Aesop: The Hawk, The Kite, and the Pigeons

The fable from India that I shared last time was about the frog who foolishly trusted the snake to carry him around, so I thought I would follow that up with the story of the doves (or pigeons) who foolishly put their trust in a hawk (or a kite), thinking he would protect them from their enemies. As the doves soon realize, this was a big mistake!

I've collected different English versions and illustrations here, including this very short version from Townsend's Aesop:


The Pigeons, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented.

When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc and slew a larger number of them in one day than the Kite could pounce upon in a whole year.

Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.

~ ~ ~

And here is an English prose translation of the version by the ancient Roman poet Phaedrus. In this version, the pigeons elect the kite as their king:


He who entrusts himself to the protection of a wicked man, while he seeks assistance, meets with destruction.

Some Pigeons, having often escaped from a Kite, and by their swiftness of wing avoided death, the spoiler had recourse to stratagem, and by a crafty device of this nature, deceived the harmless race. “Why do you prefer to live a life of anxiety, rather than conclude a treaty, and make me your king, who can ensure your safety from every injury?”

They, putting confidence in him, entrusted themselves to the Kite, who, on obtaining the sovereignty, began to devour them one by one, and to exercise authority with his cruel talons.

Then said one of those that were left: “Deservedly are we smitten.”

This illustration is by Paul Bransom:

No comments:

Post a Comment

To prevent spam, I have limited comments to Google accounts. You can also contact me at Twitter @OnlineMythIndia or by email: laura-gibbs@ou.edu.