Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
THE MONKEY AND THE LION'S BREATH
When the lion made himself king of the beasts, he wanted to be known for his
fairness, so he gave up his old habits and contented himself with a limited
diet just as the other animals did, committed to dispensing justice with complete
honesty. As time went by, however, the lion's resolution began to waver. Since
he was not able to alter his natural inclinations, he began to take certain
animals aside in private and ask them whether or not his breath smelled bad.
It was a clever strategy: the animals who said that it smelled bad and the animals
who said it did not were all killed just the same and the lion was thus able
to satisfy his appetite. After he had slaughtered a number of the animals in
this way, the lion turned to the monkey and asked how his breath smelled. The
monkey exclaimed that the lion's breath smelled of cinnamon, as if it were the
very altar of the gods. The lion was ashamed to slaughter someone who said such
nice things, so he changed his tactics and fooled the monkey with a newly devised
stratagem. The lion pretended that he was sick. The doctors came right away,
of course, and when they checked the lion's veins and found that his pulse was
normal, they ordered him to eat some food that would be light on his stomach,
thus alleviating his nausea. 'Kings may eat what they like,' admitted the lion.
'And I've never tried monkey meat... I would like to have a taste of that.'
No sooner said than done: the obsequious monkey was quickly killed so that the
lion could eat him immediately.
The penalty for speaking and for keeping silent is one and the same.
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 514: Caxton 3.20 [English]
Perry 514: Gibbs (Oxford) 16 [English]
Perry 514: Steinhowel 3.20 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim
Perry 514: Ademar 49 [Latin]
Perry 514: Phaedrus 4.14 [Latin]
Perry 514: Rom. Anglicus 77 [Latin]
Perry 514: Rom. Nil. (metrica) 34 [Latin]
Perry 514: Rom. Nil. (rhythmica) 2.20
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.