Aesop for Children, 1919. Illustration by Milo Winter.

“The Monkey and the Camel” by Aesop

I had never heard of this fable before, but with hundreds of fables attributed to Aesop it’s really no surprise.

Here’s the story, from

The beasts of the forest gave a splendid entertainment, at which the Monkey stood up and danced. Having vastly delighted the assembly, he sat down amidst universal applause. The Camel, envious of the praises bestowed on the Monkey and desirous to divert to himself the favor of the guests, proposed to stand up in his turn, and dance for their amusement. He moved about in so very ridiculous a manner, that the Beasts, in a fit of indignation, set upon him with clubs, and drove him out of the assembly.

It is absurd to ape our betters.

We’ve all at some time or other wished we had talents or abilities that we don’t. Poor Camel took it a step further, actually trying to dance like monkey, in front of a large, distinguished audience no less. Obviously it was a performance doomed to failure. Imagine his knobby legs, huge heavy hoofs trying to dance lightly and gracefully like monkey. I do have to tay beating him with clubs or sticks was a little over the line, but we can compare it to the boos and jeers a terrible performer hears.

I think a better moral though is to be yourself. Know your own strengths. Do what you do best.

Or maybe it’s practice before you make a fool of yourself.

Tif, from Tif Talks Books, is the hostess of this great feature, Fairy Tale Fridays. Head over there for her take on “The Monkey and the Camel” and to share your own thoughts. Next week’s focus will be on Cinderella.


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