Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

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by Aesop
     
 

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'The story goes that a sow who had delivered a whole litter of piglets loudly accosted a lioness. "How many children do you breed?" asked the sow. "I breed only one," said the lioness, "but he is very well bred!"' The fables of Aesop have become one of the most enduring traditions of European culture, ever since they were first written down nearly two millennia ago.…  See more details below

Overview

'The story goes that a sow who had delivered a whole litter of piglets loudly accosted a lioness. "How many children do you breed?" asked the sow. "I breed only one," said the lioness, "but he is very well bred!"' The fables of Aesop have become one of the most enduring traditions of European culture, ever since they were first written down nearly two millennia ago. Aesop was reputedly a tongue-tied slave who miraculously received the power of speech; from his legendary storytelling came the collections of prose and verse fables scattered throughout Greek and Roman literature. First published in English by Caxton in 1484, the fables and their morals continue to charm modern readers: who does not know the stories of the tortoise and the hare, and the boy who cried wolf? This new translation is the first to represent all the main fable collections in ancient Latin and Greek, arranged according to the fables' contents and themes. It includes 600 fables, many of which come from sources never before translated into English.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A host of anthologies gather favorites old and new. In Aesop's Fables, Saviour Pirotta retells eight of the fables in the voice of Aesop himself ("My fables are short and simple. They are mostly about animals and simple country folk"). Richard Johnson illustrates most of the tales with one full-page, full-bleed painting and a smattering of spot art. A dramatic image of the lion caught in the net as the mouse attempts to free him is especially effective. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hague brings his signature nostalgic, intricately detailed style to 13 of Aesop's moral tales. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Classics like "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse," "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Hare and the Tortoise," "The Crow and the Pitcher," and "The Lion and the Mouse" are included in this medley of thirteen of famous tales. Soft, detailed watercolors in muted shades are saturated with details that add to each story. The moral is clearly stated after each fable. The simplicity makes this edition perfect for teaching youngsters the tricks to constructing fables.
Children's Literature
Eight fables are expanded and developed into short stories with settings in Ancient Greece. A fictitious Aesop introduces himself in a conversational tone at the beginning of the book. He continues his chat with the reader as he introduces each of the tales with the description of a possible incident that could have inspired the moral of the story. "The Cat's Bell" features disgruntled mice sharing grievances about the farm cat before they devise a solution that none will put into action. The familiar mouse that saves the lion is given a family of eight children to help chew through the net that encases the lion. A wolf wisely chooses freedom over the possible pleasures of being a pet dog. Of course, the farmer kills the goose that lays golden eggs, thus losing his good fortune. The stork evens the score with the fox when invited to dinner. The tortoise reminds the hare (and the reader) that "Slow and steady wins the race." The foolish frogs discover that they had been much better off without a king. And a jay learns that peacock feathers do not transform him into a fine bird. Colorful, whimsical illustrations depict people and animals in Ancient Greece as gracious and joyful. An engaging introduction to these timeless tales. 2005, Kingfisher, Ages 7 to 11.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-Each of these eight fables is presented in a two-part format. The first part consists of a wordy introduction in which "Aesop" explains the meaning and possible context of the tale and relates it to his own life as a freed Athenian slave. Several of the selections, such as "The Frogs That Wanted a King" and "The Jay and the Peacocks," are not often anthologized. Each telling contains descriptions of the setting, extensive dialogue, and rounded-out motivation. Unfortunately, the resulting long-windedness violates the pithiness of the genre. "The Lion and the Mouse" comes in at over eight pages. The preface makes clear what advice the ensuing selection will impart; the final paragraph of the narrative emphasizes the upcoming lesson, and a neatly framed moral is appended. This triple treatment leaves nothing to chance or children's ability to interpret meaning. However, Johnson's richly toned paintings in a pleasing variety of shapes grace the pages with lively animal and human activity. Three times as many fables in a quarter of the words appear in Ver-nica Uribe's Little Book of Fables (Groundwood, 2004), while Helen Ward's grand retelling of a dozen tales in Unwitting Wisdom (Chronicle, 2004) features more subtly designed illustrations that embellish the stories' content.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "'Laura Gibbs has recently brought out a splendid translation with a very helpful introduction of the bulk of the fables in the Oxford World's Classics.'"—Gabriel Josipovici, TLS

