Fable IV – The Nightingale and the Hawk
The Nightingale, perched upon a high oak, was singing in its customary way. The Hawk, seeing the Nightingale and in need of food, flew down and seized it. As she was about to be carried away, she asked the Hawk to set her down, saying that she was not sufficient to fill the Hawk’s stomach; indeed, that the Hawk should turn its attention to bigger birds if it were really in need of food. The Hawk, taking up this argument, said, ‘But I would be stupid if I let the meal at hand go so that I could seek one that never appears.’
Thus are the foolish among mortals who let go of what is ready to hand through hope of greater things to come.
ἀηδὼν ἐπί τινος δρυὸς ὑψηλῆς καθημένη κατὰ τὸ σύνηθες ᾖδεν. ἱέραξ δὲ αὐτὴν θεασάμενος ἀπορῶν τροφῆς ἐπιπτὰς ἀνελάβετο αὐτήν. ἡ δὲ μέλλουσα ἀναιρεῖσθαι ἐδέετο αὐτοῦ λέγουσα μὴ βρωθῆναι αὐτήν, ἐπειδὴ οὐχ ἱκανή ἐστιν ἱέρακος πληρῶσαι γαστέρα, δεῖ δὲ αὐτόν, εἰ τροφῆς ἀπορεῖ, ἐπὶ τὰ μείζονα τῶν ὀρνέων τρέπεσθαι. ὑπολαβὼν δὲ ὁ ἱέραξ ἔφη· „ἀλλ’ ἔγωγε ἄφρων ἂν εἴην, τὴν ἐν χερσὶν ἑτοίμην βορὰν παρεὶς τὰ μηδέπω φαινόμενα διώκειν.”
ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ, ὅτι οὕτω καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀλόγιστοί εἰσιν, οἳ δι’ ἐλπίδα μειζόνων τὰ ἐν χερσὶν ὄντα προίενται.