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Aesop's Fables

by Aesop

It's not easy to learn life lessons.  Usually, you have to make a tragic error, take a disastrous misstep, or completely screw something up.  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to learn those important life lessons without enduring the pain of learning things the hard way?  Wouldn't it be great if someone else would suffer through all of the hardships, so that they could teach you the lessons?  And wouldn't it be valuable if there was a way to pass on those life lessons in a simple, easy to understand, memorable way?

Over 2500 years ago, that's exactly what Aesop did when he compiled his fables.  You probably know many of the fables - the wolf in sheep's clothing, the fox and the sour grapes, or the goose that laid the golden egg.  That's why Aesop's Fables deserves a place on the shelf of your trial lawyer's library... Your jurors know his fables, too.

Aesop's Fables What does that mean for you?  It means that this book contains dozens of valuable themes for your next trial.  It means that your jurors will immediately understand the underlying values of your arguments.  And it means you can frame your arguments more effectively, using common values and stories to drive home what might otherwise be a vague lesson.

If you stood before a jury and recited empty platitudes ("Quality, not quantity," or "A man is known by the company he keeps") the jurors might miss your point.  But imagine how much more powerfully you could present your lessons if you used stories, like Aesop's fables, to convey your arguments.  Here are a few examples for you to examine:

The Boasting Traveler.  A man once went abroad on his travels, and when he came home he had wonderful tales to tell of the things he had done in foreign countries.  Among other things, he said he had taken part in a  jumping match at Rhodes, and had done a wonderful jump which no one could beat.  "Just go to Rhodes and ask them," he said.  "Everyone will tell you it's true."  But one of those who were listening said, "If you can jump as well as all that, we needn't go to Rhodes to prove it.  Let's just imagine this is Rhodes for a minute; and now - jump!"  LESSON: Deeds, not words.

The Lioness and the Vixen.  A lioness and a vixen were talking about their young, as mothers will, and saying how healthy and well grown they were, and what beautiful coats they had, and how they were the image of their parents.  "My litter of cubs is a joy to see," said the fox.  And then she added, rather maliciously, "But I notice you never have more than one."  "No," said the lioness grimly, "but that one is a lion."  LESSON: Quality, not quantity.

The Ass and His Purchaser.  A man who wanted to buy an ass went to market, and coming across a likely-looking beast, arranged with the owner that he should be allowed to take him home on trial to see what he was like.  When he reached home he put him into his stables along with the other asses.  The newcomer took a look round, and immediately went and chose a place next to the laziest and greediest beast in the stable.  When the master saw this he put a halter on him at once, and led him off and handed him over to his owner again.  The latter was a good deal surprised to see him back so soon, and said, "Why, do you mean to say you have tested him already?"  "I don't want to put him through any more tests," replied the other.  "I could see what sort of beast he is from the companion he chose for himself."  LESSON: A man is known by the company he keeps.

The Caged Bird and the Bat.  A songbird was confined in a case which hung outside a window, and had a way of singing at night when all the other birds were asleep.  One night a bat came and clung to the bars of the cage, and asked the bird why she was silent by day and sang only at night.  "I have a very good reason for doing so," said the bird.  "It was once when I was singing in the daytime that a fowler was attracted by my voice, and set his nets for me and caught me.  Since then I have never sung except at night."  But the bat replied, "It is no use your doing that now when you are a prisoner.  If only you had done so before you were caught, you might still have been free."  LESSON: Precautions are useless after the event.

The Goatherd and the Shepherd.  A goatherd was one day gathering his flock to return to the fold, when one of his goats strayed and refused to join the rest.  He tried for a long time to get her to return by calling and whistling to her, but the goat took no notice of him at all; so at last he threw a stone at her and broke one of her horns.  In dismay, he begged her not to tell his master.  But she replied, "You silly fellow, my horn would cry aloud even if I held my tongue."  LESSON: It's no use trying to hide what can't be hidden.

How much easier is it to remember the lessons when you can ground them with stories?  It's easier to apply the lessons, too.  Wouldn't you be ecstatic if, during deliberations, the jurors used the phrase "Yes, but he is a lion" when describing your client's testimony compared to the six witnesses for your opponent?  Or to have them describe your opponent's liability as "A broken horn - they're trying to hide what can't be hidden"? 

Successful trial lawyers give the jurors tools to use during deliberations.  If you use Aesop's Fables during your closing, you can provide your jurors with valuable tools for their deliberations, tools which will support your client's desired outcome.

Add it to your litigator's library: Aesop's Fables

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE, WEBSITE, OR BAR ASSOCIATION PUBLICATION? You can, as long as you include the following blurb with it: Elliott Wilcox publishes Trial Tips Newsletter, a free weekly e-zine for trial lawyers that reveals simple, effective, and persuasive techniques to help you win more trials, guaranteed.  Sign up today for your free special report: “How to Become the Best Trial Lawyer in Your Courthouse – The Top Ten Tips for Trial Lawyers,” at

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