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Irukandji
 
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Dyslexics of the world, untie

29 May 2014, 13:59

(The heading above has nothing to do with this story. I just put it there because I felt a bit dyslexic this morning. Must have been something I ate.)

I have always loved reading stories about the ancient Greeks. Those guys really had it made. They had gods for every occasion – and if one of them gave you a hard time, you didn’t have to become an atheist – you just moved on to worshipping the next one. Or the next. Or the next.

The Greeks were rich in culture and masters at the art of philandering, debauchery, drinking, orgies, and making war. What more could any man ask for?

They had fabulous story tellers and an enormous collection of brilliant proverbs. I particularly like: “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.” This means: “Don’t trust politicians, even those bearing gifts.” (Or something similar.)

But if there was one Greek who stood out amongst the ancients, it must surely be Aesop Thiopoulos Papageorgiou c. 620–564 BC. To me, his fables are right up there with Stephen King, Asimov, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Elton John. If Aesop was alive today, I’m sure we would have seen his stories published right here on News24.

Aesop’s fables are very similar to the parables in the Bible – except that they make much more sense. They are short enough to be read by people with stunted attention spans (which includes almost everyone, these days), His stories do not contain any explicit sex scenes, blood and gore, swear words, or racist comments – which makes them perfect for our modern, politically correct society, i.e. a society of pissies and sissies.

I have thought it prudent to write a few stories on Aesop’s fables, and to share them with you on these hallowed pages. (Some background material was gathered from Wikipedia.)

I found a *photograph of a Hellenistic (ancient Greek) statue claimed to depict Aesop (PBUH). Now let me tell you something: Aesop must have had some serious problems if he looked anything like this statue – a hunchback with no arms, no legs – a **tottie located in the region of his navel, and a beard. (Yes, to crown it all, he had a beard as well, Sakkie!)

But that’s not all: The anonymously authored literary work called The Aesop Romance, describes Aesop to be “of loathsome aspect… potbellied, misshapen of head, snub-nosed, swarthy, dwarfish, bandy-legged, short-armed, squint-eyed, liver-lipped – a portentous monstrosity.”

(No, Sakkie, any similarity or resemblance to King Showerhead of Nkandla, is purely coincidental.)

Some archaeologists have suggested that a statue of a bearded hunchback with an intellectual appearance, discovered in the 18th century – depicting what was thought to be Aesop – might actually be that of Moses, or Charlton Heston. Or Cat Stevens. Or Hashim Amla (PBUHAW). Or Father Christmas. So I guess we’ll never know what Aesop really looked like.

But be that as it may.

Like most normal people, Aesop died when he finally kicked the bucket and gave up the ghost. A statue was erected to his memory in Athens, the work of Lysippus, one of the most famous of the Greek Pississus. It is engraved with the following words:

Aesopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,

Nec generi tribui sed virtuti gloriam.

Roughly translated from Latin, it means:

“Aesopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,

Nec generi tribui sed virtuti gloriam.”

Truly, a fitting accolade and tribute to the memory of this great man – even though he was a Greek.

OK. Enough of the background and foreplay, let’s look at some of Aesop’s fables. His stories always contained a lesson, sagacious advice, a dire warning, or a moral principle. Here is one of my favourites:

The Bundle of Sticks

An old man, on the point of death, summoned his sons around him to give them some last minute advice.  He ordered his servants to bring him a bundle of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the bundle”, said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break it,” and each stick was easily broken. “You get my meaning?” asked their father.

“Yes, Father,” they all chorused, “never count your chickens before they hatch!”

“Good,” said the old man.” He blew out his second last, and then his last breath, and died.

See what I mean? Aesop was bloody brilliant!

Here’s another gem:

Hercules and the Wagoner

A man was driving his wagon along a country lane, when the wheels sank down deep into a pothole. The driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come and help him.  Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him: “Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man.  ***Goad your bullocks with the whip, and never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself.”

What important lesson did Aesop want us to learn from this story? Just this:

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

You see? You see? We should all take a page out Aesop’s book and be the wiser for it.

(BTW, I’ve only just come back from Moz. Believe me: the grass is not any greener on the other side – it’s just the same as here.)

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesop

**tottie – procreational mechanism

***Goad your bullocks – not to be confused with “bollocks.” Goading your bollocks with a whip can be a rather painful experience

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