Aesop vs Ambrose: The Fisherman and the Little Fish

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-The Fisherman and the Little Fish

A fisherman who lived on the produce of his nets, one day caught a single small Fish as the result of his day’s labor. The Fish, panting convulsively, thus entreated for his life: “O Sir, what good can I be to you, and how little am I worth? I am not yet come to my full size. Pray spare my life, and put me back into the sea. I shall soon become a large fish fit for the tables of the rich, and then you can catch me again, and make a handsome profit of me.” The Fisherman replied, “I should indeed be a very simple fellow if, for the chance of a greater uncertain profit, I were to forego my present certain gain.”

Ambrose-The Fisher and the Fished

A Fisherman who had caught a very small Fish was putting it in his basket when it said:

“I pray you put me back into the stream, for I can be of no use to you; the gods do not eat fish.”

“But I am no god,” said the Fisherman.

“True,” said the Fish, “but as soon as Jupiter has heard of your exploit, he will elevate you to the deitage.  You are the only man that ever caught a small fish.”

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