The Fox and The Leopard

A leopard was bragging about the beauty of his spots when a fox came up saying how much more beautiful his mind was. Neither liar really won.

Liars and boasters will undo themselves.

[These versions are not exactly the same fable, but are similar enough to be included on the same page.]

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Fox and Leopard

Milo Winter (1919)

A Fox and a Leopard, resting lazily after a generous dinner, amused themselves by disputing about their good looks. The Leopard was very proud of his glossy, spotted coat and made disdainful remarks about the Fox, whose appearance he declared was quite ordinary.

The Fox prided himself on his fine bushy tail with its tip of white, but he was wise enough to see that he could not rival the Leopard in looks. Still he kept up a flow of sarcastic talk, just to exercise his wits and to have the fun of disputing. The Leopard was about to lose his temper when the Fox got up, yawning lazily.

“You may have a very smart coat,” he said, “but you would be a great deal better off if you had a little more smartness inside your head and less on your ribs, the way I am. That’s what I call real beauty.”


A fine coat is not always an indication of an attractive mind.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

The fox and the Leopard disputed which was the more beautiful of the two. The Leopard exhibited one by one the various spots which decorated his skin. But the Fox, interrupting him, said, “And how much more beautiful than you am I, who am decorated, not in body, but in mind.”

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

The Leopard and The Fox

Ernest Griset (1874)

The Leopard one day, in the hearing of the Fox, was very loud in the praise of his own beautifully spotted skin. The Fox thereupon told him that, handsome as he might be, he considered that he himself was yet a great deal handsomer. “Your beauty is of the body,” said the Fox; “mine is of the mind.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Leopard and FoxTHE Leopard, one day, took it into his head to value himself upon the great variety and beauty of his spots, and truly he saw no reason why even the Lion should take place of him, since he could not show so beautiful a skin. As for the rest of the wild beasts of the forest, he treated them all, without distinction, in the most haughty, disdainful manner. But the Fox, being among them, went up to him with a great deal of spirit and resolution, and told him, that he was mistaken in the value he was pleased to set upon himself; since people of judgment were not used to form their opinion of merit from an outside appearance, but by considering the good qualities and endowments with which the mind was stored within.


Whittingham - Leopard and Fox

C. Whittingham (1814)

How much more heavenly and powerful would beauty prove, if it were not so frequently impaired by the affectation and conceitedness of its possessor? If some women were but as modest and unassuming as they are handsome, they might command the hearts of all that behold them. But nature seemed to foresee, and has provided against such an inconvenience, by tempering its greatest master-pieces with a due proportion of pride and vanity: so that their power, depending upon the duration of their beauty only, is like to be but of a short continuance; which, when they happen to prove tyrants, is no small comfort to us; and then, even while it lasts, will abate much of its severity by the allay of those two prevailing ingredients. Wise men are chiefly captivated with the charms of the mind; and whenever they are infatuated with a passion for any thing else, it is generally observed that they cease, during that time at least, to be what they were; and are indeed looked upon to be only playing the fool. If the fair ones we have been speaking of have a true ascendant over them, they will oblige them to divest themselves of common sense, and to talk and act ridiculously, before they can think them worthy of the least regard. Should one of these fine creatures be addressed in the words of Juba,

‘Tis not a set of features nor complexion,
The tincture of a skin that I admire,
Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex.
True, she is fair, oh, how divinely fair!
But still the lovely maid improves her charms
With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom,
And sanctity of manners.——–

The man that should venture the success of a strong passion, upon the construction she would put upon such a compliment, might have reason to repent of his conduct.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (A Fox and A Crocodile)

There happen’d a contest betwixt a fox and a crocodile, upon the point of bloud and extraction. The crocodile amplify’d wonderfully upon his family, for the credit of his ancestors. Friend (says the fox, smiling upon’t) there will need no herald to prove your gentility; for you carry the marks of your original in your very skin.


Great boasters and lyars have the fortune still some way or other to disprove themselves.

1001Vulpes et Pardus

Vulpes et pardus de pulchritudine concertabant et, pardo suam pellem versicolorem extollente, vulpes, cum suam praeponere non possit, dicebat pardo, “At quanto ego sum speciosior et quam longe formosior, quae non corpus, sed animum versicolorem et variis notis insignem sortita sum!”

Perry #012