The Mountebank and the Countryman


A certain wealthy patrician, intending to treat

the Roman people with some theatrical entertainment,

publicly offered a reward to any one

who would produce a novel spectacle. Incited

by emulation, artists arrived from all parts to

contest the prize, among whom a well-known

witty Mountebank (mountebank – charlatan; pretender)

gave out that he had a new

kind of entertainment that had never yet been

produced on any stage. This report being

spread abroad, brought the whole city together.

The theatre could hardly contain the number

of spectators. And when the artist appeared

alone upon the stage, without any apparatus or

any assistants, curiosity and suspense kept the

spectators in profound silence. On a sudden

he thrust down his head into his bosom, and

mimicked the squeaking of a young pig so naturally

that the audience insisted upon it that he

had one under his cloak, and ordered him to be

searched, which, being done and nothing appearing,

they loaded him with the most extravagant


A Countryman among the audience observing

what passed “Oh !” says he, “I can do

better than this” ; and immediately gave out

that he would perform the next day. Accordingly,

on the morrow, a yet greater crowd was

collected. Prepossessed, however, in favor of the

Mountebank, they came rather to laugh at the

Countryman than to pass a fair judgment on

him. They both came out upon the stage.

The Mountebank grunts away at first, and calls

forth the greatest clapping and applause. Then

the Countryman, pretending that he concealed

a little pig under his garments (and he had,

in fact, really got one) pinched its ear till he

made it squeak. The people cried out that the

Mountebank had imitated the pig much more

naturally, and hooted to the Countryman to

quit the stage ; but he, to convict them to their

face, produced the real pig from his bosom.

“And now, gentlemen, you may see,” said he,

“what a pretty sort of judges you are !”

It is easier to convince a man against his

senses than against his will.

Aesop’s Fables, edited by Rev. Thomas James M.A., World Public Library Association


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  1. #1 by Kasey Farrey on September 12, 2011 - 5:52 am

    whoah this blog is great i like reading your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You already know, many people are searching round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

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