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Aesop and His Fables


He played tricks and pranks on everyone, often by pretending to be ignorant and simple-minded. ... Revenge is a two-edged sword. A man is known by the company ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Aesop and His Fables

Aesop and His Fables
  • The Cultural Legacy of the Storyteller

Was Aesop a real person?
  • We dont think so.
  • It is more likely that his name is applied to an
    entire group of ancient storytellers and their
  • 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?
  • In ancient Mesopotamia clay tablets with proverbs
    and fables, illustrated with animals date back to
    2000 B.C.

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
  • 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?
  • 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
  • That taught them to understand themselves, too.

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?
  • 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?
  • He was aid to have died in Delphi.
  • Aesop was sent by Croesus to give charity to the
  • 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
  • It is said they hurled him from a cliff-top.

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
  • They built a pyramid in his honor

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?
  • 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?
  • 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 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?
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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

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?
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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
  • Take turns reading the fables aloud to your
  • For each fable, write
  • The title
  • The moral and
  • A sentence explaining how the fable shows the
  • Practice reading, and prepare to read out loud
    to the class, one of your fables.

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
  • Put together the best reading performances into a
    touring READERS THEATER performance.

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,
  • 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