Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
555. AESOP AND HIS LAMP
Perry 510 (Phaedrus
Once when Aesop happened to be the only slave in his master's household,
he was ordered to prepare dinner earlier than usual. He thus had to visit
a few houses looking for fire, until at last he found a place where he
could light his lamp. Since his search had taken him out of his way along
a winding path, he decided to shorten his journey on the way back and
go straight through the forum. There amidst the crowds a talkative fellow
shouted at him, 'Aesop, what's with the lamp in the middle of the day?'
'I'm just looking to see if I can find a real man,' said Aesop, as he
quickly made his way back home. If that public nuisance had bothered to
give this any thought, he would immediately have understood that as far
as old Aesop was concerned, he was not a man at all, but only a pest who
was bothering someone who had better things to do.
Note: This appears to be a variation on the famous anecdote of Diogenes
the Cynic looking for an honest man, as reported in Diogenes Laertius,
Life of Diogenes 41. The same story is attributed to an anonymous 'Christian
ascetic' in Rumi,
Mathnawi 5.2887 ff.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.