<< Home Page | Perry Index

Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


You might think I am only joking, and it's true that I amuse myself with a light-hearted stroke of the pen, not having anything of real importance on my agenda. Yet you should pay careful attention to these little tales: useful things can come in quite small packages! Appearances can be deceiving: people are often fooled by first impressions, and it takes an exceptional mind to detect something hidden in an unexpected nook or cranny. Still, I've gone on too long without offering any reward to the reader, so I will thrown in a fable for good measure: the story of the weasel and the mice.
A weasel, enfeebled by old age and senility, was no longer able to pursue the swift-footed mice, so she decided to coat herself with flour and lie down nonchalantly in a dark corner of the house. One of the mice thought that she must be something good to eat, but as soon as he pounced, the weasel caught him and consigned him to oblivion; another mouse did the same, and a third mouse likewise met his doom. A few mice later, another mouse arrived: his skin was wrinkled with extreme old age and he had escaped many a time from snares and traps. Already at a distance he recognized the ambush prepared by their cunning enemy. 'You there, lying in the corner,' said the mouse, 'I wish you well if -- and only if -- you really are made of flour!'

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 79, the cat pretends to be a sack in order to trap the chickens but a wise rooster sees through the trick. In Perry 511, a weasel hides herself by rolling flour in order to catch some mice, but an old mouse sees through the trick (L'Estrange tells the story both about a cat and about a weasel).

Perry 511: Caxton 4.2 [English]
Perry 511: Gibbs (Oxford) 298 [English]
Perry 511: L'Estrange 116 [English]
Perry 511: L'Estrange 77 [English]
Perry 511: Townsend 204 [English]
Perry 511: Steinhowel 4.2 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 511: Phaedrus 4.2 [Latin]
Perry 511: Rom. Anglicus 103 [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.