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451529534
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Edition description:
New Introduction
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
89,111
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Aesop, according to legend, was born either in Sardis, on the Greek island of Samos, or in Cotiaeum, the chief city in a province of Phrygia, and lived from about 620 to 560 B.C. Little is known about his life, but Aristotle mentioned his acting as a public defender, and Plutarch numbered him as one of the “Seven Wise Men.” It is generally believed he was a slave, freed by his master because of his wit and wisdom. As a free man, he went to Athens, ruled at that time by the tyrant Peisistratus, an enemy of free speech. As Aesop became famous for his fables, which used animals as a code to tell the truth about political injustice, he incurred the wrath of Peisistratus. Eventually, Aesop was condemned to death for sacrilege and thrown over a cliff. Later, the Athenians erected a statue in his honor. In about 300 B.C., Demetrius Phalereus of Athens made the first known collection of Aesop’s fables, which then spread far beyond the Greek world.

Jack Zipes is a professor of German at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of several books of fairy tales, including Breaking the Magic Spell and Don’t Bet on the Prince. He is also the editor of several volumes of fairy tales, including Beauties, Beasts and Enchantment: Classic French Fairy Tales, The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, The Fairy Tales of Frank Stockton, and Arabian Nights.

Sam Pickering teaches English at the University of Connecticut. He has written seventeen books, fourteen of which are collections of essays. His most recent books are Waltzing the Magpies, an account of a year he and his family spent in Western Australia, and The Best of Pickering, both published by the University of Michigan Press.

A Note on the

Text and Illustrations

This edition of Aesop’s Fables is based on the Reverend Thomas James’s Aesop’s Fables: A New Version, Chiefly from Original Sources (New York: Robert B. Collins, 1848). While adapting this version of the fables, I consulted numerous other nineteenth-century translations and made various changes in keeping with the traditional plots. As has been the custom with translators and adapters of Aesop’s fables, I have taken a good deal of poetic license at times. Since Mr. James’s style is somewhat archaic, I have used a more modern American idiom in adapting them and have occasionally conceived new morals so that the fables might ring more “true” to the situation of the contemporary reader.

The illustrations are from Fables de La Fontaine illustrated by J.J. Grandville (Paris: H. Fournier, 1838). Grandville was a pseudonym for Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard (1803–1847). Born in Nancy, he arrived in Paris during the 1820s and soon made a name for himself as a lithographer and political caricaturist. He was especially interested the theater and animals and was known for incorporating political satire into his complex and fastidious drawings. During the 1830s he turned to book illustration and composed 120 woodcuts for La Fontaine’s fables, which were largely based on Aesop’s work; he caused quite a stir by turning many of the animals into types of human beings. In doing this, Grandville’s figures often appear grotesque and have a surreal quality to them. The distinction between beast and human is blurred, or rather, Grandville’s keen eye captures stunning similarities between humans and animals that often make humans appear in a ridiculous light. In addition, Grandville takes pains to give a clear indication of the social status of the figures through their clothing and behavior to comment on the French mores of his time. There are many emblematic references to urban life in Paris, and in this respect Grandville was one of the first artists to address modern problems of the city and industrialization. Grandville also illustrated the Fables de S. Lavalette (1841) and theFables de Florian (1842), two minor French fabulists, in the same unique manner and is considered one of the greatest interpreters of Aesop’s fables (through La Fontaine) for the modern age.

—J.Z.

Introduction

Little is known about Aesop, except that he lived in Greece, probably between 600 and 500 B.C. Happily for readers, scribblers can rarely resist adorning empty biographies with tales—appropriate in Aesop’s case, since generations have celebrated him as the archetypal storyteller. “What Aesop was by birth,” Nathaniel Crouch wrote in 1737, “authors don’t agree, but that he was of a mean condition, and his person deformed to the highest degree, is what all affirm: he was flat-nos’d, hunch-back’d, bloober-lip’d, jolt-headed: his body crooked all over, big-belly’d, badger-legg’d, and of a swarthy complexion. But the excellency and beauty of his mind made a sufficient atonement for the outward appearance of his person.” Add that he stuttered terribly, quite a handicap for a philosophic raconteur, and Aesop becomes a man delightful to discover on the page, no matter the quality of his mind.

