Schleicher’s Fable in Prometheus & Alien: Covenant


Avis akvāsas ka.
Avis, jasmin varnā na ā ast, dadarka akvams, tam, vāgham garum vaghantam, tam, bhāram magham, tam, manum āku bharantam. Avis akvabhjams ā vavakat: kard aghnutai mai vidanti manum akvams agantam.Akvāsas ā vavakant: krudhi avai, kard aghnutai vividvant-svas: manus patis varnām avisāms karnauti svabhjam gharmam vastram avibhjams ka varnā na asti.Tat kukruvants avis agram ā bhugat.- Schleicher (1868)

David recites this when doing his Proto Indo-European language lessons.

Here is the translation in English:

The Sheep and the Horses

[On a hill,] a sheep that had no wool saw horses, one of them pulling a heavy wagon, one carrying a big load, and one carrying a man quickly. The sheep said to the horses: “My heart pains me, seeing a man driving horses.” The horses said: “Listen, sheep, our hearts pain us when we see this: a man, the master, makes the wool of the sheep into a warm garment for himself. And the sheep has no wool.” Having heard this, the sheep fled into the plain.

Proto-Indo-European is used in a short dialogue between the human astronauts and an alien “Engineer” in Ridley Scott’s movie Prometheus. In an early scene, the android ‘David’ (played by Michael Fassbender) practices reciting Schleicher’s fable to the interactive computer, in preparation for first contact with the “Engineers”.

Thank you to @ AusKinski on twitter for explaining why this fable ties in with Prometheus & Alien: Covenant:

The story in Schleicher’s Fable also yields some fairly interesting insights with regards to revelations in Covenant. Irrespective of whether the subject matter was taken into consideration as the writers were weaving the thematic tapestry of the story.

In short, the horses in Schleicher’s fable were being used solely to serve man for labor and transport. The sheep commented on the abuse and how demeaning it was for the horses to not live freely. The horses replied that it was equally demeaning to see the sheep exploited in the same way as man exploits them.

In Covenant, David says to Oram “Breathe on the nostrils of a horse and he’ll be yours for life”

To imply a lifetime of servitude/subservience of the backburster creature to bend to his commands. The poem could easily be extrapolated to refer to the Engineers as man and the horses as xenomorphs they controlled, with the sheep as humanity with its wool removed and its usefulness no longer apparent to them except as meat/hosts to be wiped out to begin anew.

gif originally posted by nerorichards


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