When Zeus, the King of the Gods, created the world and the animals to live upon the earth, he determined for each species the years to live. To the sea turtles he gave a life of three hundred years, to others, such as the raven, he gave two hundred years. The elephant would get one hundred and fifty years, while the whale five hundred years of life. To butterflies Zeus gave three days of life.
Everything was new and life was just starting, so none of the animals boasted nor complained for the years they had been granted.
After creating the animals, time came for Zeus to create man. To man he would give something very special, something he had not given to any of the animals- he gave man the gift of logic.
"How many years will you give me to live?", the man wanted to know.
"Forty" was Zeus' reply.
Man thought that forty years was too little, considering the hundred years of a crow's life, for instance. However, he preferred not to complain, fearing that Zeus would take back the forty years of life he had given to him.
The life of man started in spring, when everything was nice around him, but the nights were cool and, unlike the animals, he had thin skin and he felt cold. So he decided to create skin on his own. First he gathered leaves and he sewed and wore them. But soon the leaves withered and his clothes became worn out. Eventually, he tried to use skins of wild animals.
One day he saw the birds building their nest, and had the idea too to build a nest as well, but a covered one rather than an uncovered, such as the birds' nests. Being reasonable, he built a house with a roof to protect him, a door to come and go and windows, which served to see what is outside without being forced to get out of his house.
Slowly, summer settled in. All animals ran to find trees and lie under their shadows. Fortunately, man had his house and didn't need a shadow.
Time went by and winter came, along with rain and snow. All animals shivered and cuddled to keep each other warm. But man was staying inside the house and felt no cold at all...until one bitter cold evening, someone knocked at man's door...
"Who's there?" the man wanted to know.
"It's me, the horse!" a voice replied. "Take me with you, man, because I feel so cold ...and I'll work and pay you back."
"If I do so, will you give me ten years of your life?"
"Sure!" the horse promised.
And the man took the horse into his house.
The other night, it was time for the ox to knock at the door.
"Take me in, and I'll work for you!" begged the ox.
" Yes I will, if you give me ten years of your life", the man demanded.
"With all my heart!", the ox replied.
So the man took the ox into the house and the ox worked for him.
The third night the dog came along, shivering.
"Man, take me home with you and I'll work", he said.
"You are not good for work", answered the man. "But I'll take you in to guard my house when I'm away, provided you give me ten years of your life".
"I do, I do!" shouted the dog willingly.
So the man brought the dog in and he was guarded his house faithfully.
This way, the man won thirty more years of life. As soon as he had finished his first forty years, he began to live the years of the horse and acted proudly just like a horse. The ten years of the ox were next, where the man turned out to be heavy and narrow-minded and stubborn as well. The last ten years of life, which were the years of the dog, he became grumpy and angry at the slightest things.
A fable by Aesop