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1001 Stories Collection

The Fox and the Crow

Added on 30th June 2020

Oral tradition Ancient Greek fable
Creator Aesop

A fable with a cautionary message about falling for flattery.

Story

A crow finds a piece of cheese and flies up to a branch to eat it. A hungry fox sees the cheese and wants it for himself. But the crow is perched out of reach. Can the cunning fox trick the crow and steal its snack?

Why we chose it

Children often enjoy animal fables which is why they are used in many cultures for teaching moral lessons. This classic animal fable cautions against flattery. It has been collected in many languages, including a Hebrew version, which appeared in a collection of Fox Tales compiled by the medieval scribe Berechiah hah-Nakdan. Also known as Benedictus le Poncteur, Berechiah is believed to have lived for several years in Oxford's Jewish quarter, near the site of today's Story Museum. The Bodleian has a copy of his manuscript.

Where it came from

Aesop is thought to have been an ex-slave and storyteller, active in Greece around 620 to 560 BCE. Each of his fables uses animals to teach important moral lessons. Aesop never wrote his fables down, and is unlikely to have created all of these stories himself. The first written record of Aesop's fables came several centuries after his death, most famously by the Greek author Babrius.

Where it went next

Similar stories appear in both the Hindu Panchatantra and the Buddhist Jatakas, although it is unclear whether they were influenced by Aesop or the other way round. In 1484, William Caxton translated the fables into English in one of the first English books ever printed. The Fox and the Crow has gone on to inspire countless artworks, films, poems and books, and is depicted three times in the border of the Bayeux Tapestry to highlight the theme of powerful men succumbing to flattery.

Associated stories

Aesop's other fables include The Tortoise and the Hare, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, The Lion and the Mouse, and The Boy who Cried Wolf.

Listen to the story on our website told by Alex Kanefsky.

Added on 30th June 2020

Oral tradition Ancient Greek fable
Creator Aesop