Aesop’s Fables:The Ant and the Grasshopper


 In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

 "Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?" 

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same." 

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; “We have plenty of food at present."

But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

      It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

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The Ant and the Grasshopper, also known as The Grasshopper and the Ant or The Grasshopper and the Ants, is a fable attributed to Aesop. It concerns a grasshopper who spent the warm months singing away while the ant (or ants in some editions) worked to store up food for winter. When the winter did come, the famished grasshopper had to beg for food from the ant, who told the grasshopper that since he sang away the summer, he could dance away the winter. The moral is stated at the end of the fable as:

Idleness brings want.

Alternate versions

·   Bowdlerized versions show the ants taking pity and giving the grasshopper some food.

·   In a 1934 animated short subject produced by Walt Disney, the Queen of the Ants decrees that the grasshopper may stay in the ant colony, but he must play his fiddle in return for his room and board. He agrees to this arrangement, and the ant tunnels become a grand ballroom where all the ants happily dance to the music of the grasshopper, who finally learns that he needs to make himself useful.

·   Don Ameche recalls an alternate version in a sauna in the film Things Change, where the grasshopper eats the ant in the end.

·   Elements of the fable were loosely adapted as the storyline of the Pixar film A Bug's Life.

·   The Ant and the Grasshopper was made into a song by Leon Rosselson in the 1970s. The song tells the story much as Aesop did.

·   Author Toni Morrison wrote the 2003 childrens book "Who's Got Game?: The Ant or the Grasshopper?" in which the old fable is given a new spin in order to provoke a discussion about the importance of art. The grasshopper represents the artisan.

·   Some times the Leo Lionni book "Frederick" touches upon similar issues of art versus gathering winter food stores.