Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Render Unto Caesar - Or, Not
I don't know if this is actually an old fable or not. I ran across it in Isaac Asimov's novel Foundation, in which one character explains to a recently defeated enemy how to exert one's will without resorting to out-and-out force.
In desperation to preserve its life, a horse seeks an ally in its war against a powerful and dangerous enemy, the wolf. He approaches a man and suggests an alliance, pointing out that the wolf is likewise an enemy of man.
The man accepts the partnership, but only if the horse is willing to place its greater speed and agility at the man's disposal. The horse agrees, allowing the man to outfit it with bridle, bit, and saddle. The man mounts the horse, spurs it on, and together they hunt down the wolf and kill it.
The horse, joyful and relieved, thanks the man and says, "Now that we have defeated our common enemy, please remove your bridle and saddle and restore me to my former freedom."
Whereupon the man laughs loudly and replies, "Never!" and proceeds to re-apply the spurs.
I don't know about you, but my back hurts.