The Scorpion and the Frog
The Scorpion and the Frog is an animal fable about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. The fable is used to illustrate the position that the natural behaviour of some creatures is inevitable, no matter how they are treated and no matter what the consequences.
Variations commonly include a farmer, youth, turtle, or fox in place of the frog, and a snake in place of the scorpion. The Farmer and the Viper is a specific variant which can be attributed to Aesop. There is also a variation in which the final words of the scorpion are "It is better we should both perish than that my enemy should live."
The author is unknown, and variations of the fable appear in West African[not in citation given] and European folktales. The story is often identified with Aesop's Fables, although only variants appear therein. A study published in a German journal in 2011 points out a connection between the genesis of the fable and the tradition of the Panchatantra, a collection of animal fables dating back to India in the 3rd century BCE. Whereas the original Sanskrit work and its early translations do not contain any fable resembling The Scorpion and the Frog, an earlier version of it, The Scorpion and the Turtle, is to be found as an interpolated fable in post-Islamic variants of the Panchatantra. The study suggests that the interpolation occurred between the 12th and 13th century in the Persian language area and offers a constructive frame of orientation for further research on the question of the fable's origin.
The image of a scorpion carried across a river by a frog occurs much earlier, in the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) (5th century CE, based on earlier stories), though with a different outcome and purpose: the scorpion crosses the river and stings a man, killing him. This illustrates a scorpion, who cannot swim, being carried across to fulfill God's will. The Lady Frog and the Scorpion states it is a classic Nigerian folktale from Kogi, Nigeria.
In popular culture
- The Mars Volta singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala alludes to the fable in the song "Agadez" on their fourth album, The Bedlam in Goliath.
- "The Snake" (b/w "Getting Ready for Tomorrow") by Al Wilson (singer) (1968)
- The Matches' song "To Build A Mountain", on their album A Band In Hope (2008), refers to this story.
- This fable is also the subject of the song "The Scorpion" by the band Megadeth on the album The System has Failed, which describes the actions and behaviours of antisocial personality disorder.
- This story is also the inspiration for the song "Scorpion Frog" by the Israeli band Infected Mushroom.
- The Italian band 883 published a song inspired by this fable, entitled La rana e lo scorpione, on the album Grazie mille.
- Scottish progressive rocker Fish bases the song "Manchmal", from the album 13th Star, on this fable.
- William Galison retells the story in a song titled "Shoulda Known" on the album Got You on My Mind. Carly Simon cameos on the track delivering the line, "It's my nature; that's what scorpions do."
- The title character of Mr. Arkadin tells the story at his party.
- The fable is also told in The Crying Game.
- In Natural Born Killers the Navajo shaman tells a version of "The Farmer and the Viper".
- In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, The Old Man mentions the story to Il Duce before the final battle scene.
- In Drive's extended version, the Driver asks Bernie Rose if he's heard of the story, as the protagonist has a scorpion on the back of his jacket.
In the Devils' Carnival, one of the segments is similar to The scorpion and the Frog
- Roger Corman's TV Movie of 1995 titled Black Scorpion features the fable as a pivotal part of the main character's development.
- Smallville episode "Prodigal": Lionel Luthor talks with Lex Luthor about the fable.
- The Sopranos episode "Bust Out": Tony Soprano references the fable.
- Star Trek: Voyager episode "Scorpion": Commander Chakotay tells the story.
- Gilmore Girls episode "New and Improved Lorelai": Lorelai Gilmore recites the story to her parents.
- Robot Chicken episode "Unionizing Our Labor" includes a parody skit in which the frog becomes angry and shoots the scorpion.
- How I Met Your Mother episode 'Scorpion and the Toad' they visit a bar of the same name in reference to the storyline.
- The Good Wife episode 'Hi' Cary and Alicia in discussing their situation reference the story. Alicia says people use the Scorpion and the Frog to excuse behaviours.
- Teen Wolf episode 'Visionary' Deaton asks Deucalion and Talia if they’ve heard the story
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Burked" : at the end of the episode Walt Braun tells the story to Gil Grissom.
- Scorpion's Kiss. Peter Molloy. iUniverse 2001. pg. 174
- The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural conspiracy. XLibris. 2004.
- Way of the Scorpion: Legend of the Five Rings. John Wick. pg. 19.
- The Lady Frog and the Scorpion. The Phantom Publisher. Phantom House Books. Jan. 2010.
- DC Universe Online features a variant of the fable told by The Joker. The frog is replaced by a bat in this version.
- World of Warcraft contains a book in which players can read the fable of The Saurok and the Jinyu
- Monaco: What's Yours is Mine contains a mission specifically named "The Scorpion And The Frog", along with some uses of scorpion throughout as a term of endearment.
- "The Scorpion and the Fox". 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "better we should both perish". 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- Livraghi, Giancarlo (2009). "The Scorpion and The Frog". The Power of the Stupidity (Pescara, Italy: M&A). ISBN 978-88-89479-15-5. Retrieved 2010-08-01 (author's footnote). "Its origins seem unknown. There are no traces, in any tradition, that lead back to Aesop. No indications that it ever existed in Greek or Latin. It’s around in several languages. It seems to have started in English, somewhat earlier than fifty years ago. But it may have an older origin in African folklore – the tale of a “generous” frog on the shore of the Niger river."
- "The Farmer and the Viper". Hausa tales and traditions: an English translation of 'Tatsuniyoyi no Hausa'. p. 416. Retrieved 2010-08-01 Retrieved via Google Books.
- "Aesops Fables: The Farmer and the Viper (Aesop, Arthur Rackham)". Folklore and Myth. p. 121. Retrieved 2010-08-01 Retrieved via Google Books.
- "Aesops Fables (Myth-Folklore Online)". Folklore and Myth. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- Takeda, Arata (2011). ”Blumenreiche Handelswege: Ost-westliche Streifzüge auf den Spuren der Fabel Der Skorpion und der Frosch”. Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp. 124–152.
- Takeda (2011), pp. 140–142.
- Takeda (2011), p. 142.
- Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli), Women (Seder Nashim), Vows (Nedarim), Chapter IV, p. 41, "Samuel saw a scorpion borne by a frog across a river, and then stung a man, so that he died." Note: "Though a scorpion cannot swim, he was carried across by the frog, in order to fulfil God's judgment."
- The Lady Frog and the Scorpion. The Phantom Publisher. Phantom House Books. January 2010.
- Folktales from around the world
- Folklore Society
- "Folklore". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Folklore". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Anthology of some of the oldest oral folk tales
- Nigerian folktales on Facebook