Aesop’s Fables Quiz

by Mark Scaramella, December 13, 2012

Aesop'sFablesThere are well over 600 Aesop’s Fables. Some are well known. Some are obscure. Here are a few of them. We’ll give you the fable, you tell us what he moral is.

(Note: Since the morals of the fables can be somewhat subjective, there are no technically “wrong” answers, but some are better than others and in some cases more than one is better than others. In the answers below there are some questions with more than one answer.)

1. A miser hid his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden. Every week he dug it up and gloated over his gains. A robber, who noticed this, dug up the gold and stole it. When the miser next came to gloat over his treasures, he found only the empty hole. He tore his hair, and raised such an outcry that all the neighbors came. The miser told them how he used to visit his gold.

“Did you ever take any of it out?” asked one of them.

“No,” the miser replied. “I only came to look at it.”

“Then come again and look at the hole,” said a neighbor. “It will do you just as much good.”

Moral:

a. If you’re going to hoard, don’t gloat over it.

b. If you’re going to gloat over your wealth, don’t let anybody see you doing it.

c. Hoarding doesn’t do anybody any good.

d. A penny saved is a penny earned.

 

2. A horse had a plain entirely to himself. Then a stag arrived to share his pasture. The horse was resentful and asked a man if he would help him to punish the stag. The man said he’d help if the horse would accept a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him. The horse agreed and allowed the man to mount him. From that hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the stag, the horse had enslaved himself to the service of man.

Moral:

a. Liberty is too big a price to pay for revenge.

b. Don’t change horses in midstream.

c. Share your pasture with your fellow animals.

d. If you need a horse, send a stag into his pasture.

 

3. A drunken man was lying in the road with a bleeding nose, upon which he had fallen, when a pig passed by.

“You wallow fairly well,” said the Pig, “but, my fine fellow, you have much to learn about rooting.”

Moral:

a. Don’t try to root into the ground unless you’re sober or a pig.

b. Don’t get falling down drunk.

c. Pay no attention to wise-cracking pigs.

d. Don’t try to wallow unless you can also root.

 

4. A wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day the wolf found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The lamb that belonged to the sheep, whose skin the wolf was wearing, began to follow the wolf in the sheep’s pelt; so, leading the lamb a little away from the flock, he soon made a meal of her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.

Moral:

a. Don’t follow people who are pretending to be like you.

b. If you’re hungry dress up like your food.

c. Don’t leave your clothes lying around where your enemies can pick it up.

d. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

 

5. An ass, having put on the lion’s skin, roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met in his wanderings. At last coming upon a fox, he tried to frighten him also, but the fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, “I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray.”

Moral:

a. Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.

b. You can publish a daily paper in Santa Rosa but if your editorials sound like the braying of an ass people will lose respect for you.

c. You can be elected Governor of a large state but you can still be an ass.

d. All of the above.

 

6. A warden of a penitentiary was putting locks on the doors of all the cells one day when a mechanic said to him: “Those locks can all be opened from the inside — you are very imprudent.”

The warden did not look up from his work, but said: “If that is called imprudence, I wonder what would be called a thoughtful provision against the vicissitudes of fortune.”

Moral:

a. Don’t let stupid questions lead you away from your well-considered plans.

b. Don’t get the cart before the horse.

c. Don’t accuse people of imprudence until you’ve asked them what they’re doing.

d. Necessity is the mother of invention.

 

7. The pigeons, terrified by the appearance of an owl, called upon a hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When the pigeons had admitted the hawk into the coop, they found that he made havoc and slew a larger number of them in one day than the owl could pounce upon in a whole year.

Moral:

a. Avoid a cure that is worse than the disease.

b. If you want to take over the flock, first scare them with a minor fright.

c. Beware of people who are too eager to help.

d. All of the above.

 

8. A man lying at the point of death called his wife to his bedside and asked her for one final proof of her affection and fidelity. “In my desk you will find a crimson candle, which has been blessed by the High Priest and has a special mystical significance. Swear to me that while it is in existence you will not remarry.”

The woman swore and the man soon died. At the funeral the woman stood at the front of the funeral, quietly holding a lighted crimson candle till it was wasted entirely away.

Moral:

a. You can’t control events after you’ve died.

b. Don’t ask your relatives to swear on ephemeral things.

c. Don’t make unreasonable demands on your heirs.

d. Burn all your candles yourself before you die.

 

9. A woman possessed a hen that gave her an egg every day. She often pondered how she might obtain two eggs daily instead of one, and at last, to gain her purpose, determined to give the hen a double allowance of barley. From that day the hen became fat and indolent, and never laid another egg.

Moral:

b. Chickens will always come home to roost.

a. Do not be so greedy that you ruin your source of income.

c. If you’re going to double your hen’s food, give it something that’s not fattening.

d. If you want more eggs, give your chickens growth hormones.

 

10. One day the mountains trembled; smoke came belching out of their summits, the earth quaked, trees crashed, and huge rocks tumbled. Something horrible was going to happen. People gathered to see what terrible thing would happen. 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:

a. The more the show of effort the punier the outcome.

b. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

c. The bigger the committee, the smaller the output.

d.  All of the above.

 

11. A bitch, ready to give birth, earnestly begged a shepherd for a place where she might litter. When her request was granted, she asked for permission to rear her puppies in the same spot. The shepherd again consented. In time the bitch, protected by the bodyguard of her pups, who had grown up and were able to defend themselves, asserted her exclusive right to the place and would not permit the shepherd to approach.

