Folk-Lore/Volume 1/Miscellanea (September)

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A Jataka in Pausanias.—Yet one more Jataka story in Greek, beyond those mentioned by Mr. Jacobs in his Æsop. The story of Ocnus and the She-Ass (Pausanias, x, 29) is found in Jataka, No. 77, “The Wonderful Dreams.” I transcribe from my translation in MS.

[The 7th Dream.] “A man was twisting a rope, and as he twisted it he dropped it at his feet. A hungry she-jackal lay under the chair on which he sat, and she devoured it without his seeing what happened. That is what I saw, and that is my seventh dream. What will come of it?

“This dream, too, will come to pass in the future. In days to come women shall be fond of men, fond of strong drink, fond of finery, fond of the streets, fond of enjoyment. Their husbands will till the field or tend the cattle, and gather wealth with toiling and moiling; the women will drink with their lovers, load themselves with garlands, scents, and perfumes; they will leave the urgent duties of the house, they will peep out of holes up in the outside wall to look for their lovers, they will manage to get broth and food of all kinds, even if they have to grind the seed which should be sown on the morrow. Thus they devour all their husbands have earned, just like the jackal that lay down below the chair and devoured the rope as it fell at the feet of the man that was twisting it.”

Pausanias, in his account of Delphi, gives the following tale:—“After these there is a picture of a man seated, whom an inscription declares to be Ocnus. He is represented as twisting a rope, and a she-ass which stands by him eats the rope as it is twisted. It is said that this Ocnus was an industrious man who had an extravagant wife; all that he saved by his work she would squander without delay. This is what they would have Polygnotus to mean by his allegorical picture of Ocnus. I know that the Ionians have a proverb which they use when they see a man toiling to no purpose—‘This fellow is making Ocnus’s rope.’ ”

Christ’s College, Cambridge, June 6, 1890.