Aesop’s Fables – Not Just for Kids!

Legendary figure Aesop is presumed to have been born around June 4 in 620 B.C. Aesop was a Greek slave who, after being freed by his master, traveled and collected many stories that had been told orally throughout the ages. These stories are short, moralistic tales that usually teach some kind of lesson through the experiences of personified animals (stories in which animals speak and act like humans) . One of the most famous fables is “The Tortoise and the Hare,” in which the slow but persistent Tortoise wins a race against the fast but lazy Hare. Other popular stories are the “The Ant and the Grasshopper” and “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.”

Since 1994, Professor Copper Giloth of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has assigned her students in Art 271, Introduction to Computing in the Fine Arts, the task of illustrating the traditional Aesop’s fables along side their own retellings of the fables in a modern setting. In earlier versions, the stories are illustrated with still images set in simple HTML pages. More recently, students have been working with Adobe Flash to develop their stories as animations, some with sound and interactivity. Check them out at http://www.umass.edu/aesop/history.php.

Read some classic Aesop’s Fables online at http://tomsdomain.com/aesop/aesopmain.htm and select one that can apply to contemporary times. Look for a fable that means something to you, or that others like you can learn something from. Find a “theme” in your fable (persistence, determination, love, etc.), and then search the Web for quotes on that theme. (First find a suitable quote and then look up biographic information that will be useful.) The following is an example:

The Hare and the Tortoise

A hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing:  “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.”  The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal.  On the day appointed for the race the two started together.  The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep.  At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.

The Moral: Slow but steady wins the race.   

This fable is an excellent illustration of the power of persistence. Persistence is the act of continually pursuing something in spite of obstacles. As you go through life, things are bound to not go your way from time to time. Those who are weak may choose to give up. Those who persist can go on to greatness.

Here is one story of a great man who did not give up. He was active in politics and worked hard to be elected to Congress… and yet he did not win until his third try. Even then, when his term expired, he could not get re-elected. Later, he ran for the Senate…but, he lost again. He persisted at politics and ran for vice-president, but lost. Finally, at the age of 51, he was elected President of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Becoming successful is all about your state of mind. You must persist long enough to reach your goals. You may fail from time to time, but you must not be afraid to try. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish, if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.”

So, like the story of the Hare and the Tortoise, remember to be persistent. Though sometimes you may not be the best at something or you may have obstacles thrown in your way, if you have the right mindset you won’t give up but will work that much harder to keep moving forward. Because, as Aesop said: slow but steady wins the race.  

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