The Fox and the Mask

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The Fox and the Mask
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the wulf and of the dede mans hede

Many one ben whiche haue grete worship and glorye / but noo prudence / ne noo wysedom they haue in them wherof Esope reherceth suche a fable / Of a wulf which found a dede mans hede / the whiche he torned vp so doune with his foote / And sayd / Ha a how fayr hast thow be and playsaunt / And now thow hast in the neyther wytte / ne beaute / & yet thow arte withoute voys and withoute ony thought /

And therfore men ought not only to behold the beaulte and fayrenesse of the body / but only the goodnes of the courage / For somtyme men gyuen glorye and worship to some / whiche haue deseruyd to haue hit /

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


As a Fox was rumidging among a great many carv’d Figures, there was one very extraordinary Piece among the rest. He took it up, and when he had consider’d it a-while, Well, (says he) what Pity ‘tis that so exquisite an Out-side of a Head should not have one Grain of Sense in’t.

THE MORAL. ‘Tis not the Barber or the Taylor that makes the Man: and ‘tis no new thing to see a fine wrought Head without so much as one Grain of Salt in’t.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Fox and the Mask

A Fox entered the house of an actor and, rummaging through all his properties, came upon a Mask, an admirable imitation of a human head. He placed his paws on it and said, "What a beautiful head! Yet it is of no value, as it entirely lacks brains."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Fox and the Mask

A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre. Suddenly he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very frightened; but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as actors use to put over their face. "Ah," said the Fox, "you look very fine; it is a pity you have not got any brains."

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.