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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


An earthworm saw a snake stretched out and envied his length. The earthworm wanted to be as long as that snake, so he lay down beside the snake and tried to extend himself. The worm stretched and stretched until he accidentally split into pieces.
This is what happens to someone who competes with his superiors: he destroys himself before he can equal them.

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 Perry 268, the earthworm envies the snake and stretches out to equal the snake in length until it bursts into pieces. In Perry 371, the same story is told about a lizard trying to equal the length of a snake. The most famous fable of this type is the Perry 376 the frog who tried to puff herself up until she would be as large as a bull.

Perry 268: Gibbs (Oxford) 348 [English]
Perry 268: Chambry 33 [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.