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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


No one is sufficiently well armed against the high and the mighty, and if there is a malicious advisor involved as well, then whoever falls victim to their criminal forces will be destroyed.
An eagle carried a tortoise high up into the air but the tortoise's flesh was hidden inside a home of horn, tucked away safely inside so no harm could come to it. A crow then arrived on the scene and as she winged her way past the eagle she said, 'Well now, you have grasped an excellent prize in your talons, but unless I show you what to do with it, its weight will exhaust you to no avail.' When the eagle promised to share with the crow, the crow advised her to drop the hard shell from the starry heights down onto the rocks. After the shell had been shattered, the tortoise's meat would be easily consumed. The eagle was persuaded by the crow's clever counsel and carried out the plan, generously sharing the feast with her teacher. Thus even something protected by a gift of nature was no match for these two, and the tortoise died a pitiful death.

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 230, the turtle asks the eagle to carry him into the air; the eagle carries the turtle up, but then drops the turtle onto the rocks. In some stories, it seems that the turtle was just being foolish and is punished for foolishness (Chambry, Odo); in other stories (Babrius, Avianus), it seems like the turtle may have promised to pay the eagle, and the eagle drops the turtle when no reward is forthcoming. In Perry 490, the eagle has a turtle but doesn't know how to get the meat out of the shell. The crow advises the eagle to drop the turtle on a rock. In some versions (Phaedrus), the crow and the eagle share the feast; in other versions (Romulus Anglicus), the crow waits by the rocks and steals the turtle so that the eagle is left with nothing. In some medieval versions, the turtle becomes a mere shell (concha) so that Caxton ends up with a story about a "nutte."

Perry 490: Caxton 1.14 [English]
Perry 490: Gibbs (Oxford) 112 [English]
Perry 490: Gibbs (Oxford) 111 [English]
Perry 490: Jacobs 47 [English]
Perry 490: L'Estrange 12 [English]
Perry 490: Steinhowel 1.14 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 490: Phaedrus 2.6 [Latin]
Perry 490: Rom. Anglicus 13 [Latin]
Perry 490: Rom. Nil. (metrica) 11 [Latin]
Perry 490: Rom. Nil. (rhythmica) 1.13 [Latin]
Perry 490: Walter of England 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.