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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


They say that swans sing when they are about to die. A certain man chanced upon a swan that was for sale and bought him, since he had heard that swans sing very beautifully. At the man's next dinner party, he came and got the swan, expecting that the bird would serenade his guests at dinner. The swan, however, was completely silent. Later on, when the swan realized that he was about to die, he began to sing his funeral dirge. When his owner heard him, he said, 'Well, if you are going to sing this song only at the moment of your death, then I was a fool for having commanded you to do it. I should have ordered you to be butchered instead!'
Some people are the same way: they will agree to do things under compulsion that they are not willing to do as a favour.

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.

Perry 233: Gibbs (Oxford) 284 [English]
Perry 233: Chambry 174 [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.