The Ass and His Shadow

A Traveler hired an Ass. The day was hot and the Traveler sat in the shadow of the Ass. The Owner argued he didn’t hire the shadow. Ass left as they argued.

In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A traveler hired an Ass to convey him to a distant place. The day being intensely hot, and the sun shining in its strength, the Traveler stopped to rest, and sought shelter from the heat under the Shadow of the Ass. As this afforded only protection for one, and as the Traveler and the owner of the Ass both claimed it, a violent dispute arose between them as to which of them had the right to the Shadow. The owner maintained that he had let the Ass only, and not his Shadow. The Traveler asserted that he had, with the hire of the Ass, hired his Shadow also. The quarrel proceeded from words to blows, and while the men fought, the Ass galloped off.


In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Ass Shadow

Milo Winter (1919)

A Traveler had hired an Ass to carry him to a distant part of the country. The owner of the Ass went with the Traveler, walking beside him to drive the Ass and point out the way.

The road led across a treeless plain where the Sun beat down fiercely. So intense did the heat become, that the Traveler at last decided to stop for a rest, and as there was no other shade to be found, the Traveler sat down in the shadow of the Ass.

Now the heat had affected the Driver as much as it had the Traveler, and even more, for he had been walking. Wishing also to rest in the shade cast by the Ass, he began to quarrel with the Traveler, saying he had hired the Ass and not the shadow it cast.

The two soon came to blows, and while they were fighting, the Ass took to its heels.


In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Ass’s Shadow)

A Man, one hot day, hired an Ass, with his Driver, to carry some merchandise across a sandy plain. The sun’s rays were overpowering, and, unable to advance further without a temporary rest, he called upon the Driver to stop, and proceeded to sit down in the Shadow of the Ass. The Driver, however, a lusty fellow, rudely pushed him away, and sat down on the spot himself.” Nay, friend,” said the Driver, “when you hired this Ass of me [mine?] you said nothing about the Shadow. If now you want that too, you must pay for it.”

1001Asinus et Umbra Eius

Demosthenes, causam orans, cum iudices parum attentos videret, “Paulisper,” inquit, “aures mihi praebete; rem vobis novam et iucundam narrabo.” Cum aures arrexissent, “Iuvenis,” inquit, “quispiam asinum conduxerat, quo Athenis Megaram profecturus uteretur. In itinere cum sol ureret neque esset umbraculum, deposuit clitellas et sub asino consedit, cuius umbra tegeretur. Id vero agaso vetabat, clamans asinum locatum esse, non umbram asini. Alter cum contra contenderet, tandem in ius ambulant.” Haec locutus, Demosthenes, ubi homines arrectis auribus auscultantes vidit, abiit. Tum revocatus a iudicibus rogatusque ut reliquam fabulam enarraret, “Quid,” inquit, “de asini umbra libet audire? Causam hominis de vita periclitantis non audietis?”

Perry #460