Aesop’s “The Ants and the Grasshopper”

Aesop's "The Ants and the Grasshopper"

by Shellen Lubin

November 20, 2020

Aesop tells us the story of The Ants and the Grasshopper. You probably remember it. The Ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?' He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."

And Aesop’s moral, what he draws from this, is that: it is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.

But what if that’s not the whole story? What if one old ant, the old Auntie Ant, stood up and defended the Grasshopper? What if she got angry with the other ants and scolded them, “Listen to me! You call this poor, hungry Grasshopper foolish, but you ants are foolish as well.  Did you not hear the Grasshopper singing all summer? Did you not pace your steady march to the rhythm of his song? Didn’t his dulcet tones give a spring to your step and a put a hum in your mouth?  Didn’t his buoyant spirit make lighter your heart? Why, then, should you deny the Grasshopper his share of the food you stored? He then may need to journey far, far away, or worse, he may die. And what then? Next summer when you are lifting and carrying grain for next winter, you will have no singing to make your work easier and more joyful. You tell him to dance to bed with no supper, but if you cast him out, you will plod through the rest of your days with no music. So what will it be?” And the ants were humbled, and welcomed in the Grasshopper and shared their food. And after they all ate heartily, the Grasshopper sang them to sleep with a grateful lullaby.

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