Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables: With a Life of Aesop

John E. Keller
L. Clark Keating
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hr8w
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  • Book Info
    Aesop's Fables
    Book Description:

    In 1489 Johan Hurus printed the first collection of fables in Spain,Lavida del Ysopetconsusfabulas hystoriadas. Illustrated with nearly 200 woodcuts, this work quickly became the most-read book in Spain, beloved of both children and adults. Reprinted many times in the next three centuries and carried to the New World, it brought to Spanish letters a cornucopia of Aesopic fables, oriental apologues, and folktales that were borrowed by such writers as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and especially the fabulists Iriarte and Samaniego. John Keller and Clark Keating now present the first English translation of this important literary work.

    The Latin and German lineage ofLa vidawas significant, for it placed Spain in the mainstream of European fable lore. The highly fictitious life of Aesop, the misshapen Greek slave who reached the highest social level, contributed to the development of medieval romance and the picaresque novel. The book is thus important to students of comparative literature, literary history, and the development of the Spanish language.

    Of equal value are the woodcuts, which depict the daily life of medieval Europe and contribute to a better understanding of fifteenth-century art history, bookmaking, natural history, and the visualization of narrative.La vida del Ysopetthus constitutes one of the finest concordances of text and illustration in European literary history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5873-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[xii])
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. [xiii]-[xiv])
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Aesop’s Fables, with a Life of Aesop—in SpanishLa vida del Ysopet con sus fabulas hystoriadas—along with versions with similar titles in many western languages, represents the apogee of that body of stories we know as Aesop’s Fables. This may seem an unusual statement to make, since theYsopet, as we shall term it in this introduction, was not translated into Castilian until the late fifteenth century and not printed in its entirety in Spain until 1489. An incomplete version was printed in Saragossa in 1482 with woodcuts colored by hand. According to Victoria Burrus, who pointed out...

  5. The Life of Aesop
    (pp. 7-51)

    Here begins the life of Aesop, the very distinguished and clever fabulist, taken from the Latin and put into Romance, and plainly and fairly into Spanish. It was translated from Greek into Latin by Remitius for the very reverend master Antonio, Cardenal Titular Head of the order of Saint Chrysostomas. With these were fables which in another time Romulus of Athens, having translated them from Greek into Latin, sent to his son Tiberinus. And accompanying them are fables of Avianus, Doligamus, and Alfonso and others, each fable with its assigned title. They were not rendered word for word, but by...

  6. I. The First Book of Aesop
    (pp. 52-70)

    Romulus to his son Tiberinus, of the city of Attica, best of greetings, etc. Certainly Aesop, a most distinguished and ingenious Greek, with his fables and examples, teaches men what to guard against in their actions, and because he showed plainly the lives of human beings and their customs, he exhibits and uses in his fables and examples birds, beasts, trees, and cattle that speak as each fable requires, so that men may know the reason and mode and origin of his fables. He told them briefly and openly and proposed true things, both good and bad; he wrote entire...

  7. II. The Second Book of Aesop
    (pp. 71-88)

    Each sort of fable is proved against men. For who is good or bad, if not man? It is a great thing to understand the lives of men and their customs, but I have ventured to write similar brief fables, and I shall tell the deeds of the good and the bad, for the former live in safety and have no one to fear. The men of the city of Athens, as they were very good and free men and feared no one, helped each other with a good will. But taking bad advice, they sought for themselves a superior...

  8. III. The Third Book of Aesop
    (pp. 89-107)

    This fable proves that the powerful should be kind to poorer and lesser men, and though a long time may pass they should not forget the kindness they receive from them. A lion, wandering in the woods, lost his way and passed through a thorny area, and a thorn got into his paw which became poisoned and infected. Going through the woods with one lame foot, he happened upon a shepherd. As soon as the lion saw him, he began to coax him by wagging his tail and holding up his paw. The shepherd seeing the lion coming toward him...

  9. IV. The Fourth Book of Aesop
    (pp. 108-124)

    The fox, seeing some bunches of ripe grapes and desiring to eat them, used his imagination and tried all sorts of ways to climb the posts to reach and eat them. But all his thoughts and efforts were in vain and he could not reach them or satisfy his desire. So, turning away in sadness, he spoke as follows: “Those grapes are much too green and sour. Even if I could reach them, I would not eat them, so they are nothing to me.” This fable tells us that it is prudent and wise to pretend to have no desire...

  10. V. The Fanciful Fables of Aesop
    (pp. 125-154)

    There are many who vaingloriously ask endless questions whose answers they do not know, and they want to become masters without first having been disciples, as this fable relates. The mule was grazing near a wood, and a vixen came to him and asked: “Who are you?” He answered: “I am a beast of burden.” The vixen replied: “I did not ask that, but who was your father.” The mule replied: “The horse was my grandfather.” The vixen spoke again: “I did not ask you that, but what is your name?” To which the mule replied: “I certainly do not...

  11. VI. The Fables of Aesop from the Translation of Remitius
    (pp. 155-170)

    The eagle, flying from a lofty crag, swooped down and took a lamb from a flock of sheep, carrying it on high. The crow, seeing this and moved by envy, flew against a lamb with a great racket and crying out, thinking to take and lift the lamb as the eagle had done. And he turned around and struck his claws into the lamb’s wool, so that however much he beat his wings he could not work himself free from the fleece. When the shepherd saw him thus caught in the wool, he ran and caught the crow, and cutting...

  12. VII. The Fables of Avianus
    (pp. 171-197)

    Those who heed women’s words are of times deceived, as you will hear in the following fable. The wolf, pained by hunger, once left his woods seeking food for himself, his wife, and his young. He approached a house as quietly as he could in the hope of getting some meat when he heard the voice of a mother saying to her bitterly weeping son: “If you do not quiet down I will throw you to the mad wolf for him to eat you.” The wolf, believing these words, waited all night in the hope that the woman would give...

  13. VIII. The Collected Fables of Alfonso, of Poggio, and of Others
    (pp. 198-234)

    The wise Lucania* of Arabia said to his son: “You ought not believe that the ant, which stores in summer what it will live on in winter, is wiser than you. Let not the rooster be a better watchman than you, for he keeps guard in the morning while you sleep. Do not let the one who rules nine wives be stronger than you because you cannot rule even one. Do not let the dog, who always remembers the kindnesses he receives, be more noble in heart than you who do not remember. Do not underestimate an enemy, however small...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-235)
  15. Index
    (pp. 237-240)