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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 169 (Babrius 131)

There was a young man who had lost all his possessions while gambling. He had only one piece of clothing left to keep him warm until the end of winter (although a throw of the dice was going to take this away from him too). Spring had not yet arrived but a swallow had already appeared, having left her home down in Thebes out of season. When the young man heard the tiny chirping of the swallow, he said, 'What do I need all this clothing for? That swallow means spring is just around the corner.' The man then went and joined another game. After just a few rolls of the dice, he lost his only cloak. A snowstorm blew up, accompanied by enough hail to make a body shiver, so that everyone needed an extra layer of clothing. The young man, now naked, peeped out of the doorway and saw the chattering swallow once again, lying dead on the ground like a little sparrow stricken by the cold. 'You miserable creature,' he said, 'I wish I had never laid eyes on you! You deceived yourself, and me as well.'

Note: This fable is based on the Greek proverb 'one swallow does not make a spring' (see, for example, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1098a), much like the English proverb 'one swallow does not make a summer.' The Thebes referred to here is the ancient capital of the Egyptian empire.

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.