- File Size: 3827 KB
- Print Length: 264 pages
- Publisher: HarperPerennial Classics (July 29, 2014)
- Publication Date: July 29, 2014
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00L7YHVV4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,290 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Aesop's Fables Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched!” He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” She has a sour-grapes attitude.” They are killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.” He demands the lion’s share.” Don’t be like the boy who called wolf!’” These expressions are so much a part of our everyday language and culture that they seem to have been with us forever, and that is almost the case, for the fables that produced these proverbial sayings are indeed even older than (to name but three) the modern English, French, and German languages where today they are so much at home. The fables behind these sayings are those of arguably the most famous storyteller of all time, the legendary Aesop. Who was the man who created these timeless literary gems?The Man Aesop
Aesop (sometimes spelled Æsop, Æsopus, Esop, Esope, orusing the Greek form of his nameAisopos) has been known in history and in legend since the fifth century b.c., or earlier, as a gifted Greek storyteller and the author of the world’s best-known collection of fables. However, it cannot be proven with any degree of certainty that he existed as a real person. Most modern scholars believe that Aesop was instead a name invented, already in antiquity, to provide attribution for a body of oral tales whose true authors were a number of anonymous storytellers. Martin Luther expressed this view some 500 years ago: Attributing these stories to Aesop is, in my opinion, itself a fiction. Perhaps there has never been on earth a man by the name of Aesop” (quoted in Jacobs, History of the Aesopic Fabl, p. 15; see For Further Reading”).
Although it is possible that there was indeed a gifted Greek storyteller by the name of Aesop, his reputation expanded to legendary proportions in the decades and centuries following his death, and with time many more stories and deeds were credited to him than he could have composed and performed. Supporting this view, many of the earliest references to the stories of Aesop refer to Aesopic (or Aesopian) fables rather than Aesop’s fables. In other words, Aesopic, an adjective, describes a kind of story and a literary tradition but does not claim to identify a specific author.
One thing is certain: Aesop, if he existed at all, did not leave behind a collection of written fables. His reputation is that of an oral storyteller, not an author of written literature. The oldest references to his fables refer to tales memorized and retold, not written and read. For example, from Aristophanes’s comedy Wasps (written in 422 b.c.) we learn that telling anecdotes and comic stories in the style of Aesop was common entertainment at banquets in ancient Athens. More seriously, in 360 b.c. Plato recorded in his dialog Phaedo (section 61b) that Socrates, under sentence of death in prison, diverted himself by reformulating some of Aesop’s fables. Plato’s Phaedo quotes Socrates himself: I took some fables of Aesop, which I had ready at hand and knew, and turned them into verse.” The doomed philosopher did not have a book or manuscript of Aesop’s fables in prison with him, if such a book or manuscript even existed at the time. He knew the fables from memory, as did the partygoers in Aristophanes’s comedy.
The most frequently cited ancient reference to the man Aesop is found in the History of the Greco-Persian Wars written by the Greek historian Herodotus about 425 b.c. Here we learn that Aesop, the fable writer, was a slave of Iadmon, son of Hephaestopolis, a Samian, and that Iadmon’s grandson (also named Iadmon) claimed and received compensation for the murder of Aesop. If this account is true, Aesop would have lived during the sixth century b.c. Apart from this sketchy biography, Herodotus recorded essentially no additional details about the fable writer.
However, later Greek and Roman writers were not so reticent. One body of literature is particularly relevant in this regard. Usually referred to as The Life of Aesop, this work has survived in a number of medieval manuscripts by different anonymous compilers and is based on earlier accounts, now lost. The statements about Aesop’s life history contained in the different versions of this work often contradict one another, or they are so miraculous and fantastic as to be unbelievable by modern standards.
The ultimate source of these accounts is undoubtedly folklore: anonymous legends told and retold by generations of oral storytellers. The Life of Aesop is today generally held to be fiction, but as is the case with many legends, there could be at least a kernel of truth in one or more of the episodes. The following biographical outline has been gleaned from different versions of The Life of Aesop, most prominently the accounts published by Lloyd W. Daly in his Aesop without Morals (pp. 3190) and the Everyman’s Library version of Aesop: Fables (pp. 1745).
