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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


In their groundless favouritism, people often make mistakes; they stand behind a judgment made in error until the actual fact of the matter later compels them to regret their choice.
There was a certain wealthy man, a prominent citizen, who was about to sponsor a public entertainment. He invited anyone who had some novelty to perform, promising to pay them a fee. Professional performers came to compete for public acclaim, and among them was a clown who was well known for his sophisticated sense of humour. He said that he had a type of spectacle that had never been performed in any theatre before. The rumour spread throughout the city, sparking the public's interest. Theatre seats that had recently been left empty were now not enough for the gathering crowd. After the clown came out by himself on the stage, with no equipment and no assistants, a hush of anticipation silenced the spectators. Then the clown suddenly lowered his head towards his chest and imitated the sound of a little pig. The sound was so true to life that the audience maintained that there must be a real little pig concealed under his cloak and they demanded that it be shaken out. But when the cloak was shaken out, it proved to be empty, so they lavished the clown with praise and he left the stage to resounding applause. A country bumpkin saw what had happened and said, 'By gosh, I can do better than that!' He immediately promised that he would do the same thing, only better, the following day. The crowd grew still larger and favouritism had already swayed their perception; you could tell that they had not come to watch the performance so much as to make fun of it. The two men came out onto the stage. The clown squealed as he had done the day before, provoking the audience's applause and shouts of approval. Now it was the turn of the country bumpkin, who pretended to conceal a little pig beneath his clothes -- and this time there really was a hidden pig, although of course the audience had not found anything under the clown's cloak at the previous performance. The man then pulled the ear of the real pig that was hidden in his clothes, producing an authentic squeal of pain. The audience shouted that the clown had given a far more realistic performance and they were prepared to drive the country bumpkin off the stage. But he then pulled the actual pig from inside his cloak and showed it to the audience, denouncing their gross error with incontrovertible evidence. 'Here you go!' he said. 'This little pig proves what kind of judges you are!'

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 527: Gibbs (Oxford) 592 [English]
Perry 527: Jacobs 80 [English]
Perry 527: Townsend 276 [English]
Perry 527: Phaedrus 5.5 [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.