The Wiser Adviser to the King
An Old Irish Tale
I first told this story on the Fort Collins community radio, KFCR.
Click to download: 77_TheWiserAdviser.pdf
An ancient king of a province in Ireland had two trusted advisers. The king counted on the two of them whenever he faced a difficult decision. The made the two advisers powerful men, since they could influence the fate of the kingdom.
The advisers were Ruaidrí (Rory) and Angus. Recently, though, the king tended to follow the advice of Rory and ignore the advice of Angus. This made Angus extremely jealous, he being a person easily made jealous. But Angus was not only jealous, he was ambitious. He thought that if he could get rid of, or at least discredit, Rory, than Angus would be the number one adviser to the king and the second most powerful person in the kingdom.
So Angus hatched a plot, which he implemented the next time the king called upon him and Rory to lend advice. This took place at a banquet filled with dozens of important clan chiefs within the kingdom. The clan chiefs were debating an important issue facing the kingdom, and the king was called upon to make a decision.
The king asked his advisers, “What do my most trusted advisers think?”
Before Rory could answer, Angus shouted out: “I think you should listen to my advice, and not that of Rory. I can prove to you, before all of the clan chiefs, that I am the better adviser.”
The king then asked, “How do you propose to do that?”
Angus replied: “I challenge Rory to answer three of my questions. I guarantee that he cannot.”
“This might be interesting”, said the king. “Please proceed to ask your questions three.”
So Angus then asked Rory: “How many stars are there in the sky?”
Rory replied: “Bring me a sheep.”
Someone brought a sheep into the banquet.
Rory then said: “There are as many stars in the sky as there are hairs on this sheep. You may count them if you wish to verify my answer.”
The king laughed, and said: “I think your answer is sufficient. Angus, ask your second question."
Angus then said: “Here is my second question. Where is the center of the earth?”
Rory said: “The answer is quite simple.”
Rory pulled his sword and carved a line on the floor of the banquet hall.
He then said: “This line is the center of the earth. Half of the earth is on one side of the line, and half is on the other.”
Go to The Wiser Adviser to the King page 2