Aesop was born a slave, or possibly was captured into slavery at an early age. His birthplace is variously stated as Thrace, Phrygia, Ethiopia, Samos, Athens, or Sardis. He was dark-skinned. In fact, it is said that his name was derived from Aethiop (Ethiopian). He was physically deformed: a hunchback, pot belly, misshapen head, snub nose, and bandy legs are often mentioned. Although in his early years he suffered from a serious speech impediment, oraccording to somethe inability to speak at all, he was cured through the intervention of a deity and became a gifted orator, especially skillful at incorporating fables into his speeches.
As a young man Aesop was transported by a slave trader to Ephesus (in modern Turkey). Because of his grotesque appearance, no one there would buy him, so he was taken to the island of Samos, where he was examined by Xanthus, identified in the manuscripts as an eminent philosopher,” but a person whose existence cannot be verified historically. At first repulsed by Aesop’s appearance, Xanthus changed his mind when the slave proclaimed, A philosopher should value a man for his mind, not for his body.” Impressed with Aesop’s astuteness, Xanthus purchased him as a manservant for his wife.
Aesop soon proved himself to be an irreverent and sarcastic trickster with a clever retort for every occasion. The following episode is typical of many others illustrating how Aesop’s quick wit saved him from punishment, sometimes deserved, sometimes not: Xanthus, wanting to know what fate awaited him on a particular day, sent Aesop to see if any crows were outside the door. According to popular belief, two crows would portend good fortune, whereas a single crow would be an omen of bad luck. Aesop saw a pair of crows and reported this to his master, who then set forth with good cheer. Upon opening the door, Xanthus saw only a single crow, for one of them had flown away, and he angrily turned on his slave for having tricked him into beginning a dangerous venture. You shall be whipped for this!” said Xanthus, and while Aesop was being readied for his punishment a messenger arrived at the door with an invitation for Xanthus to dine with his friends. Your omens have no meaning!” cried Aesop. I saw the auspicious pair of crows, yet I am about to be beaten like a dog, whereas you saw the ominous single crow, and you are about to make merry with your friends.” Perceiving the irony and the wisdom of this observation, Xanthus released Aesop and spared him the threatened punishment.
Aesop’s cleverness extended from word to deed. An unrepentant trickster, his pranks ranged from tricking his fellow slaves into carrying the heavier burdens to seducing his master’s wife with her unwitting husband’s apparent blessing. His tricks often were masked by feigned stupidity on his part, which has led commentators to compare him to the German Till Eulenspiegel and the Turkish Nasreddin Hoca, two of the world’s most rascally but beloved tricksters.
Aesop’s legendary wisdom and shrewdness sometimes moved into the realm of the supernatural. He could solve seemingly impossible riddles and conundrums, foretell the future with uncanny accuracy, and unerringly discover hidden treasures. A master of human psychology, he understood what motivated people to act, and used this knowledge to manipulate them to his advantage. As his life progressed he moved to ever greater venues: from a trickster in a slave’s workroom to a lecturer in a philosopher’s auditorium to a diplomat and councilor in the courts of governors and kings.
With time his cunning, wisdom, and oratory skills brought him freedom from slavery, but in the end they cost him his life. At Delphi the citizens, offended by his lack of respect for their aristocracy and for their principal deity Apollo, planted a golden cup in his baggage, then accused him of temple theft.
Sentenced to die by being thrown over a cliff, Aesop pleaded his case with a series of fables, one of which was the story of The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk” (no. 67 in the present collection). In this tale a frog and a mouse go swimming together in a pool with their feet tied together, but the mouse drowns. The frog, burdened by the dead mouse, is now an easy prey for a hawk, which forthwith captures and devours him.
