Selecciones de La Oveja Negra y Demas Fabulas

For a class I took in Spanish translation, we were required to translate one work of at least 2000 words as our final project. For my project, I chose to translate several selections from a book of fables written by the modern author Augusto Montoroso. The fables are highly entertaining, and, as far as I know, have never before been translated into English. So, here you have it--the original translation of Montoroso's fables by yours truly!

The Rabbit and the Lion

A celebrated Psychoanalyst found himself one day in the middle of the forest, half lost.

With the strength that instinct and the zeal for investigation gives, he easily succeeded in seating himself in a very tall tree, from which he could observe at whim not only the setting of the sun, but also the life and customs of certain animals, which he compared over and over with those of humans.

When the afternoon came, he saw the Rabbit appear on one side, and on the other, the Lion.

At first, it did not even seem worthy of mentioning, but a little later both animals sensed each other's presence and, when they ran into each other, each one reacted as had been done since the beginning of time.

The Lion shook the Forest with his roars, majestically shaking his mane according to the custom, and splitting the air with his enormous claws. For his part, the Rabbit breathed more quickly, looked for an instant at Lion's eyes, turned around, and ran off.

Upon returning to the city, the celebrated Psychoanalyst published cum laude his famous treatise in which he demonstrates that the Lion is the most childish and cowardly animal of the Forest, and the Rabbit the most valiant and wise. The Lion roars and makes gestures and threatens a Universe moved with fear. The Rabbit takes note of this, knows his own strength, and backs off before losing his patience. He does not finish off that extravagant, out-of-control creature, whom he understands and who, after all, has done nothing to him.

The Monkey who wanted to be a satirist

In the forest there once lived a Monkey who wanted to be a satirist.

He studied profusely, but he soon realized that, in order to be a satirist, he needed to be familiar with people. Therefore, he applied himself to visiting everyone, going to cocktail parties and observing them out of the corner of his eye, while they were distracted by the glasses in their hands.

As he was truly gracious and his agile pirouettes entertained the other animals, he was well-received wherever he went, and he perfected the art of being even better-received.

There was no one whom he did not enchant by his conversation, and, when he arrived, he was as jubilantly received by the female Monkeys as by the Monkeys' spouses and the other inhabitants of the Forest. As contrary as they all were to him in international, national, and domestic politics, he nevertheless showed himself to be invariably understanding; always, of course, with the zeal of thoroughly investigating human nature and being able to describe it in his satires.

Finally, he arrived at the moment in which, of all the animals, he was the most skilled critic of human nature, and nothing could escape him.

Therefore, one day he said, "I am going to write against thieves." He settled on the magpie, and he began to do it with enthusiasm, and he enjoyed himself and laughed, and his pleasure rose to the treetops because of the things that occurred to him about the magpies. But suddenly, he realized that among the animals in society there were many magpies, and especially one, who had been entertained by how they had been described in his satire, so smoothly did he write; therefore, he quit doing it.

Then he tried to write about opportunists, and he focused on the Serpent, who, by different means, assisted in reality by his art of flattery, was always able to maintain, or substitute, or improve his position. But various Serpent friends of his, and especially one, sensed that they had been alluded to, and he quit doing it. Next he tried to satirize compulsive workers, and he focused on the Bee, who worked stupidly, without knowing why or for whom he did it. But for fear of offending his friends of this type, and especially one of them, he ended up comparing them favorably to the Grasshopper, who was so egotistical that he did nothing more than sing continually, like a poet. And he quit doing it.

Then, it occurred to him to write against sexual promiscuity, and he aimed his satire at the adulterous Chickens, who walked restlessly all day long in search of roosters. But so many of these had admitted it that he was afraid of offending them, and he quit doing it.

Finally, he elaborated a complete list of human weaknesses and faults, and he found nobody against whom to direct his batteries, because all were in his own circle of friends, who dined with him at his table.

