Kids Coяner!
Alex Peak

The Vain Jackdaw

By Æsop

The Jackdaw was unsatisfied with his simple yet elegant set of shiny black feathers.  He looked upon the other Birds and, seeing their various colours, became more and more envious of them, never appreciating what he himself had.  It got so that the Jackdaw quickly succumbed to an inferiority complex.

“Who do these other Birds think they are,” the Jackdaw said to himself, “strutting around in their colourful plumage?  They’re nothing!”  His lack of self-worth became so overwhelming that, one day, he decides he should be King of the Birds, and rule over them.  “They think they’re so high and mighty, they need to be put in their place!”

And thus the Jackdaw, fancying himself wise, went about clothing himself with old odd ends collected from the woods and fields, predominantly the gaudiest of the feathers that had fall’n from the wings of his companions.  He fastened these upon his body, and when he presently determined that he looked gayer than any other Bird of the forrest, he assembled the other Birds in order that he may demand their servitude and obedience.

When the birds saw the Jackdaw clad with their discarded feathers, they were at first content to let him be, despite recognising clearly the Jackdaw beneath his disguise, for they had no desire to dictate to the Jackdaw how to dress or to live.  But then the Jackdaw announced to the congregation his intention that they recognise him as their new sovereign.  “On what grounds do you propose the right to rule over us?” asked the other Birds to the Jackdaw.  “Why, my feathered finery!” replied the Jackdaw to the Birds.

The other Birds, seeing no reason to surrender their liberty, set themselves immediately upon the Jackdaw and stripped him of his borrowed plumes, leaving the Jackdaw exposed and ashamed at his arrogance.


The moral of this story is that neither beauty nor wit confers a right to rule.

In other words, people may tell themselves that they have some sort of right to control other people or the property that these other people have because they themselves are smarter, or prettier, or stronger than the people they wish to control, but none of these things make the controls moral or fair.

Click here to return to the Kids Coяner.