Aesop compared himself to the mouse and the Delphians to the frog. You may kill me,” he predicted, but my unjust death will bring you great misfortune.” Aesop was executed near Delphi, and his dire prediction came true. Shortly after his death the region was visited with famine, pestilence, and warfare. The Delphians consulted the Oracle of Apollo as to the source of these calamities, and they received the answer that they were to make amends for the unjust death of Aesop. Accordingly they built there a pyramid in his honor.
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1. This book contains only 92 of Aesop's fables. Most other editions have more than 200.
2. Each fable takes up less than a page. About half of them are one paragraph.
3. These are not "translated from Greek" but from public editions that have been paraphrased and in many cases, paraphrased badly.
4. There are only 83 pages not 96. It's a very small, very short book.
5. No dialogue. I have an edition from my youth that has dialogue. Much more fun for kids.
6. Few illustrations. Only about a dozen of the fables have an illustration. The rest are just crammed on the pages together, sometimes three to a page. :(
Because Aesop lived centuries ago and his work is not copyright-protected you will find many really bad copies of Aesop's Fables on Amazon. I thought I'd be safe going with a large publisher, but this was a huge disappointment.
I bought this for my daughter who is 3. She's a bit young to understand the moral lesson of the fables, however this is a nice book to have in a child's library. I have been enjoying reading the fables which I hadn't read since I was a child, as now I am better able to appreciate the morals.
SUGGESTIONS: For the perfect children's literature additions, find a used copy of Udo Weigelt's "The Sandman" (it is sadly out of print), and also get Mary Engelbreit's "Mother Goose". Both of those books are just lovely, absolute musts!
For parents who would like to convert the disc to MP3 files and add the story/track information here is a list of are all the stories on the CD. If you use J. River Media Center the track information has also been uploaded to their servers so it should automatically add it when you rip/convert the CD to MP3 files.
Aesop's Fables for Children CD Tracklist
Track 1: Introduction
Track 2: The Wolf And The Kid
Track 3: The Frog And The Ox
Track 4: The Dog, The Cock And The Fox
Track 5: Belling The Cat
Track 6: Hercules And The Wagoner
Track 7: The Town Mouse And The Country Mouse
Track 8: The Fox And The Grapes
Track 9: The Bundle Of Sticks
Track 10: The Lion And The Mouse
Track 11: The Shepherd Boy And The Wolf
Track 12: The Farmer And The Stork
Track 13: The Travelers And The Purse
Track 14: The Owl And The Grasshopper
Track 15: The Oak And The Reeds
Track 16: The Rat And The Elephant
Track 17: The Crow And The Pitcher
Track 18: The Ants And The Grasshopper
Track 19: The Ass And The Load Of Salt
Track 20: The Ass, The Fox, And The Lion
Track 21: The Fox And The Stork
Track 22: The Wolf And The Lean Dog
Track 23: The Lion And The Ass
Track 24: The Monkey And The Dolphin
Track 25: The Rabbit, The Weasel, And The Cat
Track 26: The Heron
Track 27: The Cock And The Fox
Track 28: The Fox And The Goat
Track 29: The Cat, The Cock, And The Young Mouse
Track 30: The Goose And The Golden Egg
Track 31: The Mouse And The Weasel
Track 32: The Goatherd And The Wild Goats
Track 33: Mercury And The Woodman
Track 34: The Serpent And The Eagle
Track 35: The Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
Track 36: The Dog And His Reflection
Track 37: The Hare And The Tortoise
Track 38: The Fox And The Crow]
Track 39: The Ant And The Dove
Track 40: The Wolf, The Kid, And The Goat
Track 41: The Lion's Share
Track 42: The North Wind And The Sun
J. River Media Center: [...]
Top international reviews
This edition was comprehensive and beautifully illustrated. However, I should have preferred UK rather than US English spelling -- probably unreasonable given that this was a reprint of a Dover Publications original.
The lengths of individual fables facilitate demands for "another story, please" without postponing bedtime too much.
I should say, the prose is wooden and parsed in some cases (eg: the dog and his reflection) to the point of being quite befuddling if you don't already know the story.
If you're happy reading this to your children and embellishing the stories yourself from memory it's a great buy for the pictures, which are charming and full of details, otherwise try another edition.