Fables of Aesop, The | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in September 2018 with all known ATU Classifications. Aesop Fables have Perry classification numbers which have been included in the End Notes to each of the tales. They were also used in the ATU field when no ATU classification was available for a fable. Note that Aesop as an author and Greece as the geographic location for these fables are loose categorizations due to the murky nature of Aesop's Fables in general. Read the Introductory materials to this collection to learn more. For convenience, Aesop and Greece have been used in the classifications for convenience despite the inaccuracies involved.

Dog and the Shadow, The

IT HAPPENED that a Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it home in his mouth to eat it in peace. Now on his way home he had to cross a plank lying across a running brook. As he crossed, he looked down and saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath. Thinking it was another dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to have that also. So he made a snap at the shadow in the water, but as he opened his mouth the piece of meat fell out, dropped into the water and was never seen more.

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.


(Ro. i. 5).

Phaedrus, i. 4. Probably Indian, from the Calladhanuggaha Jataka (Folklore Journal, ii. 371 seq.). An unfaithful wife eloping with her lover arrives at the bank of a stream. There the lover persuades her to strip herself so that he may carry her clothes across the stream, which he proceeds to do, but never returns. Indra, seeing her plight, changes himself into a jackal bearing a piece of flesh and goes down to the bank of the stream. In its waters fish are disporting, and the Indra-jackal, laying aside his meat, plunges in after one of them. A vulture hovering near seizes hold of the meat and bears it aloft, and the jackal, returning unsuccessful from his fishing, is taunted by the woman. In the imitation of the Jataka which occurs in the Panchatantra (v. 8) her taunt is:

"The fish swims in the waters still, the vulture is off with the meat.

"Deprived of both fish and meat. Mistress Jackal, whither away?"

The jackal replies:

"Great as is my wisdom, thine is twice as great.

"No husband, no lover, no clothes, lady, whither away?"

Thus, in the Indian version the loss of the meat is a deliberate plan of the god Indra to read a lesson to the faithless wife. In all the earlier versions the dog is swimming in the stream. The passage across the bridge we get from Marie de France or her original.

SurLaLune Note

Perry 133

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Dog and the Shadow, The
Tale Author/Editor: Aesop
Book Title: Fables of Aesop, The
Book Author/Editor: Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Publisher: Macmillan & Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1902
Country of Origin: Greece
Classification: ATU 34A: The Dog Drops His Meat for the Reflection

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