Storybook: The Tortoise and The Hare by Aesop's Fables | The story concerns a Hare who ridicules a slow-moving Tortoise. Tired of the Hare's boastful behaviour, the Tortoise challenges him to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the race. When the Hare awakes however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him. The later version of the story in La Fontaine's Fables (VI.10), while more long-winded, differs hardly at all from Aesop's.
As in several other fables by Aesop, there is a moral ambiguity about the lesson it is teaching. Later interpreters have asserted that it is the proverbial 'the more haste, the worse speed' (Samuel Croxall) or have applied to it the Biblical observation that 'the race is not to the swift' (Ecclesiastes 9.11). In Classical times it was not the Tortoise’s plucky conduct in taking on a bully that was emphasised but the Hare’s foolish over-confidence. An old Greek source comments that 'many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness; on the other hand, sobriety, zeal and perseverance can prevail over indolence.
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