Works "It Makes A Difference Whose Ox Is Gored"
by Martin Luther

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"It Makes A Difference Whose Ox Is Gored"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This short anecdote of a rural quarrel resembles the medieval exempla, a humble illustration by the clergy for a universal truth scaled to a peasant audience. No doubt the origin of the moral is a rearrangement or corruption of the Aesop fable concerning the goring of the ox by the goats. In this story the ox runs away from a lion into the cave of goats who butt him mercilessly without arousing his ire: "I wouldn't suffer your goring if it weren't for him outside," said the ox. The moral is a little different, suggesting it makes a difference who gores the ox. The actual moral is not in Luther, though it is implied, but it comes much later in Noah Webster's American Spelling Book, the story of the lawyer, the farmer, and the farmer's ox. Luther, however, tells the story of Herr Schultes' cow that gored Rochbarin's, sixty groschen being set as damage. Herr Schultes refused to pay on the basis that when many cows are in a pasture, who knows which did the damage? The moral has since come as,

"It makes a difference whose ox is gored."