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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 28 (Chambry 55)

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).

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.