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Scattered details of Aesop's life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. An ancient literary work called The Aesop Romance tells an episodic, probably highly fictional version of his life, including the traditional description of him as a strikingly ugly slave (δοῦλος) who by his cleverness acquires freedom and becomes an adviser to kings and city-states. Older spellings of his name have included Esop(e) and Isope. Depictions of Aesop in popular culture over the last 2500 years have included several works of art and his appearance as a character in numerous books, films, plays, and television programs.
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Aesop’s Fables is a collection of stories attributed to Aesop (c. 620-560 BCE), thought to have been a slave in ancient Greece. Aesop’s fables are generally short, feature animals talking and acting like humans, and are instructive, typically ending with a moral lesson.
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Aesop was probably a prisoner of war, sold into slavery in the early sixth century BCE, who represented his masters in court and negotiations and relied on animal stories to put across his key points. Such fables vividly reveal the strange superstitions of ordinary ancient Greeks, how they treated their pets, how they spoilt their sons and even what they kept in their larders. As these stories became well-known, 'Aesopic' one-liners were widely quoted at drinking-parties, and the collection eventually came to include more satirical tales of alien creatures - apes, camels, lions and elephants - which presumably originate in Libya and Egypt.
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 story of the tortoise and the hare, or 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.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
The Reluctant Dragon
My Father's Dragon
The Book of Dragons
Animal Tales & Fables:
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny…
Mother West Wind Series
The Burgess Bird Book for Children
The Burgess Animal Book for Children
The Velveteen Rabbit
Uncle Wiggily's Adventures & Other Tales
Little Bun Rabbit
Mother Goose in Prose
The Jungle Book…
The Story of Doctor Dolittle…
Russian Picture Fables for the Little Ones
The Russian Garland: Folk Tales
Fairy tales & Fantasies:
Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Complete Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm
Complete Fairy Books of Andrew Lang
Five Children and It…
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Collection
At the Back of the North Wind
The Princess and the Goblin
All the Way to Fairyland
Old Peter's Russian Tales
The Secret Garden
A Little Princess
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Anne of Green Gables Collection…
The Wind in the Willows
The Box-Car Children
The Railway Children
The Iliad of Homer
The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Tales of King Arthur and the Round Table
Chaucer for Children
Tales from Shakespeare
The Pilgrim's Progress
Voyage to Lilliput
Little Goody Two-Shoes & Mrs Margery Two-Shoes
Charles Dickens' Children Stories
The Story of Hiawatha
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Of diverse origins, the stories associated with Aesop's name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and include such favorites as The Fox and the Grapes, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Farmer and the Stork, The North Wind and the Sun, The Ant and the Grasshopper and hundreds more.
This new digital edition of The Complete Aesop’s Fables includes an image gallery.
The fables originally belonged to the oral tradition and were not collected for some three centuries after Aesop's death. By that time a variety of other stories, jokes and proverbs were being ascribed to him, although some of that material was from sources earlier than him or came from beyond the Greek cultural sphere. The process of inclusion has continued until the present, with some of the fables unrecorded before the Late Middle Ages and others arriving from outside Europe. The process is continuous and new stories are still being added to the Aesop corpus, even when they are demonstrably more recent work and sometimes from known authors.
Manuscripts in Latin and Greek were important avenues of transmission, although poetical treatments in European vernaculars eventually formed another. On the arrival of printing, collections of Aesop's fables were among the earliest books in a variety of languages. Through the means of later collections, and translations or adaptations of them, Aesop's reputation as a fabulist was transmitted throughout the world.
Initially the fables were addressed to adults and covered religious, social and political themes. They were also put to use as ethical guides and from the Renaissance onwards were particularly used for the education of children. Their ethical dimension was reinforced in the adult world through depiction in sculpture, painting and other illustrative means, as well as adaptation to drama and song. In addition, there have been reinterpretations of the meaning of fables and changes in emphasis over time.