The Power of Fables

Demades, an orator, tried getting people to listen but they would not until he started a fable. He stopped mid-fable chiding them for avoiding truth.

Don’t listen to fools when wisdom is available.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Demades, a famous Greek orator, was once addressing an assembly at Athens on a subject of great importance, and in vain tried to fix the attention of his hearers. They laughed among themselves, watched the sports of the children, and in twenty other ways showed their want of concern in the subject of the discourse. Demades, after a short pause, spoke as follows: “Ceres one day journeyed in company with a Swallow and an Eel.” At this there was marked attention, and every ear strained now to catch the words of the orator. “The party came to a river,” continued he. “The Eel swam across, and the Swallow flew over.” He then resumed the subject of his harangue. A great cry, however, arose from the people. “And Ceres? and Ceres?” cried they. “What did Ceres do?” “Why, the goddess was, and indeed she is now,” replied he, “mightily offended that people should have their ears open to any sort of foolery, and shut to words of truth and wisdom.”

1001Demades Orator et Fabella

Demades orator, cum Athenis olim contionem haberet, nec eum cives animis attentis audirent, sed potius, ut Aesopicam aliquam fabellam narraret, enixe rogarent, ita demum exorsus est: “Ceres, hirundo, et anguilla iter una faciebant. Cum vero ad quemdam fluvium pervenissent, hirundo quidem supervolavit, anguilla amnem subiit …” Tum ipsis, quid Ceres egisset, interrogantibus, “Vobis,” inquit, “vehementer illa succensuit quod, rei publicae curis neglectis, Aesopicam fabulam lubentius audiatis.”

Perry #063