At that moment, he renounced his desire to be a satirist, and he began to lean towards Mysticism and Love and things like that. But after that, people being how they are, everyone said that he had gone crazy, and they no longer received him so well or with so much pleasure.

The Fly who dreamed he was an Eagle

There once was a Fly who dreamed every night that he was an Eagle and that he found himself flying over the Alps and over the Andes.

At first, this caused him to become crazy with happiness; but after some time it caused him a sensation of anguish, because he found the wings too big, the body too heavy, the beak too hard, and the claws too strong. In short, all of this huge apparatus prevented him from alighting comfortably on sweet desserts or on human filth, so that he suffered consciously, colliding against the windows of his house.

In reality, he did not want to fly at great heights, nor in open spaces, nor anything like that.

But when he would wake up, he would lament with his whole soul that he was not an Eagle who could soar over mountains, and he felt very sorry to be a Fly. Because of this he flew so much, and he was so restless, and buzzed around so much, that slowly, at night, he returned to laying his head on the pillow.

Faith and mountains

In the beginning, Faith moved mountains only when it was absolutely necessary, so that the countryside remained the same for millenniums. But when Faith began to grow, and the people seemed to be entertained by the idea of moving mountains, the mountains did nothing but change locations. And it became increasingly harder to find one in the same place that it had been the night before, which, of course, created more difficulties than it resolved.

Good people, then, preferred to abandon Faith, and now the mountains generally remain in one place.

So when there is an avalanche on a highway and several travelers are buried, it is because someone, very far away or very close, had a small inkling of faith.

The Owl who wanted to save humanity

A long time ago, in the depths of the Forest, there lived an Owl who began to worry about others.

Consequently, he gave himself over to meditating about the evildoings that the Lion did with his power; about the weaknesses of the ant, who was crushed everyday, perhaps when he was most busy; about the laugh of the Hyena, who never got to the point; about the pigeon who even complained that the air sustained him in his flight; about the Spider who trapped the Fly; and about the Fly who, with all his intelligence, let himself be trapped by the Spider-in short, about all the defects that disgraced Humanity. And he began to think of ways to remedy these things.

Soon he adopted the custom of staying awake and roaming the streets to observe how the people conducted themselves, and he was filling himself with scientific and psychological knowledge. And little by little, he was arranging his thoughts and putting them in a small notebook.

In this manner, a few years later he developed a great capacity to classify, and he knew exactly when the Lion would roar and when the Hyena would laugh, and what the Country Rat would do when he visited the City Rat, and what the Dog who carried a cake in his mouth would do when he saw reflected in the water the image of a Dog who carried a cake in his mouth, and what the Crow would do when they told him how well he sung.

And, therefore, he concluded: "If the Lion would not live as he does, but rather as the Horse does; and if the Horse would not live as he does, but rather as the Lion does; and if the Boa would not live as he does, but rather as the Calf does; and if the Calf would not live as he does, but rather as the Boa does, and so on, Humanity would be saved, since everyone would live in peace, and war would return to the way it was when there was no war."

But the other animals did not appreciate the efforts of the Owl, although he supposed that they had supposed him to be very wise. Therefore, they truly believed that he was crazy and did not realize the profundity of his thoughts, and they continued eating each other, except for the Owl, who was not food for anyone neither did he eat anyone.

The Thunderbolt that fell twice in the same place

There once was a Thunderbolt that fell twice in the same place; but he discovered that he had already done sufficient damage the first time, so that he was no longer necessary. And he became very depressed.

The Giraffe who suddenly understood that everything is relative

A long time ago, in a faraway country, there lived a Giraffe of normal height, but he was so careless that one time he left the Forest and got lost.

Disoriented as always, he began to walk recklessly here and there, and however much he bent down to find the road, he could not find it.

So, wandering, he arrived at a gorge where, at that moment, a great battle was taking place.

In spite of the fact that casualties were very high on both sides, nobody was disposed to cede a millimeter of land.

