Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Good Old Aesop: The Man and the Snake

Aesop certainly knew how to tell a tale, and how to pinpoint human behavior. This tale, which has been told and re-told in many cultures (some probably even pre-dating Aesop--he got his tales from somewhere, after all!) was mentioned by a storytelling friend recently, and it seems apt for our times.

The Man and the Snake

 A man was out walking one cold winter day when he heard a rustling sound nearby. he investigated and found a snake, curled up near a rock. 

The snake looked up and spoke. "I am about to die. It is too cold for me. Please, put me under your coat and warm me."

"No," said the man. "I know you. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite will kill me."

"No," said the snake. I promise I will not bite you if you will save my life."

Finally the man gave in. He picked up the snake and tucked it into his jacket, where the heat from his body would provide warmth. When he reached his home he walked over to the fireplace and unbuttoned his jacket. As he pulled the snake out the snake struck, sinking its fangs deep into the man's arm.

"What did you do?" the man cried. "Why did you bite me? I saved your life! I trusted you!"

"Ah," said the snake. as the man laid dying on the floor. "Yes, you saved me. But you knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

This story is often told by storytellers as a warning against drugs and other potential addictions and addictive behaviors.

There are many other versions of this story. Here are a half dozen of online sources:

Wikipedia offers a wide variety of versions of the story.

Fables of Aesop includes this story along with many more.

First People website has a Cherokee tale with the same theme.

Storyteller Mike Lockett offers his adaptation of the story on his site.

The venerable Snopes explores a few variants with different creatures in the starring roles. 

There's even a song by Johnny Rivers about this fable:

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Good Old Aesop, good one for todays world.

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