Perry, Ben Edwin (1892-1968) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Perry, Ben Edwin (1892-1968)

Historical Note:

Ben Edwin Perry (1892-1968) was assistant professor (1924-28); associate professor (1928-41); professor (1941-60); and professor emeritus (1960-68) of classics at the University of Illinois (UI). He was a widely respected classical scholar of fables and the ancient novel, best known for his enduring work, Aesopica (1952).

Perry was born in Fayette, Ohio, on February 21, 1892. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan (1915) as well as a master's degree (1916) and a Ph.D. (1919) from Princeton University for his dissertation, "The Metamorphoses Ascribed to Lucius of Patrae." He held appointments as instructor at Urbana, Ohio, University School (1919­-20); Dartmouth College (1920-22), and Western Reserve University (1922-24). He was hired in 1924 as Assistant Professor of Classics at UI, where he continued his study of Greek and Latin fables and the ancient novel. Perry held the prestigious Sather Professorship as part of the Sather Lecture Series at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1951, which led to his subsequent 1967 publication The Ancient Romances, A Literary-historical Account of Their Origins. His celebrated, definitive work, Aesopica, A Series of Texts Relating to Aesop or Ascribed to Him (1952; colloquially known as the Perry Index), remains the authoritative scholarly reference for all fables attributed to Greek storyteller Aesop (ca. 620-564 BCE). Additional publications by Perry include, Studies in the Text History of the Life and Fables of Aesop (1936) and The Aesopic Fable in the Orient (1944). He also served as associate editor of Classical Philology (1948-51) and held Guggenheim fellowships (1930-31 and 1954-55). He was honored with the Award of Merit from the American Philological Society in 1955.

Perry married Lillian M. Pierce on July 19, 1922. He retired as professor emeritus in 1960 and died on November 1, 1968, in Urbana, Illinois.


"Aesopica," University of Illinois Press, accessed May 20, 2020,

Ben Edwin Perry, The Ancient Romances, A Literary-historical Account of Their Origins (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967). Accessed online May 20, 2020,

"PERRY, Ben Edwin," Database of Classical Scholars, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, accessed May 20, 2020,

Wikipedia, s.v. "Perry Index," accessed May 20, 2020,

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