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The King's Quest to Find a Wise Judge

Once a king decided to identify the best judge with a question. Four judges from all over the country were chosen to answer the king's question. The one who could give the best answer was going to work in the royal court.

"This is the question: Once a master ordered his servant to buy a tub full of milk to serve some guests. The servant bought the milk, put the tub on his head and headed home. While he was walking home, some poison accidentally dropped down into the tub from a snake that was hunted by an eagle up in the sky. The master's guests drank the poisonous milk and died. Now tell me who is guilty and why?"

The king asked his question. "The servant is guilty because she had to cover the tub." The first judge said. The king didn't accept the answer because it was not fair to punish a servant for a rare accident. In addition, there was no rule to cover a tub.

"No one is to blame. It is an accident. Everyone dies one way or another. This is fate." The second judge said. The king rejected his answer because a judge was supposed to bring justice not to succumb to fate.

"The master is to blame because he had to check the milk before it was served to the guests." The third judge said. But, the king didn't like his judgment because the master wasn't suspicious of anyone. In addition, no rule obligated a host to check his food in advance.

"I need more explanation to solve this case." The fourth judge said. "If the snake has dropped its poison into the milk and no one has noticed it, how is it possible that the guests' death has been referred to this accident? I should ask questions from all people involved to see who has said the snake incident first." He explained more.

The king felt satisfied with the answer and chose him as the judge in the royal court. "A good judge should not jump to a decision. He should take everything into consideration first." The king told the other judges.


This is an anecdote from the Sindbadnameh by Zahiri-Samarqandi.

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