The Ox and the Frog

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the Oxe / and of the frogge / whiche wold haue compared her to hym

The poure ought not to compare hym self to hym which is ryche and myghty / As sayth this fable of a frogge / whiche was in a medowe / where she aspyed and sawe an oxe whiche pastured / She wold make her self as grete and as myghty as the oxe / and by her grete pryde she beganne to swelle ageynste the oxe / And demaunded of his children yf she was not as grete as the oxe and as myghty / And theyr children ansuerd and sayd nay moder / For to loke and behold on the oxe / it semeth of yow to be nothynge / And thenne the frogge beganne more to swelle / And when the oxe saw her pryde / the tradde and thrested / her with his fote / and brake her bely /

Therfore hit is not good to the poure to compare hym self to the ryche / wherfore men sayn comynly / Swelle not thy self / to thende that thow breste not

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


As a huge over-grown Oxe was grazing in a Meadow, an old envious Frog that stood gaping at him hard by, call’d out to her little ones, to take Notice of the Bulk of that monstrous Beast; and see, says she, if I don’t make myself now the bigger of the two. So she strain’d once, and twice, and went still swelling on and on, till in the Conclusion she forc’d herself, and burst.

THE MORAL. Betwixt Pride, Envy, and Ambition, Men fansy themselves to be bigger than they are, and other People to be less: And this Tumour swells itself at last till it makes all fly.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Ox and the Frog

An Ox drinking at a pool trod on a brood of young frogs and crushed one of them to death. The Mother coming up, and missing one of her sons, inquired of his brothers what had become of him. "He is dead, dear Mother; for just now a very huge beast with four great feet came to the pool and crushed him to death with his cloven heel." The Frog, puffing herself out, inquired, "if the beast was as big as that in size." "Cease, Mother, to puff yourself out," said her son, "and do not be angry; for you would, I assure you, sooner burst than successfully imitate the hugeness of that monster."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Frog and the Ox

"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of a pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two."

"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I could easily make myself quite as broad; just you see." So he blew himself out, and blew himself out, and blew himself out. "Was he as big as that?" asked he.

"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog.

Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox was as big as that.

"Bigger, father, bigger," was the reply.

So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and swelled and swelled and swelled. And then he said: "I'm sure the Ox is not as big as this."

But at this moment he burst.

Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.