Aesop served Tongues as both best and worst meats over two meals. The guests were enchanted by his explanation and insisted the host not punish him.
Cleverness can get out out of trouble.
Xanthus invited a large company to dinner, and Aesop was ordered to furnish the feast with the choicest dainties that money could procure. The first course consisted of Tongues, cooked in different ways, and served with appropriate sauces. This gave rise to a deal of mirth and witty remarks among the assembled guests. The second course, however, like the first, was also nothing but Tongues, and so the third, and the fourth. The matter seemed to all to have gone beyond a jest, and Xanthus angrily demanded of Aesop, “Did I not tell you, sirrah, to provide the choicest dainties that money could procure?” “And what excels the Tongue?” replied Aesop. “It is the great channel of learning and philosophy. By this noble organ addresses and eulogies a remade, and commerce, contracts, and marriages completely established. Nothing is equal to the Tongue. “The company applauded Aesop’s wit, and good-humour was restored. “Well,” said Xanthus to the guests, “pray do me the favour of dining with me again to-morrow. And if this is your best,” continued he, turning to Aesop, “pray, to-morrow let us have some of the worst meat you can find.” T he next day, when dinner-time came, the guests were assembled. Great was their astonishment, and great the anger of Xanthus, at finding that again nothing but Tongues was put upon the table. “How, sir,” said Xanthus, “should Tongues be the best of meat one day and the worst another?” “What,” replied Aesop, “can be worse than the Tongue? What wickedness is there under the sun that it has not a part in? Treasons, violence, injustice, and fraud are debated, resolved upon, and communicated by the Tongue. It is the ruin of empires, cities, and of private friendships.”The company were more than ever struck by Aesop’s ingenuity, and successfully interceded for him with his master.