Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
361. THE BLACK MAN IN THE RIVER
Perry 393 (Syntipas
Someone saw a black man from India washing himself in a river and said
to him, 'You better keep still and not stir up the mud in the water, or
you are never going to turn that body of yours white!'
This fable shows that nothing in this world can change its nature.
Note: The Greek word aethiops literally meant 'with a face burnt by
the sun,' and was used to refer to dark-skinned peoples of both India
and Africa. In the Greek prose version (Chambry
11), a man makes his Ethiopian slave sick by trying to wash off
his colour. The paradox of 'washing the Ethiopian' is found in a number
of Greek sources, including the proverb collections (e.g., Apostolius
1.71) and it also appears in the Bible, Jeremiah
13.23: 'Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?'
(The Hebrew text here reads 'Cushite,' although the Septuagint already
reads 'Ethiopian' as does Jerome's Latin Vulgate).
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.