The Frog and The Ox

 A frog inflates itself bragging he can be as big as an ox or bull. Too big, too bad. Pop.

Conceit may lead to self-destruction.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

“Father,” said a little Frog, “I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two.” “Tush, child,” said the old Frog, “that was only Farmer White’s Ox. It isn’t so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I could easily make myself quite as broad; just you see.” So he blew himself out, and blew himself out, and blew himself out. “Was he as big as that?” asked he. “Oh, much bigger than that,” said the young Frog. Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox was as big as that. “Bigger, father, bigger,” was the reply. So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and swelled and swelled and swelled; and said: “I’m sure the Ox is not as big as that.” At this moment he burst.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall (The Proud Frog)

Croxall - The Proud FrogAN Ox, grazing in a meadow: chanced to set his foot among a parcel of young Frogs, and trod one of them to death. The rest informed their mother when she came home, what had happened; telling her, that the beast which did it was the hugest creature that they ever saw in their lives. What was it so big? says the old Frog, swelling and blowing up her speckled belly to a great degree. Oh! bigger by a vast deal, say they. And so big? says she, straining herself yet more. Indeed, Mamma, say they, if you were to burst yourself, you would never be so big. She strove yet again, and burst herself indeed.


Whittingham - Ox and Frog

C. Whittingham (1814)

Whenever a man endeavours to live equal with one of a greater fortune than himself, he is sure to share a like fate with the Frog in the fable. How many vain people, of moderate easy circumstances, burst and come to nothing, by vying with those whose estates are more ample than their own! Sir Changeling Plumstock was possessed of a very considerable estate, devolved to him by the death of an uncle, who had adopted him his heir. He had a false taste of happiness; and, without the least economy, trusting to the sufficiency of his vast revenue, was resolved to be outdone by nobody in showish grandeur and expensive living. He gave five thousand pounds for a piece of ground in the country, to set a house upon; the building and furniture of which cost fifty thousand more; and his gardens were proportionably magnificent. Beside which, he thought himself under a necessity of buying out two or three tenements which stood in his neighbourhood, that he might have elbow-room enough. All this he could very well bear, and still might have been happy, had it not have been for an unfortunate view which he one day happened to take of my Lord Castlebuilder’s gardens, which consisted of twenty acres, whereas his own were not above twelve. From that time he grew pensive; and before the ensuing winter gave five-and-thirty years purchase for a dozen acres more, to enlarge his gardens, built a couple of exhorbitant green-houses, and a large pavilion at the farther end of a terrace-walk: the bare repairs and superintendances of all which called for the remaining part of his income. He is mortgaged pretty deep, and pays nobody: but being a privileged person, resides altogether at a private cheap lodging in the city of Wesemister.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Frogs and The Ox)

Ox and Frog

Milo Winter (1919)

An Ox came down to a reedy pool to drink. As he splashed heavily into the water, he crushed a young Frog into the mud. The old Frog soon missed the little one and asked his brothers and sisters what had become of him.

“A great big monster,” said one of them, “stepped on little brother with one of his huge feet!”

“Big, was he!” said the old Frog, puffing herself up. “Was he as big as this?”

“Oh, much bigger!” they cried.

The Frog puffed up still more.

“He could not have been bigger than this,” she said. But the little Frogs all declared that the monster was much, much bigger and the old Frog kept puffing herself out more and more until, all at once, she burst.


Do not attempt the impossible.


Ox Frog C1

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

Ox Frog C2

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

An Ox, as he was drinking at the water’s edge, crushed a young Frog underfoot. When the mother Frog came to the spot (for she happened to be away at the time) she asked his brothers where he was. “He is dead, mother,” they said; “a few minutes ago a great big four-legged thing came up and crushed him dead with his hoof.” Thereupon the Frog began to puff herself out and ask whether the animal was as big as that. “Stop, mother, don’t put yourself about,” they said; “you will burst in two long before you can make yourself the same size as that beast.”

Ox Frog C3

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

Ox Frog C4

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

Townsend VersionTownsend version

An ox drinking at a pool trod on a brood of young frogs and crushed one of them to death. The Mother coming up, and missing one of her sons, inquired of his brothers what had become of him. “He is dead, dear Mother; for just now a very huge beast with four great feet came to the pool and crushed him to death with his cloven heel.” The Frog, puffing herself out, inquired, “if the beast was as big as that in size.” “Cease, Mother, to puff yourself out,” said her son, “and do not be angry; for you would, I assure you, sooner burst than successfully imitate the hugeness of that monster.”

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor (The Frogs and The Bull)

Taylor - Frogs and Bull 0131A BULL once treading near a bog,
Displaced the entrails of a frog,
Who near his foot did trust them;
In fact, so great was the contusion,
And made of his inwards such confusion,
No art could re-adjust them.

It chanced that some who saw his fate,
Did to a friend the deed relate,
With croakings, groans, and hisses;
“The beast,” said they, “in size excell’d
All other beasts,”—their neighbour swell’d.
And ask’d, “As large as this is!”

“O! larger far than that,” said they,
“Do not attempt it, madam, pray;”
But still the frog distended,
And said, “I’ll burst, but I’ll exceed,”—
She tried, and burst herself indeed!
And so the matter ended.

Should you with pride innate and swell,
As did the frog: then who can tell!
Your sides may crack as has been shown,
And we with laughing crack our own.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

An Ox grazing in a meadow, chanced to set his foot on a young Frog and crushed him to death. His brothers and sisters, who were playing ncar, at once ran to tell their mother what had happened. “The monster that did it, mother, was such a size!” said they. The mother, who was a vain old thing, thought that she could easily make herself as large. “Was it as big as this?” she asked, blowing and puffing herself out. “Oh, much bigger than that,” replied the young Frogs. “As this then?” cried she, puffing and blowing again with all her might. “Nay, mother,” said they; “if you were to try till you burst yourself, you would never be so big.” The silly old Frog tried to puff herself out still more, and burst herself indeed.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

As a huge over-grown oxe was grazing in a meadow, an old envious frog that stood gaping at him hard by, called out to her little ones, to take notice of the bulk of that monstrous beast; and see, says she, if I don’t make my self now the bigger of the two. So she strain’d once, and twice, and went still swelling on and on, till in the conclusion she forc’d her self, and burst.


Betwizt pride, envy, and ambition, men fancy themselves to be bigger than they are, and other people to be less: and this tumour swells itself at last ’till it makes all fly.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Frog and Bull

Said the Frog, quite puffed up to the eyes,
“Was this Bull about me as to size?”
“Rather bigger, frog-brother.”
“Puff, puff,” said the other,
“A Frog is a Bull if he tries!”

Brag is not always belief.

1001Rana et Bos

Rana, cupida aequandi bovem, se distendebat. Filius hortabatur matrem coepto desistere, dicens nihil enim esse ranam ad bovem. Illa autem, posthabito consilio, secundum intumuit. Clamitat natus, “Crepes licet, mater, bovem numquam vinces.” Tertium autem cum intumuisset, crepuit.

Perry #376