The Eagle and the Fox

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The Eagle and the Fox
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the Egle and of the foxe

How the puyssaunt & myghty must doubte the feble Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / Ther was an Egle whiche came ther as yong foxes were / and took awey one of them / and gaf hit to his yonge egles to fede them with The foxe wente after hym & praid hym to restore and gyue hym ageyne his yong foxe / And the Egle sayd that he wold not / For he was ouer hym lord and maister / And thenne the foxe fulle of shrewdnes and of malyce beganne to put to gyder grete habondaunce of strawe round aboute the tree / where vpon the egle and his yonge were in theyr nest / and kyndeled it with fyre / And whan the smoke and the flambe began to ryse vpward / the Egle ferdfulle and doubtyng the dethe of her lytylle egles restored ageyne the yonge foxe to his moder

This fable sheweth vs / how the myghty men oughte not to lette in ony thynge the smale folke / For the lytyll ryght ofte may lette and trouble the grete

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


There was a Bargain struck up betwixt an Eagle and a Fox to be wonderful good Neighbours and Friends. The one took up in a Thicket of Brushwood, and the other timber’d upon a Tree hard by. The Eagle one day when the Fox was abroad a foraging, fell into his Quarters, and carried away a whole Litter of Cubs at a Swoop. The Fox came time enough back to see the Eagle upon the Wing with her Prey in the Foot, and to send many a heavy Curse after her; but there was no overtaking her. It happen’d in a very short time after this, upon the sacrificing of a Goat, that the same Eagle made a swoop at a Piece of Flesh upon the Altar, and she took it away to her Young: But some live Coals it seems that stuck to’t, set the Nest on Fire. The Birds were not as yet fledged enough to shift for themselves, but upon sprawling and struggling to get clear of the Flame, down they tumbled, half-roasted, into the very Mouth of the Fox, that stood gaping under the Tree to see the End on’t: So that the Fox had the Satisfaction at last of devouring the Children of her Enemy in the very sight of the Dam.

THE MORAL. God reserves to himself the Punishment of faithless and oppressing Governors, and the vindication of his own Worship and Altars.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Eagle and the Fox

An Eagle and a Fox formed an intimate friendship and decided to live near each other. The Eagle built her nest in the branches of a tall tree, while the Fox crept into the underwood and there produced her young. Not long after they had agreed upon this plan, the Eagle, being in want of provision for her young ones, swooped down while the Fox was out, seized upon one of the little cubs, and feasted herself and her brood. The Fox on her return, discovered what had happened, but was less grieved for the death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near an altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly seized a piece of the flesh, and carried it, along with a burning cinder, to her nest. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and dropped down dead at the bottom of the tree. There, in the sight of the Eagle, the Fox gobbled them up.