The Mountain in Labor

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The Mountain in Labor
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the Montayn whiche shoke

Ryght so it happeth / that he that menaceth hath drede and is ferdfull / wherof Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable Of a hylle whiche beganne to tremble and shake by cause of the molle whiche delued hit / And whanne the folke sawe that the erthe beganne thus to shake / they were sore aferd and dredeful / and durst not wel come ne approche the hylle / But after whanne they were come nyghe to the Montayne / & knewe how the molle caused this hylle shakynge / theyr doubte and drede were conuerted vnto Ioye / and beganne alle to lawhe /

And therfore men ought not to doubte al folk whiche ben of grete wordes and menaces / For somme menacen that haue grete doubte

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


When Mountains cry out, People may well be excus’d the Apprehension of some prodigious Birth. This was the Case here in the Fable. The Neighbourhood were all at their Wits end, to consider what would be the Issue of that Labour, and instead of the dreadful Monster that they expected, out comes at last a ridiculous Mouse.

THE MORAL Much Ado about Nothing

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Mountain in Labor

A Mountain was once greatly agitated. Loud groans and noises were heard, and crowds of people came from all parts to see what was the matter. While they were assembled in anxious expectation of some terrible calamity, out came a Mouse.

Don't make much ado about nothing.

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Mountains in Labour

One day the Countrymen noticed that the Mountains were in labour; smoke came out of their summits, the earth was quaking at their feet, trees were crashing, and huge rocks were tumbling. They felt sure that something horrible was going to happen. They all gathered together in one place to see what terrible thing this could be. They waited and they waited, but nothing came. At last there was a still more violent earthquake, and a huge gap appeared in the side of the Mountains. They all fell down upon their knees and waited. At last, and at last, a teeny, tiny mouse poked its little head and bristles out of the gap and came running down towards them, and ever after they used to say:

"Much outcry, little outcome."