The Bald Man and the Fly, an illustration by John Vernon Lord
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.
The Bald Man and the Fly
A Fly bit the bare pate of a Bald Man; who, endeavouring to crush it, gave himself a heavy blow. Then said the Fly jeeringly: “You wanted to revenge the sting of a tiny insect with death; what will you do to yourself, who have added insult to injury?” The Man made answer: “I am easily reconciled to myself, because I know that there was no intention of doing harm. But you, worthless insect,, and one of a contemptible race, who take a delight in drinking human blood, I could wish to destroy you, even at a heavier penalty.”
This fable teaches that pardon is to be granted to him who errs through mistake. But him who is designedly mischievous, I deem to be deserving of any punishment.
Moral: If a wrong to someone is done by accident it should be pardoned, but if it is done intentionally a punishment is justly deserved.
Text: Henry Thomas Riley 1883 (Phaedrus 5/3, in which we get the expression ‘adding insult to injury’).
Selected Parallels: Caxton, Romulus 2/12. Perry 525 . TMI J2102.3..