The Frog's King

by Daniel Mackie April 15, 2014

Be careful what you wish for 

Fog By Daniel Mackie


I have been meaning to add a frog to the Collection for a long time, but it took me a while to get a simple enough composition. Unusually for me the creature's environment is not entirely within it, the frog is in the water!

Frogs feature a lot in folklore and mythology. The Battle of Frogs and Mice is a fable attributed to Homer about the futility of war. There is of course the frog prince, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends a frog, kisses it (in Grimm’s fairy tales she throws it against a wall!) and it turns in to a handsome prince.

I like this fable from Aesop, The Frogs that Desired a King. Unlike a lot of the other fables by Aesop, this one draws a number of different conclusions. The conclusion I reached after reading it was not the same as a number of historical analysts, notably Martin Luther, a German 16th century monk and Roger L’Estrange, a 17th century English royalist. I was in agreement with William Caxton, a 15th century English merchant who was responsible for introducing the printing press to Britain .

So what do you make of the fable?

There is a group of frogs and they ask Zeus for a king. Zeus throws a log into their pond. Initially the frogs are frightened by the splash, but soon get bolder and venture over to the log. They climb onto it, then they start to make fun of it. They then ask Zeus for a “real king”. This time Zeus gives them a water snake, who promptly starts eating the frogs. The frogs immediately appeal to Zeus, but this time Zeus says that the frogs must live with the consequence of their request.

In later versions it is a stork that eats the frogs not a water snake.

So….Martin Luther, concluded that as a result of human wickedness there is a shortage of good rulers and humanity deserves the rulers it gets, concluding, the frogs must have their storks.

Roger L’Estrange concluded that the mob (the frogs) are never satisfied with what they have, a king or no king, a government of no government, they will always shift opinion and are restless.

William Caxton concluded that, he that has liberty should keep it well, for there is nothing better than liberty.

Watercolour painting of a frog by Daniel Mackie, in progress
Above painting in progress.

The Frog design is available as a card or print.

Image © Daniel Mackie 




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