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Friday, May 08, 2015

Aesop's Fables (?) by Aesop

Book Review
Aesop's Fables (?)
by Aesop
Free Librivox Audio Book

  The 1001 Books project has a little pre 18th century section, which I've skipped up till now because there are like 10 titles and they are super random.  The pre 18th century portion includes this title and Don Quixote and a couple random Greek and Roman titles.  Aesop's fables are about 320 separate folk tables, all of which have a moral.  The phrase, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." Is one line that we remember to this day, but almost all of the tales are recognizable to anyone who has grown up in the US, UK or Europe.

  Many, though not all of the Fables involve animals talking to one another.  It's "fun" to listen to the tales and speculate about links to a deeper Indo European folklore.  The most likely suspects are the tales involving animals common to Indo European family folklore: donkeys, rabbits, horses and lions.  Some of the fables are obviously non Indo European in origin and come from the wider tales of the Near East from the pre Greek area- tales about Monkeys- a decidedly non Indo European animal- stand out in particular.

 The reader also gets a good feeling for the world of these fables: farmers, smiths, herders, small villages and rural settings.  There are some forests, some Greek/Roman deities and the idea of married couples living together and raising children.   Although Aesop's Fables are often grouped in Greek/Roman literature, there is nothing particularly Greek about them, in the free version I read, the Gods were Roman and the tales seemed more Roman than Greek (the translation most people read was actually written during the Roman period by a Greek speaking author.

  It is hard to imagine a scenario where a reader would sit down and read "the book" of Aesop's fables, more likely is reading the tales aloud to a young trial, but who knows these days.  The Audiobook version ran about four hours for 300 fables.

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