Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Cat Maiden and Venus

Of all the Aesop fables, "The Cat Maiden and Venus" is one of my favorites. I confess that part of me resents Aesop's fables. The set-ups to the stories are good, but they are so moralistic. Unlike fairy tales, where fools at least get a chance to make up for their mistakes, Aesop's animal tales expose the wretchedness of human error. In fables, there is only justice, not mercy.

At least, in Jack Kent's versions, the humorous illustrations made up for the gravity of the lessons learned in Aesop's pithy tales. In "The Cat Maiden and Venus," a cat falls in love with a human man. Venus, the Roman Goddess of Amor, helps the cat shape-shift into a human female. Jack Kent's illustration depicts the cat-turned-human spotting a mouse, and pouncing on it with her long bridal veil streaming behind her. Venus is repulsed by this unseemly show, and turns the human back into a cat. Moral: Nature triumphs over nurture.

I have warned Phil that this is what will happen with his new cat, Nimiel. I have hinted as much to my husband, Bede, that the reason I scratch the furniture, howl for crunchies, and demand to be scratched behind the ears may have something to do with the magical interference of a certain pagan goddess. No one heeds. Moral: In the end, you will remember that I told you so.

Nimiel Posted by Hello

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