What Is the Moral of the Story "The Ant and the Grasshopper"?

By Kimmy FitchLast Updated May 4, 2021 7:46:59 PM ET
Ant Grasshopper Fable
Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress/read.gov

The moral of the story "The Ant and the Grasshopper" is that it is important to be prepared and work hard in case hard times occur. The story was written by Aesop.

Who Was Aesop & What Are Aesop's Fables?

The story of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" is one of Aesop's Fables. According to some Greek historians, Aesop, the now-famous storyteller and fabulist, was an enslaved person who lived on the island of Samos for many years until he became a free man. Although little is known about him — and although his writings didn't really survive — the fables attributed to him are collectively known as Aesop's Fables

The storyteller's fables often contained animal characters as he knew this would be engaging to children. Most famously, Aesop's Fables all contain morals — or lessons — that children could learn by reading said stories. One of the most famous fables that Aesop wrote was "The Tortoise and the Hare," which illustrates the lesson that "slow and steady wins the race." 

"The Ant and The Grasshopper" Summary

"The Ant and the Grasshopper" tells the story of an ant (or, in some versions, ants), who is busy moving ears of corn around, and a grasshopper (originally, a cicada), who lazes around making music while the ant works tirelessly. In some versions, during the course of the fable, the grasshopper wants the ant to stop working so that they can talk, but the ant insists on finishing his tasks to prepare for winter.

Upset, the grasshopper insists that they have enough food for winter. However, the grasshopper is proven wrong when the cold weather comes. In the end, the musical insect realizes the ant was right about preparing for winter. When the grasshopper realizes they're dying of hunger, they ask the ant for food. But the ant, who can't believe the grasshopper squandered their time making music instead of preparing for winter, tells them to dance the winter away.

"The Ant and The Grasshopper" Theme

While some versions paint the grasshopper as lazy and the ant as practical and mindful, others suggest that the ant lacks generosity of spirit. In some cases, the grasshopper's music, or art, is seen to be just as valuable as the ant's gathering of food. No matter the version, this fable clearly illustrates that there's a time for work and a time for play.

Characters of the Story "The Ant and The Grasshopper"

Since "The Ant and The Grasshopper" is such an enduring tale, there have been many iterations of it. In most versions, the characters include the titular duo, but, in other versions, there are multiple ants, all working tirelessly to prepare for winter, or the grasshopper character is replaced by another musical insect, like a cicada or cricket. Other adaptations add in other animal characters or even replace the main duo with other creatures, like mice. Nonetheless, the main elements of the story — and the fable's theme — remain.