Aesopic fable, derived from the medieval prose version by Phaedrus. One frosty autumn day an ant was busily storing away some of the kernels of wheat he had gathered during the summer to eat throughout the coming winter. A grasshopper, half perishing from hunger, came limping by. Seeing what the industrious ant was doing, he asked for a morsel from the ant’s store to save his life. “What were you doing all during the summer while I was busy harvesting?” inquired the ant. “Oh,” replied the grasshopper, “I was not idle. I was singing and chirping all day long.” “Well,” said the ant, smiling grimly as he locked his granary door, “it looks as though you will have to dance all winter.”
Moral: It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow. The ant is nearly always used as an example of hard work, as in Proverbs (6:6) in the Old Testament. La Fontaine’s first fable deals with this subject. It forms the basis for three French operas, all called La Cigale et la Fourmi, written in the 19th century. The fable also influenced some North American Indian fables, which derived the story from European versions.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante