<< Home Page | Perry Index

Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


An untalented cobbler had gone completely broke, so he set up shop as a doctor in a town where no one knew him. By marketing an 'antidote' with a fictitious name and making all sorts of extravagant claims, the cobbler gained a wide reputation. When the king of the city had grave need of a doctor, he decided to put this man to the test: he called for a goblet, filled it with water and pretended to mix the doctor's antidote together with a fatal poison. The king then ordered the doctor to drink the mixture, offering him a reward if he would do so. The prospect of death scared the cobbler into confessing that he had no knowledge of medicine whatsoever and that he had in fact acquired his fame only thanks to universal gullibility. The king then assembled the people and said to them, 'Are you completely out of your minds? You willingly trusted this man in matters of life and death when he could not even be trusted in matters of boots and shoes!'
I would say this story is well suited to situations in which swindlers take advantage of other people's foolishness.

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 475: Gibbs (Oxford) 588 [English]
Perry 475: Townsend 227 [English]
Perry 475: Phaedrus 1.14 [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.