Saturday, 1 November 2014

'The Ass's skin used for a drum'

'The Ass's skin used for a drum', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 85.

The Text:

The Ass’s Skin Used for a Drum
A Miserable Ass that was ready to sink under Blows and Burdens, call’d upon Death to Deliver him from that Intolerable Oppression. Death was within Hearing it seems, and took him at his Word; but told him withal for his Comfort, that whereas other Creatures end their Misfortunes and their Lives together, You must not expect that it will be so with you; for (says Death,) they’l make Drums of your Skin, when your Carcass shall be Carrion, and never leave Drubbing of ye so long as one Piece will hold to another.

Moral: Even after death people cast aspersions on the reputation of others.

Text: Roger L’Estrange 1/437 (1692).

Selected parallels: Babrius 141. Phaedrus 4/1. Caxton, Romulus 3/18. Chambry 236. Perry 164. 
This fable is sometimes entitled the ‘Priests of Cybele’ who used to go on begging excursions with an ass to carry their belongings.

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