Re-Purposing Aesop for Mental Illness/Mental Health Recovery

Statue of Aesop (theorized, not proven) from the Hellenistic period.

Aesop was an ancient Greek fabulist, or story-teller. He lived roughly 2,500 years ago (born c. 600 BC); his collected works are know as Aesop’s Fables. These stories are pedagogical tools designed, like the parables of Jesus and the excerpt from CBTN‘s namesake Hellenic poet Horace, to teach deep and fundamental Truths. Contrary to common understandings and definitions, neither fables nor parables are designed for children, but instead evidence an understanding of the nature and method of learning. Aesop’s Fables are as relevant to adults as they are to children (if not more so).

Here in this ongoing serial CBTN host and CPS John Ward will periodically share one of Aesop’s fables with a mental illness/mental health spin.

For a complete list of Aesop’s Fables and full versions plus interpretations, click here.


The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” [Matthew 13:10] This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. [Matthew 13:13]


fa·ble

ˈfābəl/
noun

a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.
synonyms: parable, allegory


 

THE CROW AND THE PITCHER

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it.

He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.

At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.


Moral:

  1. Small steps.
  2. Your actions are pebbles to the life-sustaining Truth here represented by water; in this fable there are four fundamental axioms: 1A) You are the crow and 1B) You are half-dead with thirst, and 2a) There is something that can save you (water) that can only be 2B) reached by dropping things into it.
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