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Useful weblinks: Winter is Coming

  • In the earliest versions of this fable, the grasshopper/cricket was actually a ‘cicada’. Since the fable is thought to have originated from the Mediterranean, the cicada was probably a ‘Common Cicada’ (Lyristes plebejus) since these are the most common species there: the males “sing” very loudly (hence why he is often portrayed as a musician below) but the females are silent. Another possibility is that the cicada was a ‘Red Cicada’ (tibicen haematodes), which also appears in the Mediterranean.
  • There are many animations of this fable available, which can add a visual element to exploring the fable with students. Here are a few particularly good examples:
    • This animation is aimed at younger students, with an emphasis on vocabulary learning. It also has a very positive ending!
    • Walt Disney even made a silly song based on this fable (1934)! The grasshopper does learn his lesson at the end, but in a slightly different and gentler way than dying out in the cold.
    • This animation is a little later (1977) and longer (10:32) and is made well. There are a whole group of lazy (and mean!) insects to begin with, but by the end only the grasshopper(s) are foolhardy enough to do no work for winter!
    • A stop-motion animation using hand-crafted insects, this must have taken a lot of hard work to make (perhaps in sympathy with the work-ethic of the ant)!
    • This elegant animation uses a rhyming narration (and it, too, has a happy ending!).
    • A very short animation, this one doesn’t have as positive an ending as many of the above videos do.
    • Here is a fun song based on the fable. And another one: ‘there’s a time to work and a time to play
  • There are also many pictures of the fable. Check out some of the best examples below:
    • Milo Winter (1886-1956) illustrated many of Aesop’s fables. His grasshopper in this illustration carries a fiddle, as in many of the animations above, and it is clear from the grain that the ants are collecting that this is harvest time, before the winter.
    • Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) also illustrated several of Aesop’s fables. Although the ants aren’t safe in an ant-hill in this illustration, it is nevertheless clear that winter has come since the grasshopper is crying and hugging himself for warmth. What the ants say to his request is left up to the viewer to decide!
    • Ernest Griset (1874) created an illustration of this fable. It is unclear whether the setting is meant to be winter with the grasshopper supplicating the ants (his hat is off and his arms outstretched) or whether the ants are just taking a brief break from their work and the grasshopper is asking them why they bother to work at all.
    • This illustration by Gustave Doré of the fable strips away the animals and replaces them with two women: one with a warm house, protecting her children, and the other just holding a guitar, presumably travelling and hoping for hospitality.
  • The moral here is often interpreted as ‘It is best to plan ahead’ or ‘Hard work pays off’. Check out some quotes below:
  • You could try replacing the concept of ‘Winter’ with ‘Exams’!