The Mice and The Weasels

Mice and Weasels were fighting. The Mice picked their bravest to lead and made them generals. Mice fled when Weasels came but generals could not. Too bad.

The more honor the more danger.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Mice and Weasels

Milo Winter (1919)

The Weasels and the Mice were always up in arms against each other. In every battle the Weasels carried off the victory, as well as a large number of the Mice, which they ate for dinner next day. In despair the Mice called a council, and there it was decided that the Mouse army was always beaten because it had no leaders. So a large number of generals and commanders were appointed from among the most eminent Mice.

To distinguish themselves from the soldiers in the ranks, the new leaders proudly bound on their heads lofty crests and ornaments of feathers or straw. Then after long preparation of the Mouse army in all the arts of war, they sent a challenge to the Weasels.

The Weasels accepted the challenge with eagerness, for they were always ready for a fight when a meal was in sight. They immediately attacked the Mouse army in large numbers. Soon the Mouse line gave way before the attack and the whole army fled for cover. The privates easily slipped into their holes, but the Mouse leaders could not squeeze through the narrow openings because of their head-dresses. Not one escaped the teeth of the hungry Weasels.


Greatness has its penalties.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

The weasels and the Mice waged a perpetual war with each other, in which much blood was shed. The Weasels were always the victors. The Mice thought that the cause of their frequent defeats was that they had no leaders set apart from the general army to command them, and that they were exposed to dangers from lack of discipline. They therefore chose as leaders Mice that were most renowned for their family descent, strength, and counsel, as well as those most noted for their courage in the fight, so that they might be better marshaled in battle array and formed into troops, regiments, and battalions. When all this was done, and the army disciplined, and the herald Mouse had duly proclaimed war by challenging the Weasels, the newly chosen generals bound their heads with straws, that they might be more conspicuous to all their troops. Scarcely had the battle begun, when a great rout overwhelmed the Mice, who scampered off as fast as they could to their holes. The generals, not being able to get in on account of the ornaments on their heads, were all captured and eaten by the Weasels.


The more honor the more danger.

[Note: The following uses Cats instead of Weasels in the same fable.]

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (The Cats and The Mice)

In former times a fierce and lasting war raged between the Cats and Mice, in which, time after time, the latter had to fly. One day when the Mice in council were discussing the cause of their ill-luck, the general opinion seemed to be that it was the difficulty of knowing, in the heat of the conflict, who were their leaders, that led to their discomfiture and utter rout. It was decided that in future each chief of a division should have his head decorated with some thin straws, so that all the Mice would then know to whom they were to look for orders. So after the Mice had drilled and disciplined their numbers, they once more gave battle to the Cats. The poor fellows again met with no better success. The greater part reached their holes in safety, but the chieftains were prevented by their strange head-gear from entering their retreats, and without exception fell a prey to their ruthless pursuers.

1001Mures et Feles, Proeliantes

Feles quondam et mures commiserant proelium. Mures vero, maxima clade profligati, cum animi et virium defectu se victos esse intellexissent, satrapas et antesignanos elegerunt sibi. Qui, ut inter reliquos insignibus et fortitudine eminerent, capitibus suis addiderant cornua. Iterum deinde feles adortae mures universos in fugam avertunt. Ac reliqui quidem mures, fuga servati, tuto latibula sua intrant. Praetores autem et ipsi fuga ad latebras pervenerant suas sed, cum intrare vellent, sunt impediti cornibus. Quos comprehensos feles dederunt neci.


Qui nimis freti sunt armis suis, per ipsa arma intereunt.

Perry #165