Aesop's Fables
Pride Goes Before Destruction

Aesop's Moral:
Pride goes before destruction.

Other ways of saying it:
Pride cometh before the fall.
(less formally) Pride comes before a fall.

Aesop's Fable:

The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle

(You may choose to call the Cocks "Roosters" instead.)

Two game Cocks were fighting fiercely to be king of the farmyard. One finally gained advantage and the other surrendered.

The losing Cock slunk away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the winner, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed of his victory as loud as he could.

An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon the winning Cock and carried him off in his talons. The losing Cock immediately came out of his corner, and he ruled the farmyard from that day forward.

The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle summary: A very clear warning against boasting (though I haven't heard of many children being carried off by eagles).

People remember different versions of this moral, including the more familiar, "Pride cometh before a fall." The confusion is probably due to differing translations, as well as the fact that many common translations of the bible's Proverbs 16:18 read similarly.

The "destruction" in the most common translation refers to personal destruction: an individual's fall from great stature. Since Aesop's time we've come to think of destruction as something that befalls something larger and usually inanimate.

To me, the easiest, clearest way to express the fable's moral is to say, "Excessive pride leads to inevitable comeuppance."

But that's just me!

Pride goes before destruction.

How to use Aesop's Fables.

More stories with morals.

Storytelling to improve behavior.

'Pride Goes Before Destruction,' image from Aesop's Fables: A New Revised Version From Original Sources, Illustrators: Harrison Weir, John Tenniel and Ernest Griest. (Color added.)

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