“The Story of the Devotee Who Spilt the Jar of Honey and Oil” is from Persia. I found it on  D. L. Ashliman’s Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts.  It was first translated by Edward B. Eastwick in The Anvár-i Suhailí; or, The Lights of Canopus, Being the Persion Version of The Fables of Pilpay, 1854.

A pious man had a house near a merchant, and lived happily thanks to his neighbor’s kindness. The merchant sold honey and oil, and made a good living. Since the pious man lived a blameless life, and “ever sowed in the field of his guileless heart the seed of the love of God,” the merchant took care of all his needs.

The merchant every day sent some honey and oil to the pious man too. He used some of this and stored up the rest in a corner. In a short time a jar was filled.

One day the pious man looked into that jar, and thought thus to himself, “Well, now! I wonder how much honey and oil I have?”

At last he conjectured ten mans to be there, and thought:

If I can sell these for ten dirhams, I can buy for that sum five ewes, and these five will each have young every six months, and each will have two lambs. Thus in a year there will be twenty-five, and in ten years from their progeny there will be herds upon herds. So by these means I shall have an abundant supply, and will sell some, and lay in a handsome stock of furniture, and wed a wife of a noble family.

After nine months, I shall have a son born to me, who will study science and polite manners. However, when the weakness of infancy is exchanged for the strength of youth, and that graceful cypress grows up in the garden of manhood, it is probable that he may transgress my orders, and begin to be refractory, and in that case it will be necessary for me to correct him, and I will do so with this very staff which I hold in my hand.

He then lifted up his staff, and was so immersed in thought, that, fancying the head and neck of his rebellious son before him, he brought down the staff, and struck it on the jar of honey and oil. It happened that the jar was on a shelf, beneath which he sat. As soon as his staff reached the jar, it broke it, and let out the honey and oil all over the head and face and vest and hair of the pious man.

I guess the moral here is not to let your daydreams get away from you. Or be careful where you swing your stick.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.


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