Jan 16: The Old Woman and the Wine Jar

I’m reading this in the café next to my daughter’s clarinet lesson…truth that the great thoughts can follow you wherever you go.

More EZ literature today – that’s not a crack against EZ, either. If the whole idea of this is to provide a refreshing highbrow oasis in your daily life, then what’s wrong with a little Aesop instead of, say, Juvenal? Plus, the everydayness of this project can be a slog from time to time – and I say this with authority as an overweight person who hates to exercise. (My cappuccino here has non-fat milk; virtue is busting out all over.)

Okay, to Volume 17 we go….

Well, they’re Aesop’s fables, full of cunning wisdom, the kind of thing where the Fox is the most admirable creature, for he avoids getting eaten, as in the Lion, the Fox, and Beasts, where the Fox won’t go into the Lion’s cave even though the Lion is sick. Sort of like Bob Hope in Bob Hope movies. The clever unidealistic coward is an eternal type, although I’m having trouble thinking of a current example. (It’s because execs want everyone to be so damn likable, maybe.)

But if there’s any reading this year that can be easily summarized into The Gist, it’s got to be Aesop’s Fables, and so I’m going to write out the morals and let you, the reader, come up with the fables that go with them.

“Never trust a friend who deserts you at a pinch”
“The strong and the weak cannot keep company:
“United we stand, divide we fall”
“A little thing in hand is worth more than a great thing in prospect”
“Vices are their own punishment”
“Little by little does the trick.”
“Greed oft o’erreaches itself”
“Cunning often (not ‘oft’ – ed.) outwits itself.”
“Kindness effects more than severity.”
“The gods help them that help themselves”
“Please all, and you will please none.”
“Wealth unused might as well not exist.”
“Distrust interested advice.”
“You cannot escape your fate.”
“It is easy to propose impossible remedies.”
“Plodding wins the race”
“We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.”
“He that has many friends, has no friends.”
“Love can tame the wildest.”
“Union gives strength”
“It is easier to get into the enemy’s toils than out again.”
“Wit always has an answer ready.”
“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”
“Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.”
“Nature will out.”
“Better humble security than gilded danger.”
“Words may be deeds.”
“Men often applaud an inmitation and hiss the real thing.”
“What memories cling ‘round the instruments of our pleasure”
“Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.”

Typing it over like this, two things occur to me:

1) Almost all of these can apply to the writers’ strike.
2) Aesopworld is an unfriendly, bitter place full of people who are unfriendly, and people who might become unfriendly if you’re stupid enough to give them a chance. Aesop would be a terrible Presidential candidate.

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