March 02, 2021

#08-053: The Frogs Ask for a King

cartoon of a tall wading bird with a crown on its head and a frog in its beak, as other frogs scatter into the nearby reeds
The Heron as king

Note: Many writers have used stories to comment on the social or political situations of their day. Aesop, the ancient Greek fabulist, was one such writer. Perhaps it was his life as a slave that had sensitized him to issues of justice and equity. 

Get Ready: What (if anything) makes a "good king"?

In Aesop's fable "The Frogs Ask for a King," he made some interesting if oblique observations on the nature of government, especially in the form of monarchy.

The frogs had been happily living in the swamp for the longest time, when, somehow, they got the idea in their heads that they needed a king.

"But how should we get such an august personage?" they wondered, until at last after long debate they decided to send ambassadors to Jupiter, King of the Gods, to ask for a king of their own.

Now, Jupiter, being a god, knew how silly these creatures were, and thought that he could trick them by simply throwing a huge log into the lake. When it landed it made a huge KERSPLASH! and they thought for sure it was terrifying in its power. For a time, they hid themselves from its presence and did not dare approach it in any way, in fear for their lives, and stayed deep in the swamp's depths.

Finally, however, they summoned the courage to come closer--where they discovered that the log wasn't doing anything at all! They climbed up and squatted on it in contempt, or gamboled about on it with great disrespect.

Realizing that this "king" was useless, they sent another delegation to Jupiter and requested another, better, king. So he sent them an eel, who, though he treated them amiably, nevertheless had little interest in the lives or well-being of frogs.

Again dissatisfied at the ineffectiveness of their ruler, they sent yet another embassy, requesting a ruler with greater might and majesty.

Jupiter's patience had run thin, and he was annoyed with their barrage of requests and complaints. So this time he sent them a heron. The great bird made it his business to scoop up frogs in his bill day after day and eat them, until at last, not one complaining CROAK! could be heard in the swamp.


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Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. ambassadors
  2. amiably
  3. barrage
  4. contempt
  5. fabulist
  6. gamboled
  7. oblique
  8. personage
  9. sensitized (him)
  10. summoned

  1. skipped about; frolicked
  2. made (him) aware of; raised his consciousness of
  3. an overwhelming quantity
  4. official representatives
  5. a person, especially one very distinguished or important
  6. in a friendly manner
  7. called forth; brought out
  8. indirect; not explicit
  9. the feeling of looking down on someone or something
  10. a person who writes fables

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 2, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. f; 3. c; 4. i; 5. j; 6. a; 7. h; 8. e; 9. b; 10. g