Perry's Index to the Aesopica
Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:
THE EARTHWORM AND THE SNAKE
An earthworm saw a snake stretched out and envied his length. The earthworm
wanted to be as long as that snake, so he lay down beside the snake and tried
to extend himself. The worm stretched and stretched until he accidentally split
This is what happens to someone who competes with his superiors: he destroys
himself before he can equal them.
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.
In Perry 268, the earthworm
envies the snake and stretches out to equal the snake in length
until it bursts into pieces. In Perry 371,
the same story is told about a lizard trying to equal the length
of a snake. The most famous fable of this type is the Perry
376 the frog who tried to puff herself up until she would be
as large as a bull.
Perry 268: Gibbs (Oxford) 348 [English]
Perry 268: Chambry 33 [Greek]
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.