Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
THE SNAKE AND THE FARMER
In the house of a certain farmer there lived a snake who regularly came to the
table and was fed on scraps of food. Not long afterwards the farmer grew rich,
but then he became angry at the snake and tried to attack him with an axe. The
farmer then lost his wealth and he realized that he had prospered because of
the good luck he had gained from the snake before having wounded him. The farmer
then begged the snake to forgive him for his evil deed, and the snake replied,
'You are sorry for what you have done, but you must not expect me to be your
faithful friend until this scar heals. It is not possible for me to be truly
reconciled to you until all thought of that treacherous axe has left my mind.'
The person who injures anyone at any time must be treated with suspicion,
which is a serious obstacle to the restoration of affection among friends.
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.
|The Greek tradition represented by Perry 51
is clearly a story that has suffered some confusing loss in content:
a snake bites a farmer's son (the reason for this attack is not explained),
and the farmer strikes the snake. The farmer later attempts to make
his peace with the snake (the reason again is not explained), but
the snake says that they can never forget their former grievances.
In Perry 573, the story begins with the snake
bestowing wealth on the man, but the man decides to kill the snake
in case the snake might withdraw his favors. The snake survives the
attack and kills the man's son in revenge. The man then wants to make
peace with the snake but the snake replies as in the other story,
that there can never be trust between them again. In an ancient
Indian folktale, the snake bestows wealth on the man, but the
greedy son attempts to get all the wealth at once, which is why the
snake kills the boy; the father then attacks the snake in anger, and
is rebuffed by the snake when he attempts a reconciliation.
Perry 573: Caxton 2.10 [English]
Perry 573: Gibbs (Oxford) 74 [English]
Perry 573: Steinhowel 2.10 [Latin, illustrated] Mannheim
Perry 573: Ademar 65 [Latin]
Perry 573: Rom. Anglicus 115 [Latin]
Perry 573: Walter of England 30 [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.