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The Ant and Grasshopper: An Aesop Fable

As people all around the world begin the process of recovering from the financial excesses of the recent past, it’s instructive to hear again Aesop’s fable about the “Ant and the Grasshopper.” Many of us heard it in school. Now’s a good time to reconsider it’s meaning.

The Ants and the Grasshopper (Version One)
The Ants were spending a fine winter’s day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, “Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?” He replied, “I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing.” They then said in derision: “If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter.”

Translation: George Fyler Townsend

The Ant and the Grasshopper (Version Two)
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Translated by: Joseph Jacobs

King Solomon also had something to say on the subject — Book of Proverbs 6:6-9:

“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard!”

What I find interesting is that this is aimed at people who didn’t want to work diligently; but in our current financial debacle people could be hard workers and still drown from excessive spending. I guess the difference between then and now is that back then it wasn’t easy to get credit.

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