The Truthful Man, the Liar, and the Apes

A Liar and a Truthful Man, while travelling together, chanced to come into the land of the Apes. One of the number, who had made himself King, seeing them, ordered them t …

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A Liar and a Truthful Man, while travelling together, chanced to come into the land of the Apes. One of the number, who had made himself King, seeing them, ordered them to be detained, that he might learn what men said of him, and at the same time he ordered all the Apes to stand in lengthened array on the right and left; and that a throne should be placed for himself, as he had formerly seen was the practice with the Kings among men. After this he questions the men so ordered to be brought before him: “What do you think of me, strangers?” “You seem to be a most mighty King,” the Liar replied. “What of these whom you see now about me?” “These are ministers, these are lieutenants, and leaders of troops.” The Ape thus lyingly praised, together with his crew, orders a present to be given to the flatterer. On this the Truth-teller remarked to himself: “If so great the reward for lying, with what gifts shall I not be presented, if, according to my custom, I tell the truth?” The Ape then turns to the Truthful Man: “And what do you think of me and those whom you see standing before me?” He made answer: “You are a genuine Ape, and all these are Apes, who are like you.” The King, enraged, ordered him to be torn with teeth and claws, because he had told the truth.
A courtly lie is praised by the wicked; plain-spoken truth brings destruction on the good.

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