Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog

Here is another fable by our old friend, Mr. Aesop:


One moonlight night a Fox was prowling about a farmer's hen-coop, and saw a Cock roosting high up beyond his reach.   "Good news, good news!" he cried.

"Why, what is that?" said the Cock.

"King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird henceforth, but all shall dwell together in brotherly friendship."

"Why, that is good news," said the Cock; "and there I see some one coming, with whom we can share the good tidings." And so saying he craned his neck forward and looked afar off.

"What is it you see?" said the Fox.

"It is only my master's Dog that is coming towards us. What, going so soon?" he continued, as the Fox began to turn away as soon as he had heard the news. "Will you not stop and congratulate the Dog on the reign of universal peace?"

"I would gladly do so," said the Fox, "but I fear he may not have heard of King Lion's decree."

Cunning often outwits itself


This is a pretty good story, and here's why:  the Fox thinks he is being really smart and can fool the Cock into trusting him and coming down from his roosting place.  And after the Cock does that, the Fox can grab him and eat him, which would be a very yummy meal for the Fox.

But the Cock is actually even smarter than the Fox, because he fools the Fox into thinking that the Master's Dog is coming, and the Fox doesn't want to be attacked by the Dog, so he runs away.  The Dog is clearly a loyal and faithful Dog who protects the chickens from foxes.  Probably, the Dog would like to eat chickens himself, but he has been trained by his Master to protect the chickens instead of eating them.  So the Dog is smart, and the Cock is smart, and the Fox thinks he is smart, but he's not really very smart at all.

And the lesson we can learn from this fable is that you should be careful when you are trying to outsmart somebody because that somebody might be smarter than you are.

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