The Sick Kite

A sick kite begged his mother to visit altars and pray for his recovery. The mother said no as they had robbed all the altars she might pray at.

We must make friends in prosperity if we would have their help in adversity.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A kite, sick unto death, said to his mother: “O Mother! do not mourn, but at once invoke the gods that my life may be prolonged.” She replied, “Alas! my son, which of the gods do you think will pity you? Is there one whom you have not outraged by filching from their very altars a part of the sacrifice offered up to them?’


We must make friends in prosperity if we would have their help in adversity.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - The Sick KiteA KITE had been sick a long time; and finding there were no hopes of recovery, hedged of his mother to go to all the churches and religious houses in the country, to try what prayers and promises would effect in his behalf. The old Kite replied, Indeed dear son, I would willingly undertake any thing to save your life, but I have great reason to despair of doing you any service in the way you propose: for, with what face can I ask any thing of the Gods in favour of one, whose whole life has been a continual scene of rapine and injustice, and who has not scrupled, upon occasion, to rob the very altars themselves?


Whittingham - Sick Kite

C. Whittingham (1814)

The rehearsal of this fable almost unavoidably draws our attention to that very serious and important point, the consideration of a death-bed repentance. And, to expose the absurdity of relying upon such a weak foundation, we need only ask the same question with the Kite in the fable: how can he that has offended the Gods all his life-time, by doing acts of dishonour and injustice, expect that they should be pleased with him at last, for no other reason but because he fears he shall not be able to offend them any longer; when, in truth, such a repentance can signify nothing but a confirmation of his former impudence and folly: for sure no stupidity can exceed that of the man who expects future judgment, and yet can bear to commit any piece of injustice, with a sense and deliberation of the fact.”


JBR CollectionJBR Collection

A Kite who had been ill for a long time, begged of his mother to go to all the temples in the country, and see what prayers and promises could do for his recovery. The old Kite replied, “My son, unless you can think of an altar that neither of us has robbed, I fear that nothing can be done for you in that way. ”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (A Sick Kite and Her Mother)

Pray mother (says a sick kite) give over these idle lamentations, and let me rather have your prayers. Alas! my child, (says the dam) which of the gods shall I go to, for a wretch that has robb’d all their altars?


Nothing but the conscience of a virtuous life can make death easie to us, wherefore there’s no trusting to the distraction of an agonizing, and a death-bed repentance.

1001Milvus Aegrotans

Aegrotavit aliquando milvus periculose, remedia nil effecerant; accersiti frustra medici monent disponat rebus suis. Is tandem moriturus matrem vocat, rogat, quando in medicis humanis spes nulla salutis esset, eat precatum Deos pro sua valetudine. Respondet illa incunctanter, “Nil tibi, fili, ex illa parte sperandum puta; nec quicquam tuo nomine, aut causa, Diis supplicandum, quorum sacra et aras tuis toties rapinis violasti.”

Perry #324