Which Aesop's Fable about persistence and ingenuity can be summarized with the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way?"
And the answer: The Crow and the Pitcher.
The story tells the tale of a thirsty crow, who happens upon a pitcher with water at the bottom, just beyond the reach of its beak. After failing to push the pitcher over, the bird drops in pebbles one by one, until the water rises to the top of the pitcher, allowing the crow to drink.
Though they were written many millennia ago, Aesop's fables are uniquely able to speak to modern and often relevant lessons in human morality. In fact, artistic use of the fable may go back to Roman times, since one of the mosaics that has survived is thought to have the story of the crow and the pitcher as its subject.
For most of their history, Aesop's fables were told and passed down orally, as a source of entertainment and means of relaying a lesson. The fables, written down in Greek between the 10th-16th centuries CE, may not be recorded in the exact words as when they were first told. Over time, words have been changed or adapted to fit the storyteller's purpose (or altered naturally, due to the numerous times the stories were retold). Despite these changes, the presence and role of animals remained consistent.
Politically, the fables emerged at a time in Greek history where free speech was limited by authoritarian rule. As such, the fables offered a means of societal critique without facing legal repercussions. They also created a source of entertainment and enlightenment for the lower classes that offered a message other than "might makes right." The fables enabled and encouraged a new form of logic, which Aristotle, in Rhetoric, argued could be used as support for one's argument in the absence of any concrete evidence.
Did You Know?
The Library of Congress has published 146 of Aesop's fables online! You can enjoy all of them, complete with illustrations, on their interactive website.
Learn more about Aesop and his legendary fables below.