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Aesop and His Fables. The Cultural Legacy of the Storyteller. Was Aesop a real person?. We don’t think so. It is more likely that his name is applied to an entire group of ancient storytellers and their lives. The stories were not written down until centuries after they were first told.

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aesop and his fables

Aesop and His Fables

The Cultural Legacy of the Storyteller

was aesop a real person
Was Aesop a real person?
  • We don’t think so.
  • It is more likely that his name is applied to an entire group of ancient storytellers and their lives.
  • The stories were not written down until centuries after they were first told.
  • His personal history may be a legend that blends the lifestyle and work of all the ancient storytellers into one person.
how old are fables
How old are fables?
  • In ancient Mesopotamia clay tablets with proverbs and fables, illustrated with animals date back to 2000 B.C.
what is the story of aesop
What is the story of Aesop?
  • He was born a slave in 620 B.C. , possibly in Asia Minor or Ethiopia.
  • He was taken by a slave trader to what is now Turkey.
  • He was said to be so horribly ugly, no one would buy him.
  • He was then taken to the island of Samos where the philosopher, Xanthus, bought him as a servant for his wife.
what was aesop like
What was Aesop like?
  • Clever
    • He could solve all manner of riddles.
    • He played tricks and pranks on everyone, often by pretending to be ignorant and simple-minded.
    • He had no respect for the upper classes who put on airs nor for their favored god, Apollo.
  • Wise
    • He understood what made people tick and he could capture their imaginations when telling his stories.
    • That taught them to understand themselves, too.
sold to iadmon
Sold to Iadmon
  • He is said to have been sold to Iadmon.
  • Perhaps he played too many tricks on Xanthus and his wife.
  • Around 560 B.C., Iadmon gave him his freedom because of his great gifts as a storyteller.
messenger to a king
Messenger to a king?
  • It is said that he served as an emissary to the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia for whom he traveled on missions all across Greece.
  • Croesus was so wealthy that we still describe someone with a lot of money and possessions as being as “rich as Croesus”.
how did he die
How did he die?
  • He was aid to have died in Delphi.
    • Aesop was sent by Croesus to give charity to the citizens.
    • Aesop was disgusted by their greed and refused to distribute the money.
    • He was sentenced to death for his disrespect to the Delphians and the god, Apollo.
    • His dying words were a prophesy of doom for Delphi.
    • It is said they hurled him from a cliff-top.
how did he become a legend
How did he become a legend?
  • It is said that after they killed Aesop, the people of Delphi were beset with famine, disease and warfare
  • The oracle of Apollo blamed the unjust death of Aesop for their troubles and ordered them to make amends
  • They built a pyramid in his honor
why were the stories so popular
Why were the stories so popular?
  • The stories were really good observations of human nature.
  • The stories could be used to teach the values of the community.
  • The stories could be used to teach people how they should act.
  • The stories could be used to teach people what to be careful of and avoid.
when were the fables actually written down
When were the fables actually written down?
  • First compiled in Greece around 300 B.C., the original no longer exists.
  • The oldest surviving collection was recorded in Rome in Latin iambic verse by Phaedrus during the first century A.D.
what is iambic verse
What is iambic verse?
  • A “foot” is the basic rhythmical unit of a verse line; in an iambic line, this unit consists of a metrically unaccented syllable followed by a metrically accented one.
  •  This verse is in iambic dimeter (di means two). There are two feet in each line.
    • Who knows his will?Who knows what moodHis hours fulfil?His griefs conclude? (J.V. Cunningham, “Meditation on a Memoir,” 1-4)
the stories lived on in greece and rome
The stories lived on in Greece and Rome
  • The oldest surviving Greek collection was authored by Babrius in second century A.D.
  • Roman poet Horace first recorded one of the most famous fables attributed to Aesop.
    • The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
  • In about 400 B.C. Flavius Avianus collected 42 of the fables.
    • They were very popular in medieval Europe.
    • They were often used as a school text.
where else in the world were fables told
Where else in the world were fables told?
  • India and the Orient
    • The Panchatantra collection of five books of animal fables and magic tales dates to between the third and fifth centuries.
    • The Jataka fables are part of sacred Buddhist literature, telling about the lives, sometimes as an animal and sometimes as a human, of Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha.
where else in the world were fables told15
Where else in the world were fables told?
  • Mesopotamia
    • An empire that stretched from Egypt to Iran
  • Persia and Arabia
    • The 1001 Nights
      • Also known as The Arabian Nights Entertainment
      • Dates back 1000 years
      • Influenced literature of Europe
on to the middle ages
On to the Middle Ages
  • Der Edelstein, printed in 1461 was a collection of fables compiled by a Dominican monk.
    • It is reputed to be the first book published in German.
  • Many Medieval authors wrote stories in the style of Aesop.
  • The fables and magic stories influenced folktales and fairytales of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
what is a fable
What is a Fable?
  • It is a story that:
    • is short;
    • often uses animals or objects as actors;
      • Called allegory, these animals and objects represent ideas
        • In The Fox and the Grapes, the grapes represent any unattainable goal
    • and, illustrates a moral lesson or teaches a truth about human behavior.
what moral lessons are found in the fables
What moral lessons are found in the fables?
  • Look for these lessons in the fables you are about to read:
    • Slow and steady wins the race.
    • Pride comes before a fall.
    • Revenge is a two-edged sword.
    • A man is known by the company he keeps.
more morals
More Morals
  • Think twice before you act.
  • Be content with your lot.
  • When you hit back make sure you have got the right man.
  • Once bitten, twice shy
  • Quality, not quantity.
more and more morals
More and more morals
  • Out of the frying pan into the fire
  • One good turn deserves another.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
and the moral is
And the moral is...
  • Look before you leap.
  • Example is better than precept.
  • What is worth most is often valued least.
  • A hypocrite deceives no one but himself.
  • Heaven helps those who help themselves.
lets explore the fables
Lets Explore the Fables
  • Take turns reading the fables aloud to your partner.
  • For each fable, write:
    • The title;
    • The moral; and
    • A sentence explaining how the fable shows the moral.
  • Practice reading, and prepare to read out loud to the class, one of your fables.
part two
Part Two...
  • Choose the moral you think is the most important.
  • Write an original fable to show that moral.
  • Draw or create a collage to illustrate your fable or moral.
  • Practice reading, and prepare to read out loud to the class, your original fable.
a final performance
A Final Performance
  • Put together the best reading performances into a touring READERS THEATER performance.
how do i know all this stuff about fables
How do I know all this stuff about fables?
  • My source for these slides and for the fables you are going to read is the book was:
    • Aesops Fables, published by Barnes and Nobles, 2003
      • Derived from V.S.Vernon Jones edition published by W. Heinemann in 1912
    • I relied substantially on the Introduction and Notes by D.L. Ashliman.
    • My example of iambic verse came from
    • Timothy Steele - Introduction to Meter