The discussion at the manor this past weekend centered around the
phrase "a wolf in sheep's clothing". You know the kind of individual
I'm talking about. They portray themselves to be a kind, honest
person, even hiding behind a strict set of morals, yet in reality are
totally the opposite.
As usual, it made me wonder about the etymology behind the phrase.
Did you know it all started as one of the fables of Aesop? According to
the fable, a hungry wolf found a sheep's fleece lying on the ground in a
field. The wolf realized that if it wore the fleece, it would look like a
sheep from a distance. He could steal a lamb for supper without the
So, the wolf put on the fleece, and went off in search of a flock of
sheep. Just as it was about to pounce on a lamb, a shepherd came
by, looking for a sheep to slaughter for supper. Thinking the
disguised wolf was a sheep, the shepherd quickly grabbed and
killed the wolf.
The intended lesson was this: "Frauds and liars are always
discovered, eventually, and pay for their actions accordingly." The
moral is sometimes also told as, "The evil doer often comes to harm
through his own deceit".
The King James Version of the Bible, written in 1611 gives this
warning, in Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, which come to
you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. But
Aesop is given original credit, since he wrote it sometime in the
620-560 BC range.
Today, in English, "a wolf in sheep's clothing" has become a common
metaphor for any hidden danger or for any enemy putting on a false
display of friendship.
On a lighter note, remember The Big Bad Wolf used this disguise
tactic in Disney's Three Little Pigs, in an attempt to fool Fifer and