The generals harangued their troops with their swords held high, and at the same time, the snow took on a purple tinge with the blood of the wounded.

Between the smoke and the noise of the canons, one could see the dead of each army falling, with barely enough time to commend their souls to the devil; but the survivors continued shooting enthusiastically, until they fell with a stupid gesture. But as they fell, they assumed that History would recognize them as heroic, because they died to defend their flag. And, effectively, History did recognize these efforts as heroic (so much as History recognizes one effort as heroic as it recognizes another), since each side wrote its own history. Therefore, Wellington was a hero to the English, and Napoleon was a hero to the French.

Through all of this, the Giraffe continued walking, until he arrived at a part of the gorge in which there was mounted an enormous Canon, which at that precise instant fired a shot some twenty centimeters over his head, more or less.

Upon seeing the bullet pass so close by, and while he followed its trajectory with his eyes, the Giraffe thought: "What a good thing it is that I am not so tall, since if my neck had measured thirty centimeters more, that bullet would have blown my head off. Or rather, what a good thing it is that this part of the gorge where the Canon is mounted is not too deep, since if it had measured twenty centimeters fewer, the bullet also would have blown my head off. Now I understand that everything is relative."

The other six

Tradition says that in a distant country there lived some years past an Owl. By dint of meditating and burning the midnight oil with studying, thinking, translating, giving conferences, writing poems, stories, biographies, theater reviews, discourses, literary essays and many other things, he came to know and try practically everything in every genre of human knowledge. He did this in such a public way that his contemporary enthusiasts soon declared him one of the Seven Wise Men of the Country-although they had not yet ascertained who the other six were.


A long time ago, in ancient Greece, there lived a poet named Pygmalion, who dedicated himself to constructing statues so perfect that they only lacked the ability to speak.

Once finished, he taught them many of the things he knew; literature in general, poetry in particular, a little politics, a little music, and, finally, some of the art of making jokes and coming out ahead in any conversation.

When the poet judged that they were finally prepared, he contemplated them satisfied for some minutes. And then, without even trying, and without ordering them to do anything, he made them speak.

From that instant on, the statues dressed themselves and went out into the street. And whether in the street or in the house, they spoke unceasingly.

The poet took pleasure in his work, and he let them do it. And when visitors came, he remained silent (which served as a relief) while his statue entertained everyone, sometimes at his own expense, with the most humorous anecdotes.

The best part of all was that the moment arrived when the statues, as will happen, began to think that they were better than their creator, and they began to say bad things about him.

They reasoned that if they already knew how to speak, now they only lacked the ability to fly, and they began to make efforts with every type of wing, including wax wings, discredited a little while ago in an unfortunate adventure.

On occasion, they made a genuine effort, they became red, and they were able to elevate themselves two or three centimeters, a height that, of course, made them dizzy, since they were not designed for that.

Some, repentant, stopped doing this and resigned themselves to being able to speak and to make others dizzy with their speaking.

Others, obstinate, persisted in their zeal, and the Greeks that passed by there imagined them to be crazy, seeing them continually making little jumps which they considered to be flying.

Still others concluded that the poet was the perpetrator of all these problems, whether it be jumping or simply speaking, and they tried to put out his eyes.

Sometimes, when the poet got tired of it, he gave them a kick in the rear, and they fell apart into of small pieces of marble.

The good conscience

In the center of the Forest there lived an extravagant family of carnivorous plants who, with the passage of time, began to acquire conscience regarding their strange custom, principally because of the constant gossip that the good Zephyr carried to them from all directions of the City.

Sensitive to the criticism, they little by little began to view flesh with repugnance, until the moment arrived in which they not only repudiated it in the figurative sense, but finally they refused to eat it, disgusted to such an extent that the mere sight of it made them nauseated.

Therefore, they decided to become vegetarians.

Since that day, they eat only each other, and they live tranquilly, having forgotten their infamous past.