The Eagle and the Beetle book cover

The Eagle and the Beetle

"The Eagle and the Beetle" by Jean de La Fontaine is a classic fable that imparts valuable lessons about retaliation and power dynamics. In this story, a humble beetle seeks revenge on the mighty eagle who destroys its home. The fable beautifully illustrates the concept that no one is too small to seek justice, and that power can often be found in unexpected places.


Genre: Fable
Year:
1668
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John Rabbit, by an Eagle followed, fled, And in his terror hid his head In a poor Beetle's hole, that happened to be there. You well may guess that this poor lair Was insecure; but where to hide? alack! He crouched--the Eagle pounced upon his back. The friendly Beetle intercedes, And, all in tears, he kindly pleads: "Queen of the Birds! no doubt, in spite of me, You can this trembling creature bear away; But spare me this affront, this grief, I pray. John Rabbit begs his little life of thee; Grant it for pity's sake, sweet ma'am, now do!" The bird of Jove disdained to make reply, But struck the Beetle with her wing--one--two-- Then bore John Rabbit to the upper sky. Indignant Beetle, of revenge in quest, Flew straight to the proud Eagle's nest; Broke in her absence all her eggs--the lot-- Her sweetest hopes--the eggs she held so dear. Angry people have no fear. The Eagle, coming to the well-loved spot, And seeing all the hideous fricassee, Filled heaven with shrieks; but could not find On whom to vent her wrath--you see, Her fury made her blind. She mourned in vain; that year it was her fate Childless to be, and desolate. The next she built a loftier nest--in vain, The Beetle addled all the eggs again. John Rabbit's death was well avenged indeed! For six long months the Eagle's moanings flew, And woke the echoing forest through. The bird that bore off Ganymede, Furious and loud remonstrance made, And flew to Jupiter for aid. Her eggs she placed upon the Thunderer's lap-- There could come no mishap; Jove must defend them: who would dare To touch the objects of his care? The enemy now changed his note; he soared, And let some earth fall where they're stored; The god, his vestment shaking carelessly, Let the eggs fall into infinity. The Eagle, mad with rage at the event (Merely an accident), Swore she would leave the wicked court, And make the desert her resort; With such vagaries.-- (In rage all fair is.) Poor Jupiter in silence heard; The Beetle came, and charged the bird-- In the tribunal of the upper air Related the affair. The god pronounced the Eagle in the wrong, But still the mutual hate was strong. To make a truce, Jove then arranged The time for Eagles' hatching should be changed To winter, when the marmots sleep, And Beetles from the daylight keep.
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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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