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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


One of Pompey's soldiers was a big, strapping fellow, but he spoke with a falsetto and swung his hips like a lady, which made everyone think he was a fairy. One night he laid an ambush for Pompey's baggage cart, and by leading the mules astray he made off with a great deal of silver and gold and clothing. The story of what the soldier had done quickly spread throughout the camp. Charges were brought and the man was taken off to headquarters where General Pompey asked him, 'What do you have to say for yourself? Were you in fact the man who robbed me, comrade?' The soldier immediately spit into his left hand and then shook the spittle off his fingers as he pronounced the following oath: 'Commander, may my eyeballs dribble out of their sockets just like this spittle if I so much as saw or touched anything that belongs to you.' Pompey, being an unsuspecting sort of person, simply could not believe that this soldier would have had the courage to commit such a crime, and he ordered him to be taken away as a disgrace to the regiment. A short time later, an enemy soldier challenged one of our Roman soldiers to a fight, absolutely confident that he would win. All the Roman soldiers feared for their lives, and the chief officers were muttering about what to do. Then the soldier who looked like a fairy but who had the strength of Mars himself, approached one of the officers seated on the raised platform and said in his quavering voice, 'May I?' Pompey was outraged at this appalling state of affairs and ordered the man to be thrown out, but one of Pompey's old friends spoke to him and said, 'I for one think it is better to put this man to the test, since he is entirely dispensable. That would be better than risking a powerful warrior, whose unfortunate loss would be used as proof of your recklessness.' Pompey agreed and allowed the soldier to accept the challenge. As the army watched in amazement, he cut his opponent's head off faster than you can say 'thwack.' Pompey then said to him, 'Soldier, I gladly award you the victor's crown, since you have avenged the honour of the Roman forces -- but may my eyeballs dribble out of their sockets (and Pompey also repeated the filthy gesture which the soldier had used when he had sworn his oath) if you are not the man who stole my baggage cart the other night!'

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 538: Gibbs (Oxford) 590 [English]
Perry 538: Phaedrus 6.10 [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.