Aesop's Fables
An Ounce of Prevention
is Worth a Pound of Cure

'An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure,' from Aesop's Fables, A New Translation by V.S. Vernon Jones, images collaged and colored

Aesop's Moral:
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Another way of saying it:
Endure a little discomfort if you want to avoid major discomfort.

Still another way of saying it:
No act of kindness is ever wasted. (Which just happens to be the moral of another of Aesop's less gruesome fables.)

Aesop's Fable:

The Ass and the Mule

(You might prefer to call this The Donkey and the Mule.)

A Mule-Driver set forth on a journey, driving before him an Ass (a Donkey?) and a Mule, both loaded down with gear.

The Ass, as long as he traveled along flat ground, carried his load with ease, but when he began to ascend the steep path of the mountain, he felt his load to be more than he could bear.

He begged the Mule to relieve him of some of his load, promising that on the way down he would carry extra, but the Mule ignored his request.

Soon, the poor Ass simply dropped dead under the load. Having no other choice, the Mule-Driver added the Ass's load onto the Mule, and atop it all placed the heavy hide of the Ass, after he had skinned him.

The Mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself: "I deserve this. If I had only been willing to help the Ass a little when he needed it, I wouldn't now be carrying not only the Ass's load, but the Ass himself!"

The Ass and the Mule summary: If we ever needed reminding that Aesop lived in more brutal times, this is it. When talking of the Ass's "hide," you might mention that this fable comes from a time when nothing was wasted.

For those who were expecting a fable about bad tasting medicine: surprise! This "ounce of prevention" tale comes from pre-medical times.

It should be noted that if the mule had been nicer, he would have fared better. This happens to be the moral or Aesop's The Lion and the Mouse. In that fable, the Lion performs the act of kindness for the smaller being, instead of denying it.

(Just as the dove does in The Ant and the Dove. Moral: One Good Turn Deserves Another.)

Both fables are good for incentivizing children too young to understand that being nice (or good) is its own reward.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How to use Aesop's Fables.

More stories with morals.

Storytelling to improve behavior.

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