Moral:

a. Little puppies can grow up into dangerous dogs.

b. Parenting is not important.

c. Only lend something if you’re prepared to give it away.

d. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

 

12. A frog left his home in the marsh and proclaimed to all the beasts that he was a learned physician, skilled in the use of drugs and able to heal all diseases. A fox asked him, “How can you pretend to prescribe for others, when you are unable to heal your own lame gait and wrinkled skin?”

Moral:

a. Don’t believe boastful frogs.

b. We’ve all got some warts.

c. Doctors should stay away from foxes.

d. Physician heal thyself.

 

13. A serpent happened into a blacksmith’s shop. As he slithered over the floor he felt his skin pricked by a raspy file lying there. In a rage he turned round upon it and tried to dart his fangs into it; but he could do no harm to the heavy iron and soon give up his wrath.

Moral:

a. You can’t fight city hall.

b. There’s no point attacking inanimate objects.

c. Use a file to sharpen your fangs, not to practice your biting.

d. It feels good when you stop banging your head against a wall.

 

14. A cat was looking at a King, as permitted by the proverb.

“Well,” said the monarch, observing her inspection of his royal person, “how do you like me?”

“I can imagine a King,” said the cat, “whom I should like better.”

“For example?” asked the monarch.

The cat replied, “The King of the Mice.”

The sovereign was so pleased with the cat’s wit that he gave her permission to scratch his Prime Minister’s eyes out.

Moral:

a. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

b. Mice make better rulers than cats.

c. You can use your wit to rid yourself of bad government.

d. Kings shouldn’t ask their subjects what they think of the King.

 

15. A fox and a monkey were traveling together. They happened upon a cemetery full of monuments. “All these monuments which you see,” said the monkey, “are erected in honor of my ancestors, who were in their day freedmen and citizens of great renown.” The fox replied, “You have chosen a most appropriate subject for your falsehoods, as I am sure none of your ancestors will be able to contradict you.”

Moral:

a. Don’t tell lies in cemeteries.

b. A false tale often betrays itself.

c. Don’t believe a monkey in a cemetery.

d. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

 

16. A gnat settled on the horn of a bull, and sat there a long time. Just as he was about to fly off, he made a buzzing noise, and asked the bull if he would like him to go. The bull replied, “I did not know you had come, and I shall not miss you when you go away.”

Moral:

a. Some people are of more important in their own eyes than in the eyes of their neighbors.

b. If you’re going to light on a bull, sting him first to let him know you’re there.

c. Don’t make a fuss around a bull.

d. Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.

 

17. An ass congratulated a horse on being so ungrudgingly and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat and not even that without hard work. But when war broke out, a heavily armed soldier mounted the horse, and riding him to the charge, rushed into the very midst of the enemy. The horse was wounded and fell dead on the battlefield. Then the ass, seeing all these things, changed his mind, and commiserated with the horse.

Moral:

a. Don’t be an ass.

b. If you’re an ass, let the horses do the fighting.

c. What may first seem a blessing may instead be a curse.

d. Don’t envy another’s position in life.

 

18. A bear boasted very much of his philanthropy, saying that of all animals he was the most tender in his regard for man, for he had such respect for him that he would not even touch his dead body. A fox hearing these words said with a smile to the bear, “Oh! that you would only eat the dead and not the living.”

Moral:

a. He who boasts of small things is covering his greater faults.

b. Don’t eat live animals.

c. Don’t get near a bear unless you’re dead.

d. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

 

19. A lion who was dying summoned the animals to hear his last Will and Testament. The goat came to the lion’s cave and listened for a long time. Then a sheep went in, and before she came out a calf came up to receive the last wishes of the Lord of the Beasts. But then the lion seemed to recover, and came to the mouth of his cave, and saw the fox, who had been waiting outside for some time. “Why do you not come to pay your respects to me?” said the lion to the fox.

“I beg your Majesty’s pardon,” said the fox, “but I noticed the track of the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many hoof-marks going in, I see none coming out. Until the animals that have entered your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air.”

Moral:

a. It is easier to get into trouble than to get out of it.

b. Sheep, goats and calves are so gullible that they may vote for Jerry Brown.

c. Sheep, goats and calves are tasty creatures.

d. The requests of the king should be viewed with suspicion.

 

20. The frogs were living happily in their swamp, splashing about with no cares or troubles. Some of them thought they needed a king and a proper constitution, so they determined to draw up a petition to God to give them what they wanted. God laughed at their croaking, and threw a big log into the swamp with a big splash. The frogs were frightened at first until they saw that it didn’t move. For some time the frogs went on about their business without taking notice of their new King Log lying in their midst. But this did not suit them, so they sent another petition to God. “We want a real king; one that will really rule over us.” This made God angry, so he sent them a big stork that soon set to work gobbling them all up. The frogs tried to repent but it was too late.

Moral:

a. Better a big dumb king than a greedy king.

b. A ruler who does nothing might make a pretty good ruler.

c. If you want to rule the frogs, first send them a log.

d. Better no rule than cruel rule.

 

Answers:

1. c; 2. a; 3. c; 4. d; 5. d; 6. a; 7. d; 8. a or b; 9. a; 10. d; 11. c; 12. d; 13. b; 14. c; 15. b; 16. a; 17. c or d; 18. a; 19. a or d; 20. b or d.

 

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