Monday, November 7, 2011

The Frogs Who Desired a King

While doing research for my biography of Major General C. F. Smith, I came across a reference to the fable of King Log and King Stork.  Smith refers to this moral tale in regard to his promotion to command the Camp Floyd post in Utah in 1859.

Seeking to understand the reference, I Googled the phrase and came up with the Wikipedia link The Frogs Who Desired a King.  With election day approaching, I found the many interpretations of this fable quite timely.
A tile design by William de Morgan, 1872
The story concerns a group of frogs who called on the great god Zeus to send them a king. He threw down a log, which fell in their pond with a loud splash and terrified them. Eventually one of the frogs peeped above the water and, seeing that it was no longer moving, soon all hopped upon it and made fun of their king. Then the frogs made a second request for a real king and were sent a water snake, later changed to a stork, that started eating them. Once more the frogs appealed to Zeus, but this time he replied that they must face the consequences of their request.

The fable is a political lesson. Initially it was that people feel the need of laws but are impatient of personal restraint. Later the lesson was that the people are uneasy without a ruler, but they are never satisfied with either situation. Another view was expressed by Martin Luther when he alludes to this fable to illustrate how humanity deserves the rulers it gets: "frogs must have their storks."

Do we get the government we desire or the government we deserve or Luther observed is the lack of good rulers a punishment for human wickedness.

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