The Fables of Phædrus
The Dogs once sent Ambassadors to Jupiter, to entreat of him a happier lot in life, and that he would deliver them from the insulting treatment of man, who gave them bread mixed with bran, and satisfied their most urgent hunger with filthy offal. The ambassadors set out, but with no hasty steps, while snuffing with their nostrils for food in every filth. Being summoned, they fail to make their appearance. After some difficulty Mercury finds them at last, and brings them up in confusion. As soon, however, as they saw the countenance of mighty Jove, in their fright they bewrayed the whole palace. Out they go, driven away with sticks; but great Jove forbade that they should be sent back. The Dogs, wondering that their Ambassadors did not return, and suspecting that they had committed something disgraceful, after a while ordered others to be appointed to aid them. Rumour soon betrayed the former Ambassadors. Dreading that something of a similar nature may happen a second time, they stuff the Dogs behind with perfumes, and plenty of them. They give their directions; the Ambassadors are dispatched; at once they take their departure. They beg for an audience, and forthwith obtain it. Then did the most mighty Father of the Gods take his seat on his throne, and brandish his thunders; all things began to shake. The Dogs in alarm, so sudden was the crash, in a moment let fall the perfumes with their dung. All cry out, that the affront must be avenged. But before proceeding to punishment, thus spoke Jupiter:— “It is not for a King to send Ambassadors away, nor is it a difficult matter to inflict a proper punishment on the offence; but by way of judgment this is the reward you shall have. I don’t forbid their return, but they shall be famished with hunger, lest they be not able to keep their stomachs in order. And as for those who sent such despicable Ambassadors as you, they shall never be free from the insults of man.”
And so it is, that even now the Dogs of the present day are in expectation of their Ambassadors. When one of them sees a strange Dog appear, he snuffs at his tail.
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