The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Topics: Fable, Aesop's Fables, The Boy Who Cried Wolf Pages: 1 (431 words) Published: July 28, 2012
he tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear, the villagers do not believe the boy's cries for help, and the flock is destroyed. The moral at the end of the story shows that this is how liars are not rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them."[2] This seems to echo a statement attributed to Aristotle by Diogenes Laërtius in his The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, where the sage was asked what those who tell lies gain by it and he answered "that when they speak truth they are not believed".[3] William Caxton similarly closes his version with the remark that "men bileve not lyghtly hym whiche is knowen for a lyer".[4] The story dates from Classical times but, since it was recorded only in Greek and not translated into Latin until the 15th century, it only began to gain currency after it appeared in Heinrich Steinhowel's collection of the fables and so spread through the rest of Europe. For this reason, there was no agreed title for the story. Caxton titles it "Of the child whiche kepte the sheep" (1484), Hieronymus Osius "The boy who lied" ("De mendace puero", 1574), Francis Barlow "Of the herd boy and the farmers" ("De pastoris puero et agricolis", 1687), Roger L'Estrange "A boy and false alarms" (1692), George Fyler Townsend "The shepherd boy and the wolf" (1867). It was under the final title that Edward Hughes set it as the first of ten "Songs from Aesop's fables" for children’s voices and piano, in a poetic version by Peter Westmore (1965). Teachers have used the fable as a cautionary tale about telling the truth but a recent educational experiment suggested that reading "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" increased children’s likelihood of lying. A book on George Washington and the cherry tree, on the other hand decreased childish mendacity dramatically.[5] The suggestibility and favourable outcome of the behaviour described therefore...
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