What Happened To The Tortoise Who Wanted To Fly?


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Will Martin answered
In this short, brutal fable, the tortoise envied the eagle his soaring flight; so the eagle agreed to teach him to fly. He carried the tortoise up to a mountain-top and then, as he would have done with his own young, dropped him. The tortoise fell hundreds of feet and was smashed to pieces. (In one version of this fable, the eagle planned the whole thing as a way of getting the tortoise's shell open, so he could eat him.

Another fable tells how the tortoise wanted to travel across the sea. Two birds (usually swallows) agreed to carry him between them; they each held one end of a rope, and the tortoise held on with his mouth. All went well until some children began to laugh at this funny sight; whereupon the tortoise shouted, "don't you dare laugh at me!" Of course, as soon as he opened his mouth he let go of the rope and fell in the sea.

Both stories seem to have the message that you should know your limits; in particular, the second one warns against vanity.

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