Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Aesop's Fable of Internet Arguments

Most people, when they hear Aesop's name, think "talking animals." That, however, is not the complete picture. Many of Aesop's short stories feature people, and several of the Greek gods and heroes also make an appearance. They address a wide variety of morals and teachings, sometimes longer than the story itself.
I just run into this particular Aesop's fable today, and I thought I'd share, since it is very applicable to modern day situations:

One day our favorite hero Heracles was traveling through a narrow passage in the mountains. As he trudged along, he noticed a small object, not unlike an apple, on the ground. At this point Heracles employed his go-to solution for encountering strange objects on the road: He hit it with his club. But instead of resulting in a satisfying squishy sound and some apple juice, the object seemed to grow twice its size from the hit. Heracles did what Heracles does best: He hit it again, harder. The object, in complete disregard to the hero's ego and effort, once again doubled its size. Heracles, legendarily strong but not renown for critical thinking, kept hitting it until it swelled so large it blocked his way through the passage. While he stood there, scratching his head, trying to figure out if there was a way to un-hit a solid object, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, spoke to him from the rock she had been sitting on, watching the show:
"Oh Heracles, don't be surprised! That object you have been trying to smash so heroically is Strife itself. The more one tries to destroy it by force, the larger it gets. If you leave it alone, it stays small; but if you try to fight it, it will become a rather large inconvenience."
"So... it wasn't an apple, then?"
"No, Heracles, it wasn't an apple."
"Oh good. That would have been embarrassing."

Okay, so I might have embellished it a little, but the gist is the same. I wanted to share it as an illustration to the idea that "not feeding the trolls" is by no way a modern concept that came about with the age of the Internet. People have been perfectly well arguing endlessly about insignificant things long before technology made the option global.
I also find it fun that Strife resembles an apple; it is probably a nod to Eris' golden apple that stared that whole mess with Helen of Troy.


  1. I love Aesop, and this is a great one.

  2. Heracles, legendarily strong but not renown for critical thinking...

    This made me laugh out loud :D

    Nice parallel old to new, and so true!

  3. Great story …. I'm sure there's lots of times in my life I could do with remembering this story!!

    Fil's Place - Old Songs and Memories

  4. Haha...Oh Heracles!! Quite deep! Loved the way you retold this!

  5. I love Aesop's Fables and read them regularly at bedtime to my youngest son. He got such a kick out of them and so did I. This fable is compelling and useful--one that I was unfamiliar with. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  6. Great story with a moral that lasts through the ages. Poor Heracles, he sounds like someone I would say has "street smarts." ;)

  7. The best fables get their point across with a bit of laughter; this one did it great. And so apt for the modern age. In Mexico we have a saying that perfectly describes arguing with trolls: "don't feed cherries to pigs." ;)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

  8. Fun story, I've not ever really into fable's but did enjoy this. Road tripping through a-z

    Sandy at Traveling Suitcase

  9. Love this. Hope the troll concerned is reading this.

  10. Wonderfully embellished.--Jane

  11. The Disney Channel Show "Wonder over Yonder" had their own episode on "Don't feed the Trolls". It was about a race of imp-ish creatures that grew larger when you insulted or fought them