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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

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


Some birds who had flocked together saw a man sowing flax seed but they thought nothing of it. The swallow, however, understood what this meant. She called an assembly of the birds and explained that this was an altogether dangerous situation, but the other birds just laughed at her. When the flax seed sprouted, the swallow warned the birds again, 'This is something dangerous; let's go and pull it up. If it is allowed to grow, people will make it into nets and we will not able to escape the traps that they devise.' The birds mocked the swallow's words and scorned her advice. So the swallow went to the people and began to make her nest only under the roofs of their houses. Meanwhile, the other birds refused to heed the swallow's warnings, so now they are constantly being trapped in nets and snares.

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.

In Perry 437, the owl warns the birds about various dangers: birdlime, flax, and archery, but the birds ignore the owl every time; later they repent and worship the owl, but the owl refuses to give them any more advice. In Perry 39, the swallow realizes that the mistletoe is dangerous and warns the other birds, who ignore her advice so the swallow leaves the birds and comes to live among people. (Perry 277 is a dialogue between the nightingale and the swallow, which is explains why the swallow dwells with people.)

Perry 39: Caxton 1.20 [English]
Perry 39: Gibbs (Oxford) 487 [English]
Perry 39: Jacobs 12 [English]
Perry 39: L'Estrange 17 [English]
Perry 39: Steinhowel 1.20 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim University Library
Perry 39: Chambry 349 [Greek]
Perry 39: Ademar 20 [Latin]
Perry 39: Rom. Anglicus 18 [Latin]
Perry 39: Rom. Nil. (metrica) 16 [Latin]
Perry 39: Rom. Nil. (rhythmica) 1.18 [Latin]
Perry 39: Walter of England 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.