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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:


The wolves sent messengers to the sheep, offering to swear a sacred oath of everlasting peace if the sheep would just agree to hand over the dogs for punishment. It was all because of the dogs, said the wolves, that the sheep and the wolves were at war with one another. The flock of sheep, those foolish creatures who bleat at everything, were ready to send the dogs away but there was an old ram among them whose deep fleece shivered and stood on end. 'What kind of negotiation is this!' he exclaimed. 'How can I hope to survive in your company unless we have guards? Even now, with the dogs keeping watch, I cannot graze in safety.'

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.

In Babrius, a wise old ram warns the sheep about the danger of betraying the dogs to the wolves.

In Ademar, there is no wise ram, and the sheep are slaughtered by the wolves.

Chambry has both versions, with the ram, and without.

The Romulus tradition features a complex story of negotiations and hostages, with the dogs as hostages for the sheep and the wolf cubs as hostages for the wolves. Unbeknownst to the sheep, the wolves kill the dogs. Then the wolf cubs start to howl, and on this pretext the wolves kill all the sheep as well. There is a confused and delightful version of this in Caxton where the older wolves seem ready to keep peace with the sheep, but it is the young wolves who launch the attack: "all of one accord and wylle sayd to theyre Auncestres and faders / we must ete vp alle the sheep / And theyr faders ansuerd thus to them / we haue maade pees with them / Neuertheles the yonge wolues brake the pees and ranne fyersly vpon the sheep / and theyr faders wente after them."

Perry 153: Caxton 3.13 [English]
Perry 153: Gibbs (Oxford) 32 [English]
Perry 153: Gibbs (Oxford) 31 [English]
Perry 153: L'Estrange 43 [English]
Perry 153: Townsend 64 [English]
Perry 153: Steinhowel 3.13 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 153: Aphthonius 21 [Greek]
Perry 153: Babrius 93 [Greek]
Perry 153: Chambry 217 [Greek]
Perry 153: Chambry 218 [Greek]
Perry 153: Ademar 43 [Latin]
Perry 153: Rom. Anglicus 31 [Latin]
Perry 153: Rom. Nil. (metrica) 30 [Latin]
Perry 153: Rom. Nil. (rhythmica) 2.15 [Latin]
Perry 153: Walter of England 52 [Latin]

You can find a compilation of Perry's index to the Aesopica in the gigantic appendix to his edition of Babrius and Phaedrus for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1965). This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the Aesopic fable tradition. Invaluable.