The Belly and the Other Members

The Belly and the Other Members

"The Belly and the Other Members", sometimes called "The Belly and the Members", is considered the world's oldest body-state metaphor. Written by Aesop, the short, simple fable describes a revolt of the body's parts against the stomach, as the stomach gets all of the food. After refusing to supply the stomach with nourishment, the "other members" realize they, too, are weakened. They realize that the stomach provides valuable hard work in its own way, and for their own good. The moral of the story is that the hard work and contributions of others are not always immediately recognizable as such, and that one part's suffering can result in the suffering of the whole.

The Apostle Paul of Tarsus, educated in both Hebrew and Hellenic thought, updated it when he wrote a letter to friends in Corinth (1 Cor. 12:12-26). It was also updated by Shakespeare in Act 1 of his play, "Coriolanus." Many versions of it are found all over the world, some furthering the metaphor from the body to the state.


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