The Two Frogs

Fables of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Types 278A, 278A*, and Related Tales
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2020

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  1. Two Neighbour-Frogs (Aesop -- Roger L'Estrange).

  2. The Two Frogs Who Were Neighbours (Aesop -- George Fyler Townsend).

  3. Two Frogs That Wanted Water (Aesop -- Roger L'Estrange).

  4. The Two Frogs (Aesop -- George Fyler Townsend).

  5. How a Tortoise Came to Grief Because He Loved His Home Too Much (The Jataka).

  6. The Three Fishes (The Masnavi).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Two Neighbour-Frogs


There were two neighbour-frogs. One of them liv'd in a pond, and the other in the highway hard-by. The pond-frog, finding the water begin to fail upon the road, would fain have gotten t'other frog over to her in the pool, where she might have been safe; but she was wonted to the place, she said, and would not remove.

And what was the end on't now, but the wheel of a cart drove over her a while after, and crush'd her to pieces.

The Moral:

Some people are so listless and slothful that they'd rather lie still and die in a ditch, then stir one finger to help themselves out on't.


The Two Frogs Who Were Neighbours


Two frogs were neighbours. The one inhabited a deep pond, far removed from public view; the other lived in a gully containing little water, and traversed by a country road.

He that lived in the pond warned his friend, and entreated him to change his residence, and to come and live with him, saying that he would enjoy greater safety from danger and more abundant food.

The other refused, saying that he felt it so very hard to remove from a place to which he had become accustomed.

A few days afterwards a heavy wagon passed through the gully, and crushed him to death under its wheels.

A wilful man will have his way to his own hurt.

Two Frogs That Wanted Water


Upon the drying up of a lake, two frogs were forc'd to quit, and to seek for water elsewhere. As they were upon the search, they discover'd a very deep well.

Come (says one to t'other), let us e'en go down here, without looking any further.

You say well, says her companion, but what if the water should fail us here too? How shall we get out again?

The Moral:

'Tis good advice to look before we leape.

The Two Frogs


Two frogs dwelt in the same pool. The pool being dried up under the summer's heat, they left it, and set out together for another home.

As they went along they chanced to pass a deep well, amply supplied with water, on seeing which one of the frogs said to the other, "Let us descend and make our abode in this well. It will furnish us with shelter and food."

The other replied with greater caution, "But suppose the water should fail us, how can we get out again from so great a depth?"

Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.

How a Tortoise Came to Grief Because He Loved His Home Too Much

The Jataka

Once on a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a village as a potter's son. He plied the potter's trade, and had a wife and family to support.

At that time there lay a great natural lake close by the great river of Benares. When there was much water, river and lake were one; but when the water was low, they were apart.

Now fish and tortoises know by instinct when the year will be rainy and when there will be a drought. So at the time of our story the fish and tortoises which lived in that lake knew there would be a drought; and when the two were one water, they swam out of the lake into the river.

But there was one tortoise that would not go into the river, because, said he, "Here I was born, and here I have grown up, and here is my parents' home; leave it I cannot!"

Then in the hot season the water all dried up. He dug a hole and buried himself, just in the place where the Bodhisatta was used to come for clay. There the Bodhisatta came to get some clay; with a big spade he dug down, till he cracked the tortoise' shell, turning him out on the ground as though he were a large piece of clay.

In his agony the creature thought, "Here I am, dying, all because I was too fond of my home to leave it!"

And in the words of these verses following he made his moan:

Here was I born, and here I lived; my refuge was the clay;
And now the clay has played me false in a most grievous way;
Thee, thee I call, O Bhaggava; hear what I have to say!

Go where thou canst find happiness, where'er the place may be;
Forest or village, there the wise both home and birthplace see;
Go where there's life; nor stay at home for death to master thee.

So he went on and on, talking to the Bodhisatta, till he died.

The Bodhisatta picked him up, and collecting all the villagers addressed them thus:

Look at this tortoise. When the other fish and tortoises went into the great river, he was too fond of home to go with them, and buried himself in the place where I get my clay. Then as I was digging for clay, I broke his shell with my big spade, and turned him out on the ground in the belief that he was a large lump of clay.

Then he called to mind what he had done, lamented his fate in two verses of poetry, and expired. So you see he came to his end because he was too fond of his home.

Take care not to be like this tortoise. Don't say to yourselves, "I have sight, I have hearing, I have smell, I have taste, I have touch, I have a son, I have a daughter, I have numbers of men and maids for my service, I have precious gold."

Do not cleave to these things with craving and desire. Each being passes through three stages of existence."

Thus did he exhort the crowd with all a Buddha's skill. The discourse was bruited abroad all over India, and for full seven thousand years it was remembered. All the crowd abode by his exhortation; and gave alms and did good until at last they went to swell the hosts of heaven.

The Three Fishes

The Masnavi

There was in a secluded place a lake, which was fed by a running stream, and in this lake were three fishes, one very wise, the second half wise, and the third foolish.

One day some fishermen passed by that lake, and having espied the fish, hastened home to fetch their nets. The fish also saw the fishermen and were sorely disquieted.

The very wise fish, without a minute's delay, quitted the lake and took refuge in the running stream which communicated with it, and thus escaped the impending danger.

The half wise fish delayed doing anything till the fishermen actually made their appearance with their nets. He then floated upon ths surface of the water, pretending to be dead, and the fisherman took him up and threw him into the stream, and by this devise he saved his life.

But the foolish fish did nothing but swim wildly about, and was taken and killed by the fishermen.

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Revised March 30, 2020.