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The hare and the tortoise: The race is not to speedy (II). Aesop Fable described

Have a beautiful third week of April. Today, where I live, the cicadas (in Spanish we call them chicharras) have been singing loudly. It was the prelude of the first rain of this month, and I might believe the cicadas were proclaiming a beautiful spring. It is being said that the cicadas sing when rain is near. And it was true. So we have experienced rain, some thunders and lightnings.

Let’s try to understand who wrote the fable “The hare and the tortoise”, This fable is attributed to a prolific story teller. His name is Aesop.

AESOP. By Diego Rodriguez da Silva y Velazquez. Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas.

Who was Aesop? He was a bondservant and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. However, to this day there is no evidence of the exact origin of Aesop, and his place of birth oscillates between Phrygia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Samos, Athens, Sardis up to Thrace. Aesop has been identified in human history as a producer and storyteller of a long collection of Greek fables. According to Herodotus, Aesop was a slave, and had lived in the 6th century BCE. Herodotus has suggested that Aesop won the freedom from his master Xanthus because Aesop helped him to avoid humiliation, and contributed saving all his wealth. Aesop gained his freedom because of his natural literacy and extraordinary intelligence. Even Plutarch recognized his impeccable degree of ethics and imagination, to the point that Aesop was made adviser to Croesus, the king of Lydia. Sadly, it seems that Aesop died violently in Delphos, a cause of his criticism against the ways of that city inhabitants’ In revenge, they accused him unfairly of theft; and threw him off a cliff. The importance of Aesop to our days is remarkable, because his fables have defeated the time for more than 2,500 years. Aesop’s Fables, or the Aesopica, is the legacy of Aesop, a collection of more than 725 fables credited to him.

Aesop’s Fables: Ethics tales? Aesop was a story maker. As I mentioned above, he was a creator of at least 725 tales or fables. According to; Aesop fables, “were originally told from person-to-person as much for entertainment purposes but largely as a means for relaying or teaching a moral or lesson”. Aesop had a fantastic creative brain. His stories were metaphorical, symbolic and figurative. He used the animal kingdom and the plants to offer a playbook of situations, e.g. foxes, grasshoppers, frogs, cats, dogs, ants, crabs, stags, mice, turtle, rabbit, hares, and even monkeys, and attributed thought, qualities, behavior and speech, including a soul as if these characters were humans interacting and engaged in human-like situations. Each of Aesop fables, is accompanied by a moral lesson. Ultimately the fables of Aesop represent one of the most relevant quality of people : storytelling at a prolific high level.

Aesop fables were not written until maybe 300 up to 600 years after his death. Probably Aesop’s stories were not recorded in the exact words as when he created them. “Over time, and largely due to the numerous times the stories were re-told, words may have been changed or eliminated in order to fit the storyteller’s purpose”. To these days there are several versions of Aesop fables, and these have been curated by several authors and illustrators. “Aesop’s Fables were among the first illustrated books to be printed. The earliest known example was published in Bamberg, Germany, in 1461. Aesop fables, also were first published in English by William Caxton in 1484. Caxton had introduced the printing press to Britain just eight years earlier. He translated the fables into English from French translation by Julien Macho, printed by J Rousset in 1482.

This book contains a life of Aesop and his numerous fables, translated and printed by William Caxton in 1484. Book held by the British Library.

Why did Aesop yarn fables? Some historians, believe that the fables emerged in a specific moment of the Greek history, in which it was difficult to express anything without being afraid of a punishment. The fables were designed to serve as a code by which the weak and powerless could speak out against the strong and powerful. For us, the fables are an occasion to teach. To say the good and the bad of humans, using awesome imagination in the characters of animals and the nature. Aesop has impacted the education of this planet, because he cleverly designed them to transmit deep ethical lessons in a universal “children-style”. These fables have been utilized as stories for kids entertainment, and the ethical lessons are all included. In addition, the moral teachings apply to youngsters and adults. Self-reflection is triggered when we read Aesop tales. And that is why Eleonora Escalante Strategy is using Aesop fable this time.

Why did Aesop originated “The Hare and the Tortoise”? This is the paradigm that we will unfold during the next 26 episodes. Eleonora Escalante Strategy has a new theory about this fable, and we will take the time to discover it, petit a petit, in corporate strategy terms.

The Hare and the Tortoise: The Race is not to speedy” Outline revealed. As I promised to you last week, we always start our sagas with a roadmap. The outline that we will cover during the next 26 episodes is shown below. You can also download it in PDF by clicking here:

The Hare and the Tortoise fable described. I will close this episode by sharing the different popular versions of our fable. I have gathered some of them that might help us to understand what Aesop message was. I really would like you to read all the versions, because you can see the differences, even though it is the same piece of information. Please take some minutes to study each distinctive narrative. I promise it will be worth it.

