<< Home Page | Perry Index

Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


The bees had built their honeycombs up high in an oak tree but the lazy drones insisted that the honeycombs were theirs. The case went to court, with the wasp presiding. Given that the judge was well acquainted with both the bees and the drones, she made the following proposal to the two parties: 'Your bodies are not dissimilar and your colouring is the same, which makes this an undeniably difficult decision. Of course, I want to be absolutely scrupulous, avoiding any hasty judgments. So, please take these hives and fill them full of waxen cells. The taste of the honey and the shape of the combs will reveal which party is actually responsible for the honeycombs in question.' While the drones refused to comply with this request, the proposal greatly pleased the bees. Thereupon the judge pronounced the following sentence: 'It's clear who was incapable of making those honeycombs, and who it was that made them. Accordingly, I return to the bees the fruit of their labours.'
I would not have included this fable except for the fact that the drones refused the chance to prove their credibility.

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 504: Gibbs (Oxford) 178 [English]
Perry 504: Phaedrus 3.13 [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.