Aesop's Fables

Babrius (also Babrias; Greek: Βάβριος or Βαβρίας; fl. c. 2nd century AD) was the author of a collection of fables written in Greek. He collected many of the fables that are known to us today simply as Aesop's fables.
Greek manuscript, Babrius's fables of Aesop (British Library)

Aesop's Fables are a collection of fables credited to Aesop (620—560 BC), a story-teller that lived in Ancient Greece. Aesop's Fables become a blanket term for collections of brief fables, usually involving personified animals. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today.
Some of Aesop's fables have multiple translations.

In 1842 the Greek Minoides Mynas came upon a manuscript of Babrius in the convent of St Laura on Mount Athos, now in the British Museum. This manuscript contained 123 fables out of the supposed original number, 160. They are arranged alphabetically, but break off at the letter O. The fables are written in choliambic, that is, limping or imperfect iambic verse, having a spondee as the last foot, a metre originally appropriated to scurrilous verse. The style is extremely good, the expression being terse and pointed, the versification correct and elegant, and the construction of the stories is fully equal to that in the prose versions. The genuineness of this collection of the fables was generally admitted by scholars. In 1857 Minas professed to have discovered at Mount Athos another manuscript containing 94 fables and a preface. As the monks refused to sell this manuscript, he made a copy of it, which was sold to the British Museum, and was published in 1859 by Sir G Cornewall Lewis. This, however, was soon proved to be a forgery. Six more fables were brought to light by P Knoll from a Vatican manuscript (edited by A Eberhard, Analecta Babriana, 1879).
A third- or fourth-century papyrus containing a text of Babrius accompanied by Latin translation (P.Amherst II 26, column ii)

Apollonius of Tyana, a 1st-century CE philosopher, is recorded as having said about Aesop:

    ... like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, he made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he adds to it the advice to do a thing or not to do it. Then, too, he was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be true, told the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events.
    —Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book V:14

The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned in passing that "Aesop the fable writer" who lived in Ancient Greece during the 5th century BCE. Among references in other writers, Aristophanes, in his comedy The Wasps, represented the protagonist Philocleon as having learnt the "absurdities" of Aesop from conversation at banquets; Plato wrote in Phaedo that Socrates whiled away his jail time turning some of Aesop's fables "which he knew" into verses. Nonetheless, for two main reasons – because numerous morals within Aesop's attributed fables contradict each other, and because ancient accounts of Aesop's life contradict each other – the modern view is that Aesop did not solely compose all those fables attributed to him, if he even existed at all. Instead, any fable tended to be ascribed to the name of Aesop if there was no known alternative literary source.
In Classical times there were various theorists who tried to differentiate these fables from other kinds of narration. They had to be short and unaffected; in addition, they are fictitious, useful to life and true to nature.In them could be found talking animals and plants, although humans interacting only with humans figure in a few. Typically they might begin with a contextual introduction, followed by the story, often with the moral underlined at the end. Setting the context was often necessary as a guide to the story's interpretation, as in the case of the political meaning of The Frogs Who Desired a King and The Frogs and the Sun.

Sometimes the titles given later to the fables have become proverbial, as in the case of 'killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs or the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. In fact some fables, such as The Young Man and the Swallow, appear to have been invented as illustrations of already existing proverbs. One theorist, indeed, went so far as to define fables as extended proverbs.[6] In this they have an aetiological function, the explaining of origins such as, in another context, why the ant is a mean, thieving creature. Other fables, also verging on this function, are outright jokes, as in the case of The Old Woman and the Doctor, aimed at greedy practitioners of medicine.

