The Boy Who Cried Wolf

A bored Boy tending Sheep cried “Wolf!” to get attention. He did it again and people came. A third time and the Boy was ignored. Goodbye flock.

A liar will not be believed, even when telling the truth.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

There was a Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was lonely for him, so he devised a plan to get a little company. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him. This pleased the boy so much that a few days after he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. Shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest. The boy cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again lying, and nobody came to his aid. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Shepherd Boy and The Wolf)

Boy Cried Wolf

Milo Winter (1919)

A Shepherd Boy tended his master’s Sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. Soon he found life in the pasture very dull. All he could do to amuse himself was to talk to his dog or play on his shepherd’s pipe.

One day as he sat watching the Sheep and the quiet forest, and thinking what he would do should he see a Wolf, he thought of a plan to amuse himself.

His Master had told him to call for help should a Wolf attack the flock, and the Villagers would drive it away. So now, though he had not seen anything that even looked like a Wolf, he ran toward the village shouting at the top of his voice, “Wolf! Wolf!”

As he expected, the Villagers who heard the cry dropped their work and ran in great excitement to the pasture. But when they got there they found the Boy doubled up with laughter at the trick he had played on them.

A few days later the Shepherd Boy again shouted, “Wolf! Wolf!” Again the Villagers ran to help him, only to be laughed at again.

Then one evening as the sun was setting behind the forest and the shadows were creeping out over the pasture, a Wolf really did spring from the underbrush and fall upon the Sheep.

In terror the Boy ran toward the village shouting “Wolf! Wolf!” But though the Villagers heard the cry, they did not run to help him as they had before. “He cannot fool us again,” they said.

The Wolf killed a great many of the Boy’s sheep and then slipped away into the forest.


Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth.

Townsend VersionTownsend version (The Shepherd’s Boy and The Wolf)

A shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, “Wolf! Wolf!” and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: “Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep”; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.


There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall (The Shepherd’s Boy)

Croxall - Shepherd's BoyA CERTAIN Shepherd’s boy kept his sheep upon a common, and, in sport and wantonness, would often cry out, The Wolf! the Wolf! By this means he several times drew the Husbandmen in an adjoining field from their work; who, finding themselves deluded, resolved for the future to take no notice of his alarm. Soon after, the Wolf came indeed. The boy cried out in earnest. But no heed being given to his cries, the Sheep are devoured by the Wolf.


Whittingham - Shepherds and Boy

C. Whittingham (1814)

He that is detected of being a notorious liar, beside the ignominy and reproach of the thing, incurs this mischief, that he will scarce be able to get any one to believe him again, as long as he lives. However true our complaint may be, or how much soever it may be for our interest to have it believed, yet, if we have been frequently caught tripping before, we should hardly be able to gain credit to what we relate afterwards. Though mankind are generally stupid enough to he often imposed upon, yet few are so senseless as to believe a notorious liar, or to trust a cheat upon record. These little shams, when found out, are sufficiently prejudicial to the interest of every private person who practises them. But, when we are alarmed with imaginary dangers in respect of the public, till the cry grows quite stale and threadbare, how can it be expected we should know when to guard ourselves against, real ones?


JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Shepherd Boy and The Wolf)

A mischievous Lad, who was set to mind some Sheep, used, in jest, to cry “The Wolf! the Wolf!” When the people at work in the neighbouring fields came running to the spot, he would laugh at them for their pains. One day the Wolf came in reality, and the Boy, this time, called “The Wolf! the Wolf!” in earnest; but the men, having been so often deceived, disregarded his cries, and the Sheep were left at the mercy of the Wolf.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (A Boy and False Alarums)

A shepherd boy had gotten a roguy trick of crying (a wolfe, a wolfe) when there was no such matter, and fooling the country people with false alarums. He had been at this sport so many times in jest, that they would not believe him at last when he was in earnest: and so the wolves brake in upon the flock, and worry’d the sheep at pleasure.


He must be a very wise man that knows the true bounds and measures of fooling, with a respect to time, place, matters, persons, Etc. But religion, bus’ness and cares of consequence must be excepted out of that sort of liberty.

1001Lupus et Puer Mendax

Puer mendax, qui patris gregem pascebat, libenter alios ludificabatur. Aliquando ingentem clamorem sustulit, “Auxilio venite; lupus adest!” Accurrunt propere rustici et ridentur. Proximo mense, hunc dolum repetivit. Paulo post, re vera lupus apparet. Iam rursus clamat, “Auxilio venite; lupus adest!” At nemo accurrit. Maiore voce clamat, lacrimat, eiulat; frustra omnia. “Tertium nos decipere vult,” inquiunt rustici. Ita lupus in gregem irrupit et plurimas oves dilaniavit.

Perry #210