Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
587. THE DOCTOR AND HIS DEAD PATIENT
Perry 317 (Babrius
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
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.
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.