An eagle and a fox long had lived together as good neighbors, the eagle at the top of a high tree and the fox in a hole at the foot of it. One day, however, while the fox was away, the eagle swooped down upon the fox’s cub and carried it away to her nest.
The fox, on her return home, upbraided the eagle for this breach of friendship, and pleaded with the eagle to return the cub to her den. But the eagle, feeling sure her own brood high up in their treetop nest were safe from any possible revenge, ignored the entreaties of the cub’s mother.
Quickly running to the place where she knew an altar fire to be burning, the fox snatched a branch and hurried back to the tree. The mother eagle, who was just on the point of tearing the cub to pieces to feed to her babies, looked down and saw that the fox was going to set fire to the tree and burn it and her eaglets to ashes.
“Hold on, dear neighbor!” she screamed. “Don’t set fire to our tree. I’ll bring back your cub to you safe and sound.”
Moral, or lesson, of the story: Treat others as you want them to treat you.
Aesop may or may not have been an actual person. If real, he would have been born in about 620 B.C.E. He was a fabulist, or storyteller, commonly credited with a number of works known collectively as “Aesop’s Fables.” In some of the stories, animals possess human characteristics, such as the ability to speak. Most of the stories teach a moral lesson. Aesop would have passed on in about 560 B.C.E.