Fictional accounts of Aesop’s life usually relate that he was sold as a slave in Ephesus. Later, in Samos, he behaved like Solomon, his wisdom reconciling the irreconcilable. After accusing magistrates at Delos of tomfoolery and corruption, however, he met a stony end. A gold cup pilfered from the shrine to the Oracle having been planted in his baggage, he was convicted of sacrilege and tossed “head-long from a high rock.” The moral being, I suppose, the wages of tale-telling will out.

In the literary underworld, lie and truth twine fruitfully together through generations, spawning page after page. Crouch lifted his life from the introduction of Roger L’Estrange’s famous collection of some five hundred fables published in 1692. In his collection published in 1722, Samuel Croxall took L’Estrange to task, declaring, “There were never so many blunders and childish dreams mixt up together, as are to be met with in the short compass of that piece.” Knowing “the little trifling circumstances” of Aesop’s life, Croxall said, was insignificant, “whether he was a slave or a freeman, whether handsome or ugly. He has left us a legacy in his writings that will preserve his memory clean and perpetual among us.”

Croxall also got matters wrong. Aesop told but did not write down fables. Much as The Thousand and One Nightsis a miscellany of stories drawn from diverse cultures stretching from Egypt to China, so the origins of Aesop’s fables are various, all editions being mongrel blends of tales taken from countries around the Mediterranean and to the east.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Jonathan Kent's reading revives the original oral tradition, and his voices for the animal characters make the little stories entertaining as well as enlightening." —-AudioFile

Meet the Author

Laura Gibbs completed her M.Phil. in European Literature at St Antony's College, Oxford and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. She has also studied and taught at the Centre for the Study of Anthropology and the Ancient World at the University of Siena in Italy. She is currently employed as a specialist in academic computing at the University of Oklahoma where she is developing Latin and Greek teaching tools for use on the Internet.

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Aesop's Fables(Classic illustrations) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 498 reviews.
IkaIka More than 1 year ago
What can one say about all the wonderful tells of this book. You can entertain yourself for days!
Ymn Nasser More than 1 year ago
Google 'gutenburg free ebooks'. This book of stories is great and no longer under copyright law so it's ( along with a lot if other classics) actually free to download instantly thru your nook or pc to nook via the mentioned website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love him he is a wonderful writer my youngest child in middle school is learning about him so i wanted to read her/him his fables yaayaaaayayyyayay they are so happy with the fable they love them i would recomend them to middle schoolers to learn!!!!!!!!!! :) :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every story in this book has a moral. 'Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child.' It means instead of hitting the child let them get in trouble and realize what they did wrong. Also i thought it would have a good impact on children and parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The is an excellent book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My childhood memories are few and far betwen but I specifically remember Aesop's Fables. A wonderful tale ever child should have a chance to read at an early age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For kids undr ten. Good to read in bed or snuggled up with a blanket on a rainy day! Your reader Abby
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It teaches us some very good morals,"honesty is very important", is just one of the many morals Aesop wrote. I LOVE THE BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it had a lot of good details & I like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's ok but they said a bad word for the donkeys in one of te stories not my 100% favorites but ...... well ..... it's ok
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Asops fables are very sweet because my favorite is the lion and the mouse
Anonymous 8 days ago
Its so fun to read. I love the literature that was given.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Please freind me.And i love asop fables so fun to read
Anonymous 9 months ago
WOW!This is so amazing! I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Just got to the resort in wyoming! BEST XMAS EVER!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sighs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Where am I?" Max quitly wispered to her self. She stood up her long black hair in a tangled mess. As she looked aroud she saw Jamie. Why is he here? she thought. Max is not mad that he is here just confused. Why the new kid? She kept thinking. As he walks toward her ahe feels like she gonna pass out. She jolts awaking sitting up and feeling dizzy. What going she thinks and lays back down and falls asleep. Hi my name is Hope please if you read this and want more leave a review tittled with my named
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reviews are here so people can see how the book. If you do not have anything to say about the book do not put a review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You there
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He walked around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Nice to see your face for once" he said
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tehya~ im soory guys idk when im getting my nook bk.... btw... has anyone seen Pi or Justin... Justins ben gone since the 16th and Pi.... his names just.... gone... im worried about him... this is our only way to talk and i cant lose him... if anyone sees him please post at 'pissed' res one. its the book tht says pissed hag tales... please help....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glistening not listening
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Is this the right place...?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hi" he smiled at the beatiful dragon.