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

Perry 524 (Phaedrus 5.2)

Two soldiers happened to fall into the clutches of a robber: one of the soldiers ran away while the other stood his ground and defended himself with all the strength he could muster. As soon as the robber had been beaten back, the soldier's cowardly companion ran up, drawing his sword and even throwing aside his cloak as he said 'Let me at him; I will make sure he knows who it is he has dared to attack!' The one who had fought with the robber replied, 'I only wish that you had been here to help me with your words; even if you did nothing more than that, I would have believed what you were saying and would have fought with even greater determination. But please put away your sword and shut your useless mouth: you might be able to fool people who do not know you, but I have learned by experience with what prowess you turn tail and run, and how unreliable your courage really is.'
This tale should be applied to a man who is confident when things are going well but who proves a coward when the outcome is in doubt.

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.