Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Presumption

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. I  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Presumption



There was a certain king who had a singular partiality for little dogs that barked loudly; so much so, indeed, that they usually rested in his lap. Being long accustomed to eat and sleep in this situation, they would scarcely do either elsewhere: seeming to take great pleasure in looking at him, and putting their paws upon his neck. Now it happened that an ass, who noticed this familiarity, thought to himself, "If I should sing and dance before the king, and put my feet round his neck, he would feed me also upon the greatest dainties, and suffer me to rest in his lap." Accordingly quitting his stable, he entered the hall, and running up to the king, raised his clumsy feet with difficulty around the royal neck. The servants, not understanding the ass's courteous intention, imagined that he was mad; and pulling him away, belaboured him soundly. He was then led back to the stable. (67)


My beloved, the king is Christ; the barking dogs are zealous preachers. The ass is any one who, without the necessary qualifications, presumes to take upon himself the interpretation of the word of God.

Note 67.Page 273.

We have here a new version of an Æsopian fable.