Aesop's Fables
Might Makes Right

Aesop's Moral:
Might Makes Right

Other ways of saying it:
He who holds the power can change the terms.
Beware the person who holds all the cards.

Aesop's Fable:

The Wild Ass and the Lion

A wild Ass and a Lion made an agreement to hunt cooperatively. The Lion would contribute his greater strength to the alliance, while the wild Ass would contribute his greater speed.

Once they'd caught enough animals to live off for some time, the Lion took it upon himself to distribute shares of the meat. Oddly, he divided it into three.

"I will take the first share," he said, "because I am King. And I will take the second share because I was your partner in the hunt."

"I assume I get the third share," said the wild Ass.

"I doubt you shall want it," said the Lion, "for it is likely to cause you great harm."

Might this be where the saying, "The lion's share," comes from?

"How could a pile of meat cause me harm?" asked the wild Ass.

"Attempt to keep it, instead of running off as fast as you can," said the Lion, "and you will be sure to find out!"

The Wild Ass and the Lion summary: Surely, in this day and age, we don't want to teach our children to be bullies, so we don't tell this Aesop's Fable to endorse the Lion's behavior.

The fable can also be taken as an endorsement of what some will take as cowardice: don't insist on fair treatment if you can't back up your demand.

So use this fable more subtly: to warn that unfair things can happen when disproportionate power or strength comes into play in a cooperative relationship.

The same kind of wisdom supports the Separation of Powers doctrine in the U.S. constitution. The fable and its moral advise us to be skeptical in our trust and to seek cooperation with equals.

Might makes right.

How to use Aesop's Fables.

More stories with morals.

Storytelling to improve behavior.

'Might makes right,' from The Æsop for Children, pictures by Milo Winter

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