How Many Fables Are There?

4 April 2011

Most people can likely name a dozen or so of Aesop’s fables off the tops of their heads. There are the popular ones everyone knows, like The Fox and the Grapes, and lesser-known ones like The Dog and Its Reflection (that one is on our list to make soon!) and sort of weird ones like The Mountain in Labour.

But how many are there total?

The answer is sort of tricky, since most modern scholars believe that Aesop did not personally come up with all the tales attributed to him. In fact, many of the fables were known in some form before Aesop’s time (around 600 BC), so it’s hard to know for sure which ones Aesop came up with himself.

However, professor Ben Perry, who studied Aesop, created an index of fables that has become the “definitive edition of all fables reputed to be by Aesop” (from Wikipedia). Can you guess the number of fables in The Perry Index?

Take a second and think of all the fables you can count, and come up with a number. The answer is below (highlight to reveal)

584 fables!

Did you guess it? Did you come close? I sure didn’t!

There are even more fables in “Extended Perry” lists, and several fables not in the Perry Index at all.  The total that Wikipedia lists: 731 (highlight to reveal)

That’s a LOT of fables!

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