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

Perry 317 (Babrius 75)

There was once a doctor who knew nothing about medicine. So when everyone was telling a certain sick man, 'Don't give up, you will get well; your illness is the sort that lasts for a while, but then you will feel better,' this doctor marched in and declared, 'I'm not going to play games with you or tell you lies: you need to take care of all your affairs because you are going to die. You cannot expect to live past tomorrow.' Having said this, the doctor did not even bother to come back again. After a while the patient recovered from his illness and ventured out of doors, although he was still quite pale and not yet steady on his feet. When the doctor ran into the patient, he greeted him, and asked him how all the people down in Hades were doing. The patient said, 'They are taking it easy, drinking the waters of Lethe. But Persephone and the mighty god Pluto were just now threatening terrible things against all the doctors, since they keep the sick people from dying. Every single doctor was denounced, and they were ready to put you at the top of the list. This scared me, so I immediately stepped forward and grasped their royal sceptres as I solemnly swore that since you are not really a doctor at all, the accusation was ridiculous!'

Note: In Greek mythology, Hades is the land of the dead, on the other side of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness; Pluto is the king of Hades and Persephone is queen.

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.