Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
THE WIDOW AND HER LOVER
A woman had lost her beloved husband of many years and had laid his body in
the ground. It was impossible to tear her away from his grave, and she filled
her days with weeping. Everyone repeated glowingly that this woman was an example
of a truly faithful wife. Meanwhile, some men who had pillaged the temple of
Jupiter were condemned to death for their crime against the god. After they
had been crucified, soldiers were stationed by the crosses so that the families
of the executed criminals could not recover their bodies. This all took place
next to the tomb where the woman had secluded herself. One of the guards happened
to be thirsty and asked the woman's maidservant to bring him some water in the
middle of the night. As it happened, the maid had been helping her mistress
prepare for bed, as the widow had maintained her vigil long into the night and
was still sitting up by the light of the lamp. The door was open just a crack
and when the soldier peeped inside, he saw a woman of exceptional beauty. He
was immediately enthralled and inflamed with lust, and an irresistible desire
began gradually to well up inside him. His crafty ingenuity found a thousand
reasons to see the widow again and again. Acquiescing to this regular daily
contact, the widow slowly but surely became more and more inclined towards her
guest, and soon an even closer bond united her heart to his. While the guard
was spending his nights in the widow's embrace, one of the corpses was spirited
away from the cross. The soldier was upset and told the woman what had happened.
That exemplary woman said, 'Don't worry!' and with these words, she handed over
her husband's corpse to be nailed to the cross, so that the soldier would not
be punished for dereliction of duty.
That is how debauchery besieges a bastion of fair repute.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.
There are two fables of "graveyard seduction."
In Perry 388, a man pretends to be lamenting
his dead wife in order to seduce a widow who is mourning her dead
husband; while they are making love, the man's oxen are stolen and
he bursts into tears: "now I really have a reason to weep!"
In Perry 543, "The Widow of Ephesus,"
a soldier who is guarding a criminal's corpse seduces a woman who
is mourning her husband. While they are making love, the criminal's
corpse is stolen away and so they take the widow's husband's body,
and hang it up in place of the stolen corpse.
Perry 543: Caxton 3.9 [English]
Perry 543: Gibbs (Oxford) 577 [English]
Perry 543: Steinhowel 3.9 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim
Perry 543: Phaedrus 6.15 [Latin]
Perry 543: Rom. Anglicus 29 [Latin]
Perry 543: Rom. Nil. (rhythmica) 2.13
Perry 543: Walter of England 48 [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.