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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


The ant and the fly were bitterly arguing about who was more important. The fly presented her case first. 'Do you really mean to compare yourself to my exalted status? I pass my time among the altars, I wander through the temples of the gods; whenever there is a sacrifice, I am the first to taste all the entrails; I can sit on the head of the king if I want and I enjoy the forbidden kisses of all the married women; I do not work and yet I reap the very best of all the spoils. What has life given you that can compare with all that I have, you country bumpkin!' The ant replied, 'It is truly a wonderful thing to dine at the gods' table, but only for someone whom the gods have invited, not for someone whom they hate. You say that you frequent their altars? Agreed, but you are driven away as soon as you arrive. As for the kings you mention and the women's kisses, you are boasting about something that it is shameful to mention. Moreover, if you do no work then it is no surprise that you have nothing at hand when you need it. I, on the other hand, assiduously gather a store of grain for the winter, while I see you feeding on manure piled up against the walls. Later on, when the cold winds make you shrivel up and die, I am safe and at peace in my well furnished abode. Now that it is summer you try to provoke me, but in winter you have nothing to say. That should be enough to take the edge off your pride.'
This sort of fable shows how to recognize those people who extol themselves for empty deeds and those whose noble qualities are marked by solid accomplishments.

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 521: Caxton 2.17 [English]
Perry 521: Gibbs (Oxford) 198 [English]
Perry 521: L'Estrange 34 [English]
Perry 521: Steinhowel 2.17 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 521: Ademar 27 [Latin]
Perry 521: Odo 75 [Latin]
Perry 521: Phaedrus 4.25 [Latin]
Perry 521: Walter of England 37 [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.