Would that Gentleman Combover were not so fableic! I try to imagine if someone else were in power in the US (from the past, or in an alternate current reality), would the correlations with the 17th century and the animal kingdom be so precise? One thing the very existence of the fables makes clear—the issues we face today, that may seem like new and fresh threats, have been around for centuries, no longer still, for millennia.
His Majesty Lion decided one day he wanted to get to know the various nations of which the heavens had made him master. He deputized his vassals of every rank to carry out his mandate, sending them to the far corners with a printed circular bearing his seal. The proclamation announced that for one month the king would hold a plenary court session, which would be opened with a huge festival, headlined by Fagotin, the renowned performing chimp. With this magnificent act, the prince would display his power to all his subjects.
He invited them all to his Louvre. What a Louvre! A real killing field, the smell was the first thing to hit people’s noses.
The bear plugged his nostrils. He would have done better to avoid the gesture. His grimace displeased the irritated monarch, who sent him to Pluto to be disgusted there.
The monkey approved this exceptional severity. And, excessive flatterer that he was, he praised the anger, and the prince’s claws, and the den, and the smell—it wasn’t amber, it wasn’t flowers, which were in any event no better than garlic in comparison. His ridiculous flattery met with no success and was also punished.
Our Most Noble Lion was kin to Caligula.
As the fox was close to hand, the Royal asked him: Ignoring all this, what do you smell? Tell me. Speak directly.
The fox, seeing no opportunity to excuse himself, pleaded a bad cold. He couldn’t say without his sense of smell. In brief, he wiggled out.
This serves our lesson: If you wish to please in the halls of power, don’t be too eager a booster, or too honest a speaker. And try here and there to respond with inscrutable gentility.
Such are the demands of working in the court of an egotistical bully. Power is capricious and in some cases caligulesque.
One certainty, if you go anywhere near power—best to carry a scented handkerchief to appease your nose discretely and practice your yes-no-maybe head bobble. And if you are truly committed to making change in the world, find your way by another route.
Previous fableogs here
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