"My usual company was an edition of Aesop'
and, perhaps my favorite, Bulfinch'
Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and
storyteller rumored to have lived in ancient Greece between 6th century
The Fables, from the
became the foundation of Greek culture.
The Aesopica is similar
to Grimm' Tales and a
Thousand and One Nights as each is
a collection of tales the
common people know and relate.
Buddhists use chants;
Hindus use mantra;
The Septuagint is
a collection of tales of
events in the history of tribes of
It is unlikely the ugly storytelling slave Aesop actually
collected the tales.
Aesop may have been a
Celtic Bard enlisted by his
master to entertain.
The Fables contain tales of camels, elephants and
apes signifying the fact that many narratives must have originated in North
Africa or the Levant.
Tales recognizable as Fables survive on
clay tablets written in
Aesop's Fables continue to be revised and
translated through the ensuing centuries, with the addition of material from
other cultures, so the Fables today bear little relation to those originally
Aseop unifies the collection and becomes the
Axis Mundi of the Fables
in a similar manner as Pythagoras is central to the
It happened that a
Plebian was sowing hemp
seed in a field where a Swallow and some blackbirds were hopping about
"Beware of that man," warn the Swallow.
what is he doing?" question the blackbirds.
"That is hemp seed he is
sowing; be careful to pick up everyone of the seeds, or else you will be
The blackbirds paid no heed to the words of the
Overtime the hemp grew up and was made into cord.
The cord was woven into nets and many a
blackbird that had ignored the advice of the Swallow was caught in nets made
out of hemp.
THE LION AND THE IDOL
A Patrician and a lion were debating the relative strength
of men and lions.
The Patrician contended that he and his countrymen
were stronger than lions by reason of
"Come now with me," the Patrician begged, "I will
soon prove I am right."
So the Patrician took the Lion into the
public gardens and showed him a statue
of Hercules overcoming a
Lion and tearing the mouth of the Lion in two.
idol means nothing.
Man made the idol," retorted
A Wolf found
great difficulty in getting at
the sheep owing to the
vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs.
But one day it found the
skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so
it put it on over its own pelt
and strolled down among the sheep.
The lamb that belonged to the
sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing,
began to follow the Wolf in the
Sheep's clothing; so, leading the lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal
of her, and for some time he succeeded
in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.
BELLING THE CAT The mice had a general
council to consider what
measures they could
take to outwit the Cat.
Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up
and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case.
"You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the
sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could
receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I
venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a
ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should
always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the
This proposal met with general applause, until an old
mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the
looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:
" "There are two ways to be fooled: one is to
believe what isn't true,
the other is to refuse to believe what is true." -
THE FOOL AND THE COUNTRYMAN
At a country fair there was a fool who made
all the people laugh by imitating the cries of various animals.
finished off by squeaking so like a pig that the spectators thought that he had
a porker concealed about him.
But a farmer who stood by said: "Call
that a pig's squeak. Nothing like it. Tomorrow I will show you what it's
The audience laughed, but
next day, sure enough, the farmer
appeared on the stage, and putting his head down squealed so hideously that
the spectators, hissed and threw stones at him to make him stop.
fools" he cried, "see what you have been hissing," and held up a little pig
whose ear he had been pinching to make him utter the
THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
In a field, one fine summer day,
a Grasshopper was hopping
about, chirping, singing and munching to his heart's content.
Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil a kernel of rye.
eat the rye then come and
dance and sing with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling that
"I am helping to lay up seed for
the winter," said the
Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."
"Why worry about winter?" said the
Grasshopper; "there is plenty of seed."
The Ant went on its way and
continued its toil.
When the winter
came the Grasshopper had no seed, and found itself dying of hunger, while
it saw the ants distributing rye seeds every day from the stash they had
collected in the summer.
A PLEBIAN, AN
OXEN AND THE
Plebian came to a
Patrician, expressing great concern for an accident which, he said, had just
your oxen," continued he, "has been gored by an unlucky bull of mine, and I
should be glad to know how I am to make you reparation."
"Thou art a very honest fellow," replied the
Patrician, "and wilt not think it unreasonable that I expect one of thy oxen in
"It is no
more than justice," quoth the Plebian, "to be sure; but what did I say - a
mistake - it is your bull that
has killed one of my oxen."
"Indeed," said the Patrician, "that
alters the case; I must inquire into the affair, and if - ,"
said the Plebian - "The business, I find, would have been concluded without an
if had you been as ready to do
justice to others as to exact it from them."
Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and
According to an ancient legend,
the first man was made by Jupiter, the first bull by Neptune, and the first
house by Minerva.
On the completion of their labors, a dispute arose as
to which had made the most perfect work.
They agreed to appoint Momus
as judge, and to abide by his decision.
Momus, however, being very
envious of the handicraft of each, found fault with all.
blamed the work of Neptune because he had not made the horns of the bull below
his eyes, so he might better see where to strike.
He then condemned the
work of Jupiter, because he had not placed the heart of man on the outside,
that everyone might read evil thoughts and take precautions against the
And, lastly, he inveighed against Minerva because
she had not contrived iron wheels in the foundation of her house, so its
inhabitants might more easily remove if a neighbor proved
Jupiter, indignant at such inveterate faultfinding, drove
him from his office of judge, and expelled him from the mansions of
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