Battle of the Books

Write an analysis of the fable of the spider and the bee in Swift’s The Battle of the Books. What does the insect stand for?

The Battle of the Books is a simple mock-heroic story of a battle among the books reposing in the King’s Library at St. James’s palace. The battle itself is a satirical allegory on an intellectual debate that had been raging in England, sometimes called Battle of the Ancients and the Moderns. In theory, this debate concerned the relative value of the intellectual accomplishments of the antiquity, as compared to the advancement that had been made in many fields of human knowledge since the Renaissance.
The Battle of the Books has become a term for the quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. Here there is a battle fought in a library when various books come alive and attempt to settle the arguments between moderns and ancients. The battle is not only between the ancient and modern writers, but also between authors and critics. The author skilfully manages to avoid saying which way victory fell. Here in the pamphlet we cannot see which side the author takes. And also Swift does not show us how the battle ends, because there is no real answer to this question.
Here in the Battle of the Books we are told the fable of the Bee and the Spider. A bee had become entangled in a spider’s web. The two insects start a quarrel and Aesop was called in as arbitrator. The bee, who is representing the ancients, went straight to nature gathering his support from the flowers of the fields and the gardens, without any damage to them. The spider, like the moderns, boasted of not being obliged to any other creature, but drawing and spinning out all from himself. The Moderns, says Swift, produced nothing” but wrangling and satire, much of the nature of the spider’s poison”. The Ancients, ranging through every corner of nature, had produced honey and wax and furnished mankind with “the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light”.   The spider claims...