The Frog and the Ox

The Frog And The Ox

The Frog and the Ox

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The Frog and the Ox appears among Aesop's Fables. The story concerns a frog that tries to inflate itself to the size of an ox, but bursts in the attempt. In some Classical sources the fable concludes with the moral: 'Not all creatures can become as great as they think.' There are various versions of the story. In some, the frog sees the ox and tries to equal him in size; in others it is only told of an enormous beast by another and keeps swelling, asking at intervals, 'Was it as big as this?' The story has usually been applied to socio-economic relations.

Versions of the fable

Both Martial and Horace are among the Latin satiric writers who made use of the fable of the frog and the ox, although they refer to different versions of it. The story related by Phaedrus has a frog motivated by envy of the ox, illustrating the moral that 'the needy man, while affecting to imitate the powerful, comes to ruin'. Horace places a different version of the story towards the end of a long conversation on the demented behaviour of mankind (Satires II.3, lines 314ff) where Damasippus accuses the poet of trying to keep up with his rich patron Maecenas. His telling follows the Babrius version in...
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