Battle Between the Rats and Weasels book cover

Battle Between the Rats and Weasels

In Battle Between the Rats and Weasels, Jean de La Fontaine draws an analogy between human wars and a grand conflict between animals. The unconditional warfare between rats and weasels begins when a rat accidentally offends the weasel king. This fable examines the causes and effects of war, serving as a political commentary about social hierarchies, power dynamics, and the often futile nature of conflict. It also explores the theme of diplomacy versus violence and encourages readers to question the virtues and disadvantages of both.

Genre: Fable

The Weasel nation, like the Cats, Are always fighting with the Rats; And did the Rats not squeeze their way Through doors so narrow, I must say, The long-backed creatures would slip in, And swallow all their kith and kin. One certain year it did betide, When Rats were greatly multiplied, Their king, illustrious Ratapon, His army to the field led on. The Weasels, too, were soon arrayed, And the old flag again displayed. If Fame reported just and true, Victory paused between the two; Till fallows were enriched and red With blood the rival armies shed; But soon in every place Misfortune met the Rattish race. The rout was so complete, the foe More dreadful grew at every blow; And what avails brave Artapax, Meridarpax, Psicarpax? Who, covered both with dust and gore, Drove back the Weasels thrice and more, Till driven slowly from the plain, E'en their great courage proved in vain! 'Twas Fate that ruled that dreadful hour: Then each one ran who had the power; Soldier and captain, jostling fled, But all the princes were struck dead; The private, nimble in his feet, Unto his hole made snug retreat. The noble, with his lofty plume, Found that he had by no means room. To strike with terror--yes, or whether A mark of honour--rose the feather, That led to much calamity, As very soon the nobles see; Neither in cranny, hole, or crack, Was space found for the plumed pack. In the meantime, the populace Found access to each lurking-place, So that the largest heap of slain From the Rat noblemen is ta'en. A nodding feather in the cap Is oftentimes a great mishap; A big and over-gilded coach Will sometimes stop up an approach; The smaller people, in most cases, Escape by unregarded places: Men soon are on great people's traces.
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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