A TORTOISE desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her trouble. The Eagle agreed and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with her talons soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the Eagle: “Tortoise is good eating.” “The shell is too hard,” said the Eagle in reply. “The rocks will soon crack the shell,” was the Crow’s answer; and the Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a sharp rock, and the two birds made a hearty meal of the Tortoise.
Never soar aloft on an enemy’s pinions.
From Avian, though it also occurs in the Greek prose Æsop 419, from Babrius 115. Ælian's story of the Death of Æschylus because an eagle mistook his bald pate for a rock and dropped the tortoise on it, is supposed to be derived from this fable. It is certainly Indian, like most of Avian's, and occurs in the Kacchapa Jātaka. Here a Tortoise is carried by two birds, holding a stick in its mouth, and falls on opening its mouth to rebuke the birds that are scoffing at it. Buddha uses the incident as a lesson to a talkative king. Cf. North's Bidpai, ed. Jacobs 174, and Indian Fairy Tales, number 13.
Tortoise and the Birds, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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ATU 225A: The Tortoise Lets Itself be Carried Away by Birds