Fables Along Kings Quai

The sculptor Gra Rueb produced a series of bas-reliefs depicting fables as told by Aesop. They're situated along the Koningskade (the Kings Quay) in The Hague, the Netherlands. However, nowadays they're placed so low along the tramway's platforms that even children, for whom they were intended, have to squat to see and read the accompanying rhymes.

Aesop and Jean de la Fontaine

Legend has is that Aesop, who lived from 620 - 560 BCE, was a slave from Thrace. He became one of Greece's best known poets. Aesop would jot down the animal stories (fables) that were shared by all ancient Indo-European cultures. The Greek Babrius, who lived in the first or second Cent. CE, would rewrite them, and the equally Greek poet Phaedrus (first Cent. CE) would translated them into Latin.
Along came Jean de la Fontaine. Living in the 17th Cent. he was one of France's best known poets. Whenever he couldn't sleep (they say he was an insomniac) he set himself to translating Aesop/Babrius/Phaedrus's fables into French, as friendly little lessons for king Louis the 14th's grandson who would be king himself one day.
De la Fontaine's poems would gain renown throughout the entire French influenced European world. Up until the second half of the 20th Cent. Dutch schoolchildren, at least those from the south, studying the French language had to commit one or two of them to memory.

Part of Buddhist legends

Some three, or perhaps more, of these fables have been incorporated in those Buddhist legends called Jaatakas, Birth Stories. As a rule the Jaatakas are supposed to describe the former lives of the Buddha where he appears in different shapes, now as a man, now as a noble animal, and where he performs outstanding deeds. That's the rule, but there are exceptions where the Buddha tells a story by way of moral lesson, like the ones below. Among the best known Jaatakas are the story of the fox and the crow, or in the Asian version, the jackal and the crow. In the Jaataka the crow, perched on a tree, holds a piece of fruit in its beak. (In De la Fontaine's version he holds a chunk of cheese, stolen in some kitchen - no doubt.) A hungry jackal sits himself under the tree and praises the crow for his outstanding characteristics. "Thank you", says the crow. "Thank you", says the jackal. The story is about the foolishness of vanity.

Then there is the story of the big tree and the reed (the oak and the reed). Whenever there's a gale, says the tree to the reed, you have to bow low, while I'm standing tall. Why don't you come and take shelter at my feet. Just you wait, says the reed: when the wind blows I bow but don't break, whereas you ... After the wind blew, the tree is uprooted, and the reed lifts its head.
This story is about humility.

And there's the famous story about the tortoise and the hare. I don't need to tell you that one, it's about diligence and perseverance. It's hewn out by Gra Rueb on one of those stone slabs along the Koningskade in The Hague.

(The illustration of the oak and the reed is by the hand of Grandville (1803-1847); the sculpture of the tortoise and the hare is Ms. Rueb's (1885-1972).
(see for Aesop http://pages.hotbot.com/und/fablelink/whowasaesop.html)