Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
586. THE DOCTOR AT THE FUNERAL
Perry 114 (Chambry
As a doctor was following the funeral cortege of one of his relatives,
he remarked to the mourners in the procession that the man would not have
died if he had stopped drinking wine and used an enema. Someone in the
crowd then said to the doctor, 'Hey! This is hardly the time to offer
such advice, when it can't do him any good. You should have given him
the advice when he still could have used it!'
The fable shows that friends should offer their help when there is
need of it, and not play the wise man after the fact.
Note: Compare the Latin joke in Propertius,
Elegies 2.14: 'medicine is now being administered to the ashes'
(i.e. after the cremation of the body). Compare also the English proverb,
'after death, the doctor' (e.g., Shakespeare,
Henry VIII 3.2.41: 'he brings his physic after the patient's death').
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.