The contradictions between fables already mentioned and alternative versions of much the same fable - as in the case of The Woodcutter and the Trees, are best explained by the ascription to Aesop of all examples of the genre. Some are demonstrably of West Asian origin, others have analogues even further to the East. Modern scholarship reveals fables and proverbs of Aesopic form existing in both ancient Sumer and Akkad, as early as the third millennium BCE. Aesop's fables and the Indian tradition, as represented by the Buddhist Jataka Tales and the Hindu Panchatantra, share about a dozen tales in common although often widely differing in detail. There is therefore some debate over whether the Greeks learned these fables from Indian storytellers or the other way, or if the influences were mutual. Loeb editor Ben E. Perry took the extreme position in his book Babrius and Phaedrus that

    In the entire Greek tradition there is not, so far as I can see, a single fable that can be said to come either directly or indirectly from an Indian source; but many fables or fable-motifs that first appear in Greek or Near Eastern literature are found later in the Panchatantra and other Indian story-books, including the Buddhist Jatakas.
Although Aesop and the Buddha were near contemporaries, the stories of neither were recorded in writing until some centuries after their death and few disinterested scholars would now be prepared to make so absolute a stand about their origin in view of the conflicting and still emerging evidence.

When and how the fables arrived in and travelled from ancient Greece remains uncertain. Some cannot be dated any earlier than Babrius and Phaedrus, several centuries after Aesop, and yet others even later. The earliest mentioned collection was by Demetrius of Phalerum, an Athenian orator and statesman of the 4th century BCE, who compiled the fables into a set of ten books for the use of orators. A follower of Aristotle, he simply catalogued all the fables that earlier Greek writers had used in isolation as exempla, putting them into prose. At least it was evidence of what was attributed to Aesop by others; but this may have included any ascription to him from the oral tradition in the way of animal fables, fictitious anecdotes, etiological or satirical myths, possibly even any proverb or joke, that these writers transmitted. It is more a proof of the power of Aesop's name to attract such stories to it than evidence of his actual authorship. In any case, although the work of Demetrius was mentioned frequently for the next twelve centuries, and was considered the official Aesop, no copy now survives.

Present day collections evolved from the later Greek version of Babrius, of which there now exists an incomplete manuscript of some 160 fables in choliambic verse. Current opinion is that he lived in the 1st century CE. In the 11th century appear the fables of 'Syntipas', now thought to be the work of the Greek scholar Michael Andreopulos. These are translations of a Syriac version, itself translated from a much earlier Greek collection, and contain some fables unrecorded before. The version of 55 fables in choliambic tetrameters by the 9th century CE Ignatius the Deacon is also worth mentioning for its early inclusion of stories from Oriental sources.

Some light is thrown on the entry of stories from Oriental sources into the Aesopic canon by their appearance in Jewish commentaries on the Talmud and in Midrashic literature from the 1st century CE. There is a comparative list of these on the Jewish Encyclopedia website of which twelve resemble those that are common to both Greek and Indian sources, six are parallel to those only in Indian sources, and six others in Greek only. Where similar fables exist in Greece, India, and in the Talmud, the Talmudic form approaches more nearly the Indian. Thus, the fable "The Wolf and the Crane" is told in India of a lion and another bird. When Joshua ben Hananiah told that fable to the Jews, to prevent their rebelling against Rome and once more putting their heads into the lion's jaws (Gen. R. lxiv.), he shows familiarity with some form derived from India.

The entries in the following alphabetical list link to the fables within George Fyler Townsend's work; Townsend's collection was not ordered alphabetically.

        The Aethiop
    The Ant and the Dove
    The Ant and the Chrysalis
    The Ant and the Fly
    The Ants and the Grasshopper
    The Apes and the Two Travelers
    The Ass and His Driver
    The Ass and His Masters
    The Ass and His Purchaser
    The Ass and His Shadow
    The Ass and the Charger
    The Ass and the Frogs
    The Ass and the Grasshopper
    The Ass and the Horse
    The Ass and the Lapdog
    The Ass and the Mule
    The Ass and the Old Shepherd
    The Ass and the Wolf
    The Ass Carrying the Image
    The Ass in the Lion's Skin
    The Ass, the Cock, and the Lion
    The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion
    The Astronomer
    The Bald Knight
    The Bald Man and the Fly
    The Bat and the Weasels
    The Bear and the Fox
    The Bear and the Two Travelers
    The Bee and Jupiter
    The Belly and the Members
    The Birdcatcher, the Partridge, and the Cock
    The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat
    The Bitch and Her Whelps
    The Blind Man and the Whelp