The Frethoni Book of Fables   
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Introduction. Fable No. 113, ca. 280 b.S. "The Four Suitors" is a fable about a competition between four noblemen trying to win the heart of the King's daughter, who is about to be married to provide the kingdom with a son and heir. Three of the men demonstrate incredible abilities, leaving the forth desperate that he won't be able to compete with them at all. But just a little piece of advice might change the favour of the princess instantly...

t one time, an aging King petitioned all the eligible men to compete to marry his daughter, so that she might have a son and heir. Of course, the daughter was very beautiful, and all men hoped to win her heart. The judging was to be determined by the daughter, and four nobles, each with their own accompaniment, discussed this on one day.

The first said, “I am invincible with my spear, and I will win any match of combat… Her hand is as good as mine.” If as to prove a point, he drove his spear completely through a solid stone. He would win any match of combat.

The second said, “It shall not be combat, but skill with the word that shall rule this tournament.” With that, he began to quote famous poetry, even stringing the best of verses to come up with a poem that could bring tears to even a demon’s eye.

The third said, “You are both wrong. It is neither combat nor tongue, but agility that shall impress and achieve victory. I myself can dodge blows from five men for an hour.” He had done this before, and it was known to be true.

The fourth remained quiet, trying to think of what he could do to top each of the other suitors. He looked for advice among the villagers, and he was referred to the Old Man. The Old Man, who was gifted with sense, greeted the suitor and asked his dilemma.

“Good Sir,” the suitor addressed him with respect, “I wish to marry the King’s daughter, but how am I to prove myself against the other suitors? One can drive a spear through stone, another writes beautiful poetry, and the third is as swift as the wind itself.”

“There is an answer,” the Old Man spoke, “and it is a simple one. Go to the daughter and give her a gift. There may be men who could do greater things than you, but you shall be victorious with your well-mannered demeanor. Remember the words of this old man. Some things are well-recognized, but none more so than a lack of manners.”

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