Vernon Jones Version.
A hare was one day making fun of a tortoise for being so slow upon his feet. “Wait a bit,” said the tortoise. “I’ll run a race with you, and I’ll wager that I win.”
“Oh, well,” replied the hare, who was much amused at the idea, “let’s try and see.” And it was soon agreed that the fox should set a course for them and be the judge. When the time came both started off together, but the hare was soon so far ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest. So down he lay and fell fast asleep. Meanwhile the tortoise kept plodding on, and in time reached the goal. At last the hare woke up with a start and dashed on at his fastest, but only to find that the tortoise had already won the race.

Version Milo Winter (1919). Aesop For Children Version.
A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow. “Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh. “Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.” The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off. The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.
Moral: The race is not always to the swift.

Eliot/Jacobs Version
The Hare was once boasting of his speed: “I have never been beaten,” said he, “when I go full speed. I challenge any one here to race with me.” The Tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.”
“That is a good joke,” said the Hare; “I could dance round you all the way.”
“Keep your boasting till you’ve won,” answered the Tortoise. “Shall we race?”
So a course was fixed and the race started. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the finish line and could not run up in time to save the race.

Taylor Rhymes Version
Said a hare to a tortoise, “Good sir, what a while.
You have been only crossing the way;
Why I really believe that to go half a mile
You must travel two nights and a day.”
“I am very contented,” the creature replied,
“Though I walk but a tortoise’s pace;
But if you think proper the point to decide,
We will run half a mile in a race.”
“Very good,” said the hare; said the tortoise, “Proceed,
And the fox shall decide who has won.”
Then the hare started off with incredible speed;
But the tortoise walked leisurely on.
“Come, tortoise, friend tortoise, walk on,” said the hare;
“Well, I shall stay here for my dinner;
Why, ’twill take you a month at that rate to get there,
Then how can you hope to be winner?”
But the tortoise could hear not a word that she said,
For he was far distant, behind;
So the hare felt secure whilst at leisure she fed,
And took a sound nap when she dined.
So at last this slow walker came up with the hare,
And there fast asleep he did spy her;
And he cunningly crept with such caution and care,
That she woke not, although he passed by her.
“Well now,” thought the hare when she opened her eyes,
“For the race,—and I soon shall have done it;”
But who can describe her chagrin and surprise,
When she found that the tortoise had won it!
Moral: Thus plain plodding people, we often shall find,
Will leave hasty confident people behind.

Ernest Griset (1874) Version
The Hare, one day, laughing at the Tortoise for his slowness and general unwieldiness, was challenged by the latter to run a race. The Hare, looking on the whole affair as a great joke, consented, and the Fox was selected to act as umpire, and hold the stakes. The rivals started, and the Hare, of course, soon left the Tortoise far behind. Having reached midway to the goal, she began to play about, nibble the young herbage, and amuse herself in many ways. The day being warm, she even thought she would take a little nap in a shady spot, as, if the Tortoise should pass her while she slept, she could easily overtake him again before he reached the end. The Tortoise meanwhile plodded on, unwavering and unrestingly, straight towards the goal. The Hare, having overslept herself, started up from her nap, and was surprised to find that the Tortoise was nowhere in sight. Off she went at full speed, but on reaching the winning-post, found that the Tortoise was already there, waiting for her arrival.

Samuel Croxall Version (retold by William Alexander Clouston).
A hare insulted a Tortoise upon Account of his slowness, and vainly boasted of her own great speed in running. Let us make a match, replied the Tortoise, I’ll run with you five miles for five pounds, and the Fox yonder shall be the umpire of the race. The Hare agreed; and away they both started together. But the Hare, by reason of her exceeding swiftness, outran the Tortoise to such a degree, that she made a jest of the matter; and finding herself a little tired, squatted in a tuft of fern that grew by the way, and took a nap; thinking, that if the Tortoise went by, she could at any time fetch him up, with all the ease imaginable. In the mean while the Tortoise came jogging on, with a slow but continued motion; and the Hare, out of a too great security and confidence of victory, oversleeping herself, the Tortoise arrived at the end of the race first.

Townsend version.
A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.” The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
Moral: Slow but steady wins the race.

Slow and steady wins the race” Version.
There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.
Hare ran down the road for a while and then paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?”
Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax.”
Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.
The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare.
Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.
After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

See you next Friday 23rd to continue with the subject number 3 of our outline. Blessings, and all the best.

References to write some ideas of this article.
Classicist Jeremy Lefkowitz: Who Wrote Aesop’s Fables? :: News & Events :: Swarthmore College
Aesop’s Fables (Laura Gibbs, translator) (
Aesop’s Fables (Oxford World’s Classics) (Book) – World History Encyclopedia
Aesop’s Fables – World History Encyclopedia

The Hare and The Tortoise – Fables of Aesop
The Tortoise and the Hare, and Other Races between Unequal Contestants (
Aesop – The Collection – Museo Nacional del Prado (
Aesop’s Fables printed by William Caxton, 1484 – The British Library

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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