The Bald Man and the Fly

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The Bald Man and the Fly
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the balled man / and of the flye /

Of a lytel euylle may wel come a gretter / Wherof Esope recyteth suche a fable / Of a flye / whiche pryked a man vpon his bald hede / And whanne he wold haue smyte her / she flewgh awey / and thus he smote hym self / wherof the flye beganne to lawhe / And the bald man sayd to her / Ha a euylle beest thow demaundest wel thy dethe / yf I smote my self wherof thow lawhest and mocquest me / but yf I had hytte the / thow haddest be thefor slayne /

And therfore men sayen comynly that of the euylle of other / men ought not to lawhe ne scorne / But the Iniuryous mocquen and scornen the world / and geteth many enemyes / For the whiche cause oftyme it happeth that of a fewe wordes euyll sette / cometh a grete noyse and daunger

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Bald Man and the Fly

A Fly bit the bare head of a Bald Man who, endeavoring to destroy it, gave himself a heavy slap. Escaping, the Fly said mockingly, "You who have wished to revenge, even with death, the Prick of a tiny insect, see what you have done to yourself to add insult to injury?' The Bald Man replied, "I can easily make peace with myself, because I know there was no intention to hurt. But you, an ill-favored and contemptible insect who delights in sucking human blood, I wish that I could have killed you even if I had incurred a heavier penalty."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Bald Man and the Fly

There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot summer's day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging him from time to time. The Man aimed a blow at his little enemy, but whacks palm came on his head instead; again the Fly tormented him, but this time the Man was wiser and said:

"You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable enemies."