Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
THE SNAKE AND THE CRAB
A snake and a crab had become friends and were living together. The crab had
a straightforward character and he urged the snake to change his wicked ways
but the snake refused to follow the crab's good advice. So the crab kept an
eye on the snake and when he found him sleeping he grabbed the snake by the
neck and squeezed him to death between his claws. As he was dying, the snake
stretched out straight. The crab then remarked, 'Hey, if you had been this straightforward
to begin with, I would not have had to punish you for your crooked behaviour!'
This fable shows that people who treat their friends deceitfully end up
hurting themselves instead.
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.
Perry 196 is a rather odd
little story about the friendship between the snake and the crab:
the crab resents the snake for having a "crooked" character,
and when the crab kills the snake, the snake stretches out straight
whereupon the crab exclaims, "if only you had been straight
in life, I wouldn't have had to kill you." In Perry
322, the crab's mother is telling her son to walk straight,
and her son asks her to please set him a good example.
Perry 196: Gibbs (Oxford) 141 [English]
Perry 196: L'Estrange 154 [English]
Perry 196: Chambry 290 [Greek]
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.