Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
477. THE SICK MAN AND THE GODS
Perry 28 (Chambry
A poor man had fallen sick, so he prayed to the gods and vowed 'If I
recover my health, I will sacrifice a hundred oxen in your honour.' The
gods wanted to test whether the man was telling the truth, so they granted
his prayer and the man recovered from his sickness. When the man was well
again, he did not have any oxen that he could sacrifice, so he made a
hundred oxen out of dough and burned them on the altar, saying, 'O supernatural
beings, behold, I have fulfilled my vow.' The gods wanted to pay him back
for having tricked them, so they stood at the head of his bed in a dream
and said, 'Go to the beach, in such-and-such a place, and you will find
there a hundred talents of gold.' The man woke up, filled with joy, and
went running down to the designated place to look for the gold. When he
got there, he fell into the hands of pirates and was taken captive. The
man pleaded with the pirates and said, 'Just let me go and I will give
you a thousand talents of gold!'
The story shows that the gods hate liars.
Note: In another version of this fable, the man is sold by the pirates
for the same amount of money promised to the man by the gods. These
oxen made out of dough resemble the proverbial 'Locrian bull,' a sacrificial
bull which the Locrians made out of wood and offered in place of a real
one (Erasmus, Adages 2.8.62).
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.