A man owned a goose that laid golden eggs and decided to kill it to obtain the source of gold. There wasn’t one. Too bad.
Greed often overreaches itself.
One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.
Aesop For Children (The Goose and The Golden Egg)
There was once a Countryman who possessed the most wonderful Goose you can imagine, for every day when he visited the nest, the Goose had laid a beautiful, glittering, golden egg.
The Countryman took the eggs to market and soon began to get rich. But it was not long before he grew impatient with the Goose because she gave him only a single golden egg a day. He was not getting rich fast enough.
Then one day, after he had finished counting his money, the idea came to him that he could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the Goose and cutting it open. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg did he find, and his precious Goose was dead.
Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have.
V.S. Vernon Jones Version
A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.
Much wants more and loses all.
Samuel Croxall (The Man and his Goose)
A CERTAIN man had a goose, which laid him a golden egg every day. But, not contented with this, which rather increased than abated his avarice, he was resolved to kill the goose, and cut up her belly, that so he might come to the inexhaustible treasure, which he fancied she had within her. He did so; and, to his great sorrow and disappointment, found nothing.
They who are of such craving impatient tempers, that they cannot live contented when fortune had blessed them with a constant and continued sufficiency, deserve even to be deprived of what they have. And this has been the case of many ambitious and covetous men, who, by making an essay to grow rich at once, have missed what they aimed at, and lost what they had before. But this comes so near the sense of the fourth fable, that the same application may very well serve for both. If any thing farther can be couched in this, it may possibly be intended to show us the unreasonableness and inconvenience of being solicitous about what may happen hereafter, and wanting to pry into the womb of futurity, which if we could do, all we should get for our pains would be, to spoil our pleasures by anticipation, and double our misfortunes by a previous sense and apprehension of them. There are some things that entertain and delight us very agreeably while we view them at a proper distance; which, perhaps, would not stand the test of a too near inspection. Beauty, being only the external form of a thing which strikes the eye in a pleasing manner, is a very thin glossy being, and like some nice painting of a peculiar composition, will not well bear even to be breathed on: tc preserve our good opinion of it, we must not approach too close; for if, like the man in the fable, we have a mind to search for a treasure within, we may not only fail of our expectations there, but even lose the constant relish we enjoyed from a remoter contemplation.
Thomas Bewick (The Man and His Goose)
A certain Man had a Goose, which laid him a golden egg every day. But not contented with this, which rather increased than abated his avarice, he was resolved to kill the Goose, and cut up her belly, that by so doing he might come at the inexhaustible treasure which he fancied she had within her. He did so, and to his great sorrow and disappointment, found nothing.
No passion can be a greater torment to those who are led by it, or more frequently mistakes its aim, than insatiable covetousness. It makes men blind to their present happiness, and conjures up ideal prospects of increasing felicity, which often tempt its deluded votaries to their rum. Men who give themselves up to this propensity, know not how to be contented with the constant and continued sufficiency with which Providence may have blessed them: their minds are haunted with the prospect of becoming rich, and their impatient craving tempers are perpetually prompting them to try to obtain their object all at once. They lose all present enjoyment in remotely contemplating the future; and while they are shewing by their conduct how insensible they are to the bounty of Providence, they are at the same time laying the foundation of their own unhappiness.
JBR Collection (A Man and His Goose)
A certain Man had a Goose that laid him a golden egg every day. Being of a covetous turn, he thought if he killed his Goose he should come at once at the source of his treasure. So he killed her, and cut her open, and great was his dismay to find that her inside was in no way different to that of any other Goose.
Townsend version (Hen instead of a Goose)
A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day. They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed it. Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens. The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day.
Crane Poetry Visual
A Golden egg, one every day,
That simpleton’s Goose used to lay.
So he killed the poor thing,
Swifter fortune to bring,
And dined off his fortune that day.
Greed overeaches [sic] itself.
Gherardo Image from 1480
Anser et Ova Aurea
Anus quaedam anserem alebat, quae illi quotidie ovum aureum excludebat. Anus avarissima, existimans anserem habuisse in visceribus fodinam auream, cupiditate commota, anserem confestim interfecit et, cum viscera perscrutabatur et unicum tantum ovum deprehenderat, spe sublactata inani, exclamabat, “O me infelicem, tantae crudelitatis consciam, quae, non modico contenta lucro, iam omnia perdiderim.”