁ ὄρνις—καὶ ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ τόπον αὐτῷ ἀσφαλῆ πρὸς νεοττοποιίαν παρασχεῖν. τοῦ δὲ Διὸς ἐν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ κόλποις ἐπιτρέψαντος αὐτῷ νεοττοποιεῖν ὁ κάνθαρος τοῦτο ἑωρακὼς κόπρου σφαῖραν ποιήσας ἀνέπτη καὶ

γενόμενος κατὰ τοὺς κόλπους τοῦ Διὸς καθῆκε τὴν κόπρον. ὁ δὲ Ζεὺς ἀποσείσασθαι τὴν κόπρον βουλόμενος ὡς ἐξανέστη, ἔλαθε τὰ ὠὰ ἀπορρίψας. ἀπ’ ἐκείνου τέ φασι, περὶ ὃν καιρὸν οἱ κάνθαροι γίνονται, τοὺς ἀετοὺς μὴ νεοττεύειν.

     ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ μηδενὸς καταφρονεῖν λογιζομένους, ὅτι οὐδείς ἐστιν, ὃς προπηλακισθεὶς ἑαυτόν ποτε οὐκ ἐκδικήσει.


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