Foreword by the publisher
Having achieved significant commercial and literary success with his compendium of fables, published in 580 BCE, Aesop was able to pay his way out of slavery and into the infinitely more profitable business of self-promotion and after dinner speaking. History has not recorded the exact details of these missing years of Aesop's life, which was why we here at Anythingforadolla books were thrilled to discover this untouched manuscript believed to have been penned by Aesop himself in around 571 BCE. The publishers understand that having found initial success with fables, Aesop found himself struggling to make ends meet so he used the remainder of his personal wealth to purchase a stall near Thermopylae selling stylish tables to appoint the typical Ancient Greek dwelling.
This manuscript appears to chronicle Aesop's efforts to replicate the success he had had in literature into a fast paced business world.
The Tortoise and the Hare
There was once a tortoise, whose regular route to and from Lamia took him past a thriving retail outlet near Thermopylae. The tortoise was not particularly wise, for he rarely stopped to examine the fine woodwork or appreciate the craftsmanship on display at the thriving retail outlet or to consider the very competitively priced wares, but he was rich and powerful. One day the tortoise passed the retail outlet and had cause to speak to its proprietor.
"What am I to do?" he opined "I find that occasionally I have cause to eat and it is in my nature, for I am a tortoise, to utilise a table for these purposes. However, for want of a bucket of water my last table was reduced to tinder!"
The wise and kindly proprietor replied "Perhaps sir would be interested in our purchase one and buy a second for a significantly reduced price offer where the purchase of a single table would entitle one to purchase a second at a significantly reduced price?".
The tortoise agreed that this seemed a most beneficial idea, giving the customer significant incentive to spend more money, thus allowing the proprietor to build better tables and partake of meat products that cycle of the moon. The tortoise was in the process of reaching into his shell for his money when a libellous hare rode past on his way to Athens.
The slanderous hare called out to the tortoise "Don't buy any of his tables mate, it's a con, I bought one and all the legs fell off, then when I tried to return it he refused unless I provided proof of purchase on a small bit of paper."
The honest proprietor was deeply hurt by this slanderous remark and called the Hare a "Liar" and recommended he engage in sexual relations with himself before the next time he passed that way. The hare made a rude gesture at the honourable proprietor and rode on. The tortoise, who was not a wise tortoise, was disturbed by this slanderous libel and became reluctant to purchase the competitively priced Oak veneer end table and matching table-that-goes-by-a-bed.
The tortoise demanded a guarantee that if he was not satisfied with his purchase he could return it without any enquiries being put forth by the proprietor. The virtuous proprietor had made very little money that month so agreed to the tortoise's harsh and wholly unreasonable conditions. A sale was completed and all parties departed that evening satisfied with the events of the day.
That night the foolish tortoise placed a goblet of wine upon the table, at which point all four legs fell off and spontaneously caught fire. The tortoise, who was not a wise man, but was rich and powerful had somehow managed to damage the perfect creation sold to him by the humble proprietor. The tortoise returned to the remarkable proprietor the next day, the patient proprietor was shocked and saddened by the tortoise's accusations that the table was "Shit" and that he himself was the son of a woman of limited virtue.
The argument became heated and the tortoise was accidentally beaten up by four large men that the frail proprietor had hired for his own protection. Shortly after this the tortoise agreed that he had probably sawed the table's legs off himself and departed for home with his head nailed to a rather handsome display table.
In this way the tortoise learned that the forthright proprietor was not a "Shit pedlar" but was just trying to make his way in the world, in future the tortoise always treated others with respect and dignity and in this way he became an infinitely better person, he also got a free table.
The Farmer and the Viper
Far, far away in the midst of a pine forest, there lived a farmer, this farmer had thrived after brokering a contract with a financially astute table seller to supply him with the wood to make his tables. In return the kindly table seller allowed him three days holiday per year and as many tables as he could fit into his crude straw house. This was a symbiotic relationship in which both supplier and recipient enjoyed significant benefits, tables mostly. One day a vicious viper became jealous of the financial advantages that seemed to come so easily to the farmer so he set out to poison the farmer's mind against the imitable table salesman.
One day shortly after midnight, as the farmer's three small children began chopping wood in preparation for a fourteenth week of bargains, bargains, bargains at the table store the serpentine serpent slithered into their midst.
Knowing that the children would surely kill him with axes if he revealed his true intent he feigned an interest in them, he asked "What are such young children doing chopping wood at midnight?"
Finding no satisfaction in the answer "Delivering our trademark legendary customer service" the viper filled the children's heads with fanciful notions. It was, he said, wrong to be paid only in Aesop's tables vouchers and to have only three days off per calendar year, he demanded that the children take him to their father. The children, who were little more than children, were taken in by the viper's poisonous lies and together they went to find the farmer. However, no matter where they looked he was not to be found, he was not down the mine, he was not rebuilding the straw house nor was he re-lighting any of the seventeen furnaces.
The viper could sense that his plans were on the verge of failure so he asked the children "Where is the shop that sells these tables?"
Of course, being diligent and committed members of a burgeoning workforce the children knew precisely where the thriving retail outlet was located and they, in their innocence imparted this information to the wicked viper. They did however, neglect to mention the bargains, bargains, bargains and the ability to tether one's conveyance close to the entrance without making additional payments, which were available to all customers of this store.
