The Animals Sick of the Plague book cover

The Animals Sick of the Plague

"The Animals Sick of the Plague" is one of the famous fables by French poet Jean de La Fontaine. The story focuses on animals, specifically a lion, who become affected by a deadly plague. The lion acts as the king and proposes a sacrifice. The animals, scared, start pointing fingers at each other, laying blame and accusations to avoid being sacrificed. Through this tale, La Fontaine explores themes of blame, sacrifice, responsibility, and justice, aimed at revealing human weaknesses and societal issues.


Genre: Fable
Year:
1668
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A Malady that Heaven sent On earth, for our sin's punishment-- The Plague (if I must call it right), Fit to fill Hades in a night-- Upon the animals made war; Not all die, but all stricken are. They scarcely care to seek for food, For they are dying, and their brood. The Wolves and Foxes crouching keep, Nor care to watch for timorous Sheep. Even the very Turtle-doves Forget their little harmless loves. The Lion, calling counsel, spoke-- "Dear friends, upon our luckless crown Heaven misfortune has sent down, For some great sin. Let, then, the worst Of all our race be taken first, And sacrificed to Heaven's ire; So healing Mercury, through the fire, May come and free us from this curse, That's daily growing worse and worse. History tells us, in such cases For patriotism there a place is. No self-deception;--plain and flat Search each his conscience, mind you that. I've eaten several sheep, I own. What harm had they done me?--why, none. Sometimes--to be quite fair and true-- I've eaten up the shepherd too. I will devote myself; but, first, Let's hear if any has done worst. Each must accuse himself, as I Have done; for justice would let die The guiltiest one." The Fox replied-- "You are too good to thus decide. Your Majesty's kind scruples show Too much of delicacy. No What! eating sheep--the paltry--base, Is that a sin? You did the race, In munching them, an honour--yes, I'm free, your highness, to confess. And as for shepherds, they earn all The evils that upon them fall: Being of those who claim a sway (Fantastic claim!) o'er us, they say." Thus spoke the Fox the flatterer's text. The Tiger and the Bear came next, With claims that no one thought perplexed. In fact, more quarrelsome they were, The fewer grew the cavillers there. Even the humblest proved a saint: None made a slanderous complaint. The Ass came in his turn, and said, "For one thing I myself upbraid. Once, in a rank green abbey field, Sharp hunger made me basely yield. The opportunity was there; The grass was rich; the day was fair. Some demon tempted me: I fell, And cleared my bare tongue's length, pell-mell." Scarce had he spoken ere they rose In arms, nor waited for the close. A Wolf, half lawyer, made a speech, And proved this creature wrong'd them each And all, and they must sacrifice This scurvy wretch, who to his eyes Was steep'd in every wickedness. Doom'd to the rope, without redress, "Hang him at once! What! go and eat An Abbot's grass, however sweet! Abominable crime!" they cry; "Death only clears the infamy." If you are powerful, wrong or right, The court will change your black to white.
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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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