The Destruction of Tyre, by John Martin, 1840. © Toledo Museum of Art, purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey.

Fear

Volume X, Number 3 | summer 2017

Miscellany

Eighth-century Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa recorded a parable describing human existence. A man, fearing an elephant, dangles himself into a pit to hide but soon realizes a dragon waits at the bottom and rats are gnawing at the branches he’s holding on to. He then notices a beehive, tastes its honey, and becomes “diverted, unaware, preoccupied with that sweetness.” While he’s distracted, the rats finish gnawing the branches, and the man falls into the dragon’s mouth.

An ugly sight, a man who’s afraid. 

—Jean Anouilh, 1944