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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


Since the owl was a wise bird, she advised the other birds when the first oak tree sprouted that they should not allow it to grow. If they didn't uproot the tree at all costs, it would produce an inescapable substance, birdlime, that would bring about their death and destruction. Later on, when the people began to sow flaw, the owl told the birds that they should pluck out the flax seed, since it was also going to wreak havoc on the birds. The third time the owl saw a man with a bow and she said that the man would overtake them with their own feathers: although the man walked on foot he would be able to launch arrows with wings. Each time the birds refused to heed the owl's advice. They acted as if she were crazy and said she was out of her mind. As things turned out, the birds discovered, much to their surprise, that the owl had been right all along. Therefore, whenever any other bird encounters the owl, they now treat her with reverence, as if she were an expert in everything. But the owl does not give them advice any more; she only complains.

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 437, the owl warns the birds about various dangers: birdlime, flax, and archery, but the birds ignore the owl every time; later they repent and worship the owl, but the owl refuses to give them any more advice. In Perry 39, the swallow realizes that the mistletoe is dangerous and warns the other birds, who ignore her advice so the swallow leaves the birds and comes to live among people. (Perry 277 is a dialogue between the nightingale and the swallow, which is explains why the swallow dwells with people.)

Perry 437: Gibbs (Oxford) 488 [English]
Perry 437: Townsend 242 [English]

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.