The Bee and Jupiter

A Queen Bee gave honey to Jupiter and asked, in return, for a sting against those who attack. Jupiter gave her a sting but with it comes death if used.

Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A bee from Mount Hymettus, the queen of the hive, ascended to Olympus to present Jupiter some honey fresh from her combs. Jupiter, delighted with the offering of honey, promised to give whatever she should ask. She therefore besought him, saying, “Give me, I pray thee, a sting, that if any mortal shall approach to take my honey, I may kill him.” Jupiter was much displeased, for he loved the race of man, but could not refuse the request because of his promise. He thus answered the Bee: “You shall have your request, but it will be at the peril of your own life. For if you use your sting, it shall remain in the wound you make, and then you will die from the loss of it.”

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

A Bee made Jupiter a present of a pot of honey, which was so kindly taken that he bade her ask what she would, and it should be granted her. The Bee desired that wherever she should set her sting it might be mortal. Jupiter was loth to leave mankind at the mercy of a little spiteful insect, and was annoyed at the ill-nature of her wish. He therefore said that, while for his promise sake he would give her the power to harm, she must be careful how she used the power, for where she planted her sting she would leave it, and with it lose her life.

Moral

Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

A bee made Jupiter a present of a pot of hony, which was so kindly taken, that he bad her ask what she would, and it should be granted her. The bee desir’d, that where ever she should set her sting, it might be mortal. Jupiter was loath to leave mankind at the mercy of a little spiteful insect, and so bad her have a care how she kill’d any body; for what person soever she attacqu’d, if she left her sting behind her, it should cost her her life.

Moral

Spiteful prayers are no better than curses in a disguise, and the granting of them turns commonly to the mischief of the petitioner.

1001Apes et Iuppiter

Quod suos labores ab hominibus compilari apicula aegre ferret, elegantissime constructos favos Iovi obtulit et ab illo petiit letiferam ut aculeo suo vim adderet. Iuppiter, immanitate bestiolae offensus, “Immo potius vitalem vim tribuam,” inquit, “ut una cum illo tibi vita relinquenda sit.”

Perry #163