Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
THE PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD
Some men were making their way along the beach and reached a lookout point.
From there, they could see a piece of driftwood floating far off in the distance,
and they thought that it must be an enormous ship. They waited for a long time,
thinking that the ship would put in to shore nearby. As the driftwood was blown
closer to shore by the wind, they kept on waiting, but they no longer thought
it was a great ship as before; they were now expecting some kind of smaller
boat. As it was carried in even closer, they saw that it was just a piece of
driftwood. The men then said to one another, 'How foolish of us! We had high
expectations for something that was actually nothing.'
The same is true of people. Often we are in awe of someone whom we have
never even seen, but when we get to know him, we realize that he is really not
important at all.
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.
Perry 177: Gibbs (Oxford) 279 [English]
Perry 177: L'Estrange 190 [English]
Perry 177: Townsend 123 [English]
Perry 177: Chambry 258 [Greek]
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.