Updated fables for the 21st century

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The Independent Online

I have been rereading Aesop's Fables , and have been struck again by how much we need some more modern equivalents...

I have been rereading Aesop's Fables , and have been struck again by how much we need some more modern equivalents...

The Spider and his Web

Once upon a time there was a spider who spent all day building an elaborate nest to catch insects in. But the first creature who came that way was a passing art impresario from London.

"That is a truly remarkable art installation you have constructed there!" said the art mogul.

The spider looked round but could see nothing corresponding to that description.

"I am referring to the glistening arrangement of very thin fibres in which you are sitting!" said the art mogul. "It is magnificent. It is symmetrical but off-centre. It is large-scale yet miniature. It is resonant with the Zeitgeist ... What do you call it ?"

"It is my web," said the spider.

" My Web!" said the art supremo. "Excellent title. And how much will you sell it to me for?"

"It is not for sale," said the spider. "I need it to catch insects to help me eat."

"My God, it is functional as well!" cried the art tsar. "The critics are going to love this! Look, don't you see that if you sell it to me, you will be able to buy all the insects you will ever need? You need never make another web!"

So after much haggling they agreed a price, and the art impresario went off with the web, which was a smash hit in London. But the spider spent all the money on an insect binge, and very soon had nothing left to eat or spend. So he created another web and put that up for sale. The only thing that happened was that a small moth got caught in it.

"Get out!" said the starving spider, freeing the moth and shooing him off. "You are ruining my art installation!"

Moral: Leave art to the art dealers.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The ant and the grasshopper agreed to have a race, to see which was the faster.

The ant set off immediately as fast as its little legs could carry it, which was not very fast.

The grasshopper gave several enormous leaps, and then sat down to rest for a while, singing to itself.

Another couple of grasshoppers came past, and they all got involved in a bit of a drinking and singing session, and while they were busy doing that the ant came slowly past and got very near the end of the race course before the grasshopper had finished its singing.

"Slow and steady beats fast and fancy," said the ant.

"I don't think so," said a voice. "I was here long before you."

Looking up, the ant saw a tortoise sitting on the far side of the winning line.

Moral: Don't mess with the professionals.

The Dog and the Wolf

One day a wolf got talking to a dog who lived in a rich man's house.

"Why do you live indoors all day when you could be out in the open, hunting?" said the wolf.

"Ah, but there is no need for me to hunt," said the dog. "I have my master well trained. I send him out to work each day, and he earns enough money to buy me food and satisfy all my wants. And after he has worked all day, I get him to take me for a walk in the evening."

"But I see you have a collar on you," said the wolf. "What is that for ?"

"Oh, that is so I can attach myself to my master on our walks so that he does not stray off and get lost," said the dog.

"And what about your love life?"

"My master loves me, as well he might," said the dog.

Moral: Never try to reason with a corporate slave.

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