Aesop vs Ambrose: Jupiter and the Monkey

Aesop’s fables are known the world over for their conciseness and easy to remember moral lessons. Ambrose Bierce couldn’t help but poke fun a bit at the seriousness of these fables, and produced his own version of Aesop’s famous tales that usually end a little more realistically. Read both versions here, or at Gutenberg.org (Aesop’s here, Ambrose’s here), or listen to them performed by me, Kay Mack.

Aesop-Jupiter and the Monkey

Jupiter issued a proclamation to all the beasts of the forest and promised a royal reward to the one whose offspring should be deemed the handsomest. The Monkey came with the rest and presented, with all a mother’s tenderness, a flat-nosed, hairless, ill-featured young Monkey as a candidate for the promised reward. A general laugh saluted her on the presentation of her son. She resolutely said, “I know not whether Jupiter will allot the prize to my son, but this I do know, that he is at least in the eyes of me his mother, the dearest, handsomest, and most beautiful of all.”

Ambrose-Jupiter and the Baby Show

Jupiter held a baby show, open to all animals, and a Monkey entered her hideous cub for a prize, but Jupiter only laughed at her.

“It is all very well,” said the Monkey, “to laugh at my offspring, but you go into any gallery of antique sculpture and look at the statues and busts of the fellows that you begot yourself.”

“’Sh! don’t expose me,” said Jupiter, and awarded her the first prize.

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