The Ant and the Fly

048. THE ANT AND THE FLY. One day there happened some words between the ant and the fly about precedency, and the point was argued with great warmth and eagerness on both sides. Says the fly, “It is well known what my pretensions are, and how justly grounded. There is never a sacrifice that is offered, but I always taste of the entrails even before the gods themselves. I have one of the uppermost seats at church, and frequent the altar as often as anybody. I have a free admission at court, and can never want the king's ear, for I sometimes sit upon his shoulder. There is not a maid of honour, or handsome young creature comes in my way, but if I like her, I settle between her balmy lips. And then I eat and drink the best of everything, without having any occasion to work for my living. What is there that such country pusses as you enjoy, to be compared to a life like this?”
The ant, who by this time had composed herself, replied, with a great deal of temper, and no less severity: “Indeed, to be a guest at the entertainment of the gods is a very great honour, if one is invited, but I should not care to be a disagreeable intruder anywhere. You talk of the king and the court, and the fine ladies there, with great familiarity; but as I have been getting in my harvest, in summer, I have seen a certain person, under the town walls, making a hearty meal upon something that is not so proper to be mentioned. As to your frequenting the altars, you are in the right to take sanctuary where you are like to meet with the least disturbance; but I have known people before now run to altars, and call it devotion, when they have been shut out of all good company, and had nowhere else to go. You don’t work for your living, you say: true—therefore when you have played away the summer, and winter comes, you have nothing to live upon: and while you are starving with cold and hunger, I have a good warm house over my head, and plenty of provisions about me.” [more info]

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