An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds is the first English verse translation of the Greek satirical poem Diegesis Paidiophrastos ton Zoon ton Tetrapodon. Written by an anonymous author in fourteenth-century Byzantium, this vernacular allegorical poem has long been recognized as a unique document, one that appears to have originated independently of comparable works in other traditions. A medieval Animal Farm, the story describes a convention of animals in which each beast vaunts its uses to humanity while denigrating others, resulting in a cataclysmic battle. The authors provide extensive textual analysis and notes on the form, style, and context of the poem.
About the Author
Nick Nicholas is a research fellow in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a contributor to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae project at the University of California, Irvine.George Baloglou is an associate professor of mathematics at the State University of New York, Oswego.
What People are Saying About This
A significant contribution to the study of vernacular Greek literature and the evolution of Greek language. Meticulously researched, it will intrigue philologists without alienating the general reader.
The "Entertaining Tale" is an engaging, high-spirited fable in a genre that runs from Aesop to Orwell's "Animal Farm" and the musical "The Lion King". All the animals come together to debate their merits in a state of truce; but just like humans and human kingdoms, all they can do is boast and hurl insults at each other, until the truce is dissolved and the beasts revert to nature. The "Tale" carries an unexpected sting: in the final battle, it is the peace-loving tame animals that win out. A political moral here? Perhaps.The editors, Nick Nicholas and George Baloglou, have done a wonderful job. From contrasting backgrounds, and based on different continents, they have been brought together in what amounts to a stupendous labour of love. The "Tale" is presented (bravely, but with good justification) translated into fluent English blank verse, with the original Greek text alongside. The introduction and commentary cover everything that the specialist longs to see covered adequately in a text of this sort, while being at the same time fully accessible and informative to the layman. Indeed, after the heroic epic of Digenes Akrites, this is the only text in medieval vernacular Greek to benefit from a scholarly bilingual edition to date. The publishers are to be congratulated for taking it on. It deserves a wide readership, as well as the gratitude of specialists.
This is a splendid translation of a neglected text, which constitutes an important addition to our knowledge of vernacular Greek literature of the late Byzantine period. But it is also a highly amusing and genuinely 'entertaining' piece of medieval literature about animals, their characters and contests, ending in a great battle between the herbivores and the carnivores. Since so little of this type of writing is available for non-Greek readers... this translation will introduce a whole field of literature to medievalists in general.
The commentary fulfills the desire of the poem's prologuethat this fable will 'draw out and stir up learning.' Readers who study the decline of empire, while they attend to the voice of the weak in their confrontations with coercive power, will hear in this astute work a reminder that 'God shares power out'even if his creatures think otherwise. By recalling the wonder that was Byzantium, this book is playful reading for any turbulent time preoccupied with 'what is past, or passing or to come.'