The Bee and Jupiter
Of the Bee and of Iupiter
Now the euyl which men wysshe to other / cometh to hym whiche wyssheth hit / as hit appiereth by this fable / of a Bee whiche offred and gaf to Iupyter a pyece of hony / wherof Iupyter was moche Ioyous / And thenne Iupyter sayd to the bee / demaunde of me what thow wylt / and I shalle graunte and gyue hit to the gladly / And thenne the Bee prayd hym in this manere / God almyghty I pray the that thow wylt gyue to me and graunte / that who so euer shal come for to take awey my hony / yf I pryke hym / he may sondenly deye / And by cause that Iupyter loued the humayn lygnage he sayd to the Bee / Suffyse the / that who so euer shalle goo to take thy hony / yf thow pryke or stynge hym / Incontynent thow shalt deye / And thus her prayer was tourned to her grete dommage /
For men ought not to demaunde of god / but suche thynges that ben good and honest
L'Estrange's translation (1692)
JUPITER AND A BEE
A Bee made Jupiter a Present of a Pot of Honey, which was so kindly taken, that he bad her ask what she would, and it should be granted to her. The Bee desir’d it, that wherever she should set her Sting, it should be mortal. Jupiter was loth to leave Mankind at the Mercy of a little spiteful Insect, and so bad her have a care how she kill’d any body; for what Person soever she attack’d, if she left her Sting behind her, it should cost her her Life.
THE MORAL. Spiteful Prayers are no better than Curses in Disguise, and the granting of them turns commonly to the mischief of the Petitioner.
Townsend's translation (1887)
The Bee and Jupiter
A Bee from Mount Hymettus, the queen of the hive, ascended to Olympus to present Jupiter some honey fresh from her combs. Jupiter, delighted with the offering of honey, promised to give whatever she should ask. She therefore besought him, saying, "Give me, I pray thee, a sting, that if any mortal shall approach to take my honey, I may kill him." Jupiter was much displeased, for he loved the race of man, but could not refuse the request because of his promise. He thus answered the Bee: "You shall have your request, but it will be at the peril of your own life. For if you use your sting, it shall remain in the wound you make, and then you will die from the loss of it."
- Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.