Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
462. MERCURY AND THE TWO WOMEN
Perry 534 (Phaedrus
Mercury was once the guest of two women who treated him in a cheap and
tawdry manner. One of these women was the mother of an infant still in
his cradle, while the other woman was a prostitute. In order to return
the women's hospitality as they deserved, Mercury paused on the threshold
of their door as he was leaving and said, 'You are gazing upon a god:
I am prepared to give you right now whatever it is you want.' The mother
beseeched the god to allow her to see her son with a beard as soon as
possible, while the prostitute wanted the power to attract anything she
touched. Mercury flew away and the women went back inside, where they
found the baby with a beard, wailing and screaming. This made the prostitute
laugh so hard that her nose filled with snot (as sometimes happens), but
when she touched her hand to her nose, the nose followed her hand until
it reached all the way down to the floor. In this way the woman who had
laughed at someone else ended up being laughed at herself.
Note: There is a promythium appended to the fable in Perotti's
Appendix: 'Do not ask for more than you deserve.'
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.