Sunday, 14 November 2010

Feline Fables.

Feline Fables  

     Fables were commonly used in the middle Ages, to teach people with little access to education the rudiments of right and wrong. The storyteller used quirky tales that featured talking animals to hold the attention of his audience.
Credited to a 13th century English preacher, Odo of Cheriton, warns to: 
Expect nothing if a promise is obtained unfairly –
‘A cat came across a mouse that had fallen into a jug of beer. Unable to scramble up the smooth sides of the vessel, the mouse was in danger of drowning. After some bargaining the cat agreed to rescue the mouse from certain death. He set the condition that the mouse must come back to the him, when called. This  promise extracted,  the cat scooped up the mouse with a paw and set  her back on solid ground. The mouse scampered away to the safety of her nest.
  A while later the same cat called in this debt of honour. Fearing she would be eaten the mouse refused to join him. Her reason being:
‘A promise is worthless if gained under pressure - AND I was drunk at the time!’’

The story of ‘Belling the cat’ originates from Europe and warns:
‘It’s easier to have a good idea than to put it into action. 
‘Belling the Cat,’ goes like this –
A family of mice shared a rambling, old house with a cat. Sadly for the mice, the cat was a gifted hunter and frequently caught one of their numbers for his supper. Their colony dwindling in size, the mice decided to call a council of war and  work out how best to deal with their problem. After much argument, a young mouse stood up and announced he had the perfect solution. He suggested attaching a noisy bell to the cat, so that they would hear him approach and get time to run away.  All murmured approval except for one wise old mouse, who asked -
 ‘ But who is willing to attach the bell to the cat?’

      The various animals were carefully selected for their human characteristics, for example; a bull for strength, horse for pride, lion for boldness and a cat for cunning. Cats were a commonly accepted short hand to show cleverness or mischief, as shown by Caxton writing in 1484;

‘The devil plays with a sinner, like a cat does with a mouse.’

And finally: ‘ The Cat and the Cockerel.’
A cat caught a cockerel and pondered on a reasonable excuse for eating him.  He
accused the cockerel of being a nuisance, crowing every morning and disturbing
the farmer’s wife sleep. The cock defended himself well and replied that if it wasn’t for his crowing, the farmer wouldn’t be up in time each day, to complete his work. After a short hesitation the cat responded,
‘Although a good explanation, if I was to accept it, I would remain hungry.’
 Without further ado, the cat ate the cockerel.
The message? Justification is nice but not essential!

A clear conscience leads to a restful night's sleep!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading these fables about cats. That 1st story about promises gained under pressure is classic. It applies to so many situations whether cat or human-related!


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