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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


There was a fisherman who was in the habit of catching his prey on the hook of his fishing line. One time he reeled in the trifling weight of a tiny fish which he had snagged. He lifted the fish up into the air and stabbed it with a piercing wound through its gaping mouth. The fish then burst into tears and pleaded with the man. 'Please spare me,' he said. 'After all, what sort of profit will you get from my body? My fertile mother just now spawned me down in the rocky caves, sending me to play in the waters that are the fishes' domain. Put aside this threat, and allow me my slender young body to grow fat for your table. This same strand of the shore will give me back to you again, and I will voluntarily return to your fishing rod a little while from now, fatter for having fed on the blue waters of the boundless sea.' The fisherman said that it was absolutely forbidden to let a fish go once it had been caught, and he complained that good deeds are often not rewarded when left up to chance. Finally the man concluded, 'It's bad business to ever surrender any possible gain, and even more foolish to start over again in hopes of greater profits.'

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 18: Caxton Avyan 16 [English]
Perry 18: Gibbs (Oxford) 287 [English]
Perry 18: Jacobs 53 [English]
Perry 18: Townsend 128 [English]
Perry 18: Steinhowel Avyan 16 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 18: Babrius 6 [Greek]
Perry 18: Chambry 26 [Greek]
Perry 18: Avianus 20 [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.