Aesop, The Ant and the Grasshopper, And Me

Being of Greek descent, I am practiced in the art of connecting myself to everything the ancient Greeks did. As such, I would like to discuss Aesop, one of my ancestors, many thousands of generations removed, born 620 BCE- died 564 BCE.

Whether or not Aesop was in fact a real person, has been debated by many a great man, as were the details of his life. Aristotle and Plutarch for example had differing opinions on Aesop’s place of birth, and means of death. It is said that Aesop was a slave who’s gift for story telling was his ticket to freedom. He eventually made his way to Delphi, where he angered the Delphian’s who threw him from a cliff to his death. 

Another popular belief is that many stories credited to Aesop were written decades after his death, adding pith to the conjecture that the historic man may have never existed.   

Real or not, my ancestor Aesop, is accredited with penning countless fables that are still widely shared, and used as moralistic teaching tools for the very young. These stories have many versions, and with each version of each tale, a different moral lesson.  

Fable 373 in the Perry index of Aesop’s Fables is “The Ant and the Grasshopper”, one of my favorites. There are a few adaptations of this story, and I’ll give you a very brief synopsis of the most widely told version. 

A cricket leisurely plays his beautiful music, as an ant tirelessly works storing food. This goes on for some time. Finally winter sets in, at which time the ant is prepared and the cricket is not. The cold and starving cricket begs the ant for food. The ant responds by rebuking the cricket for his idle lifestyle, and tells him he should try dancing for his food. The timeless moral of this story is— “To work today is to eat tomorrow”.

With all due respect to my great uncle Aesop, I believe this idea may be flawed. I’ve been thinking about my lot in life, a bit more than usual of late. At the risk of sounding like a teaser for an exploitive day time television show, I believe that I am a grasshopper trapped in an ants body. Somehow I have become the ant in this story, tirelessly working as those around me enjoy life… live their lives in the moment. Responsibility and parenthood will do this to a person, but my children are about to move onto the next phase of their lives, leaving me to do the same. 

Given a choice for my future of either life as an ant or life as a grasshopper, I choose the life of the grasshopper. I would spend my life endlessly giving chase to artistic pursuits. As 10th century Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam said, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” How many ants never live to see winter? 
The Daily Post, August 8, 2015, Daily Prompt: Bedtime Stories~ What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?<a href=””>Bedtime Stories</a><a href=””>Bedtime Stories</a>

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