The Ant and the Grasshopper, alternatively titled The Grasshopper and the Ant (or Ants), is one of Aesop’s Fables, numbered 373 in the Perry Index. The fable describes how a hungry grasshopper begs for food from an ant when winter comes and is refused. The situation sums up moral lessons about the virtues of hard work and planning for the future.
Even in Classical times, however, the advice was mistrusted and an alternative story represented the ant’s industry as mean and self-serving. Jean de la Fontaine’s delicately ironical retelling in French later widened the debate to cover the themes of compassion and charity. Since the 18th century the grasshopper has been seen as the type of the artist and the question of the place of culture in society has also been included. Argument over the fable’s ambivalent meaning has generally been conducted through adaptation or reinterpretation of the fable in literature, arts and music.
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