So it came to be that the viper came to the humble store located, as you are doubtless aware, in scenic Thermopylae and he marvelled at its abundant parking and reasonable prices. Regrettably wickedness is a most potent vice and even the offer to buy a table on that particular day and pay absolutely nothing for several full cycles of the moon could not distil the viper's evil.
The viper moved into the store and despite the wickedness in his heart did pause to examine a very reasonably priced solid pine dining table, before his eyes lighted upon the farmer. He approached the farmer and cried "What kind of man are you that would sell your children into slavery for cheap tables?". This was a highly unfair accusation, the children had not been sold, merely enrolled in a thirty-year work/study programme. The tables are cheap, but their price is inversely proportionate to their quality.
The farmer was lost for words and quailed in the face of the viper's rage. Alerted by the commotion the peaceable proprietor approached and appealed for calm, the viper turned his rage upon him accusing him of being born to unmarried parents and of regularly pleasuring himself to the detriment of his other duties.
The argument became heated and the viper was accidentally beaten up by seven large men that the frail proprietor had hired for his own protection. Shortly after this the viper agreed that the children were probably better off chopping wood for the entirety of their short lives and departed for home with his head nailed to a very competitively priced dining table, coincidentally the same one he had admired on entering the store. The farmer continued to work in return for tables and the children continued to chop wood 362 days a year, with occasional opportunities for seventy-two hour overtime.
In this way the viper learned that it is very rarely worth investigating the manner in which a company produces its very fine wares, that businessmen are honourable professionals and that it is always much better to accept the world as it is. He also got a free table.
The Astrologer who Fell into a Well
Note from the publisher:
When this manuscript came into our possession this chapter was already missing, it is believed that it was removed by the author shortly after writing. It is theorised that this tale related to an astrologer who fell into a well, though the reasons for this will remain forever lost to history.
In the interests of posterity we include the only remaining sentences from the chapter below.
The well was very very deep and the splash took a long time to come. The unimpeachable proprietor reasoned that given the unique and complex circumstances there was no way he could be held responsible for the death.
The Trumpeter Taken Captive
There was once a naive young man who found himself in need of gainful employment. Finding himself lacking any marketable skills he decided, as so many do, to pursue a career as a merchant. Unfortunately this young man was both naive and foolish and his first foray into the mercantile world, a small business selling shoes, failed spectacularly when he realised he had no start-up capital and only one pair of shoes; the ones he was wearing.
The now shoeless young man decided to head to Thermopylae, which he had heard was becoming a haven for merchants the world over. Naturally the young man made his way there and came across a prosperous establishment purveying tables to the public at unbelievably low prices. After he had finished marvelling at the prices, which were frankly unbelievable, he ventured inside reasoning that only a master of trade could have established such an establishment. The young man came upon the modest proprietor and begged him for employment.
The generous proprietor agreed to employ the young man and to pay him in life experience, a commodity that only becomes more valuable with time. The young man agreed and was employed in the capacity of trumpeter, his role was to roam around the store and surrounding areas and blow a trumpet before announcing the bargains available at the store on that particular day, thus enticing customers to take advantage of the same.
One day the trumpeter was assisting a young couple from Thessaly in their purchase of a stylish stone-topped garden table when his attention was caught by a young girl who was in the act of attempting to drag an elegantly crafted display table through a small hole she had made in the side of the store's wall. The trumpeter detained the young girl and prevented her from gnawing away at the bedrock of civilised society, at least temporarily. However, the trumpeter was still a foolish young man and instead of immediately relieving the girl of the table and her left hand he asked her why she had turned to crime.
The girl said "My family is starving, if we could sell this reasonably priced table at a much less competitive rate it could allow us to eat for several months". The naive young man then made two mistakes, he did not point out the devastating impact cumulative stock shrinkage through theft has upon a retail industry and its workers, nor did he realise that common criminals often engage in the twin pursuits of lying and cheating.
The trumpeter was wholly taken in by the girl's deception and began to help her to drag the elegantly crafted display table through the gap, worse he even gave the girl one of the coupons that would entitle her to have twenty percent of the price of her next purchase discounted. Fortunately this criminal enterprise was discovered by the twelve large men the vigilant proprietor had hired as loss-prevention officers.
The trumpeter was then forced to watch as the girl had her head nailed to the very table that she had attempted to steal as punishment for her hubris, she was then beaten up by the loss-prevention officers for being so wicked as to drag an innocent into her web of sin. The trumpeter begged the merciful proprietor for clemency, he cried that he had learnt his lesson and had been deceived. The kind proprietor was moved by his pleas, but could not forgive the crime of offering a customer a purchase necessary coupon without first accepting a purchase.
It was with a heavy heart that the proprietor ordered the trumpeter have his head nailed to the same table as the girl, hoping that in this way he would learn the folly of consorting with criminals.
In this way the trumpeter learned that people who steal things from shops deserve everything they get. He also got a free table.
The girl learned nothing, for she was a common criminal. She did however, get a free table.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading the tales of Aesop as much as we have enjoyed restoring them. People often ask us here at Anythingforadolla books "What does it take to restore a masterpiece like Aesop's Tables?" The answer? Not that much, if you go to Greece you'll find hundreds of people willing to sell you pretty much anything, we recovered most of this manuscript from a skip at the back of an Ikea near Larisa. The rest was just a case of filling in the blanks and gluing the pages back together.
We leave you to consider this image of our only other purchase from our fact-finding trip to Greece, this vase. Believed to depict Aesop himself in around 569 BCE, browsing the internet on a Sony Vaio Duo 13 whilst sitting on a diving board.