Reader re-examines the plight of the grasshopper in Aesop’s Fable


To the editor:

I read with interest Mike Schubert’s letter to the editor in the Nov. 2 edition of the Call about Aesop’s Fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant.”

It prompted me to do some research, and I stumbled across an earlier edition of the fable.

In this version, the ant actually stays inside his house while the grasshopper is forced to work in the fields so that the ant has plenty of food and a warm place for the winter.

When the grasshopper eventually objects to this arrangement, the ant has him arrested for both possession and sale of the ant’s cotton.

The ant is convicted and sent to jail, and eventually loses his home and family.

But Aesop’s publisher objected that the story portrayed the ant as too dark a character. So Aesop rewrote the fable and had the ant be the hard worker.

This seemed to please the mass audience because the fable sold millions of copies, and still ranks No. 3 on the all-time best-seller list after both the Bible and “The Art of the Deal.”

Michael Nolan