The Fables of Phædrus
While a Fox, digging a lair, was throwing out the earth, and making deeper and more numerous burrows, she came to the farthest recesses of a Dragon’s den, who was watching some treasure hidden there. As soon as the Fox perceived him, she began:— “In the first place, I beg that you will pardon my unintentional intrusion; and next, as you see clearly enough that gold is not suited to my mode of life, have the goodness to answer me: what profit do you derive from this toil, or what is the reward, so great that you should be deprived of sleep, and pass your life in darkness?” “None at all,” replied the other; “but this task has been assigned me by supreme Jove.” “Then you neither take anything for yourself, nor give to another?” “Such is the will of the Fates.” “Don’t be angry then, if I say frankly: the man is born under the displeasure of the Gods who is like you.”
As you must go to that place to which others have gone before, why in the blindness of your mind do you torment your wretched existence? To you I address myself, Miser, joy of your heir, who rob the Gods of their incense, yourself of food; who hear with sorrow the musical sound of the lyre; whom the joyous notes of the pipes torment; from whom the price of provisions extorts a groan; who, while adding some farthings to your estate, offend heaven by your sordid perjuries; who are for cutting down every expense at your funeral, for fear Libitina should be at all a gainer at the expense of your property.
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