The Dog and His Shadow

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The Dog and His Shadow
by Aesop

Caxton's translation[edit]

Of the dogge and of the pyece of flessh

He that desyreth to haue other mens goodes oft he loseth his owne good / wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / In tyme passed was a dogge that wente ouer a brydge / and held in his mouthe a pyece of flesshe / and as he passed ouer a brydge / he perceyued and sawe the shadowe of hym / and of his pyece of flesshe within the water / And he wenynge that it had be another pyece of flesshe / forthwith he thought to haue take it / And as he opend his mouthe / the pyece of flesshe fylle in to the water / And thus he lost hit / Ryghte soo is of many / for whanne they thynke to robbe other / they lese theyr owne and propre good / wherfor for the loue of a vayn thynge men ought not to leue that whiche is certeyn

Ryghte soo is of many / for whanne they thynke to robbe other / they lese theyr owne and propre good / wherfor for the loue of a vayn thynge men ought not to leue that whiche is certeyn

L'Estrange's translation (1692)[edit]

A DOG AND A SHADOW

As a dog was crossing a River with a Morsel of good Flesh in his Mouth, he saw (as he thought) another Dog under the Water upon the very same Adventure. He never consider’d that the one was only the Image of the other, but out of a Greediness to get both, he chops at the Shadow, and loses the Substance.

THE MORAL All covet, all lose; which may serve for a Reproof to those that govern their Lives by Fancy and Appetite, without consulting the Honour and Justice of the Case.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Dog and His Shadow

A Dog,
crossing a bridge over a stream,
with a piece of flesh in his mouth,
saw his own shadow,
in the water and took it for that of another Dog,
with a piece of meat double his own in size,
He immediately let go of his own,
and fiercely attacked the other Dog to get his larger piece from him,
He lost both,
that which he grasped at in the water,
because it was a shadow,
and his own,
because the stream swept it away.

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Dog and the Shadow

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.