Aesop was a serf and story-teller who lived in ancient Hellas between 620 and 560 BC--if he actually existed. No records of him were every recovered and through the years, many fables scattered throughout ancient Hellas became attributed to him. His collected works became known as 'Aesop's Fables', and there are quite a lot of them: nearly enough to read your children one of them for every night for two years. I am very short on time and energy today so you're getting two of his little fables, both about the lion and the mouse--but as you will see the moral of each story is very different.

"Some field-mice were playing in the woods where a lion was sleeping when one of the mice accidentally ran over the lion. The lion woke up and immediately grabbed the wretched little mouse with his paw. The mouse begged for mercy, since he had not meant to do the lion any harm. The lion decided that to kill such a tiny creature would be a cause for reproach rather than glory, so he forgave the mouse and let him go. A few days later, the lion fell into a pit and was trapped. He started to roar, and when the mouse heard him, he came running. Recognizing the lion in the trap, the mouse said to him, 'I have not forgotten the kindness that you showed me!' The mouse then began to gnaw at the cords binding the lion, cutting through the strands and undoing the clever ingenuity of the hunter's art. The mouse was thus able to restore the lion to the woods, setting him free from his captivity."

Moral: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

"While a lion was sleeping, a mouse ran over his shaggy mane. This angered the lion and he leaped up from his den, all the hairs of his mane standing on end. A fox made fun of the fact that a lion, king of all the animals, had been startled by a mouse. The lion answered the fox, 'You insolent creature! I was not afraid of the mouse scratching me and running away; I was just worried that he might make a mess on my mane.'"

Moral: Small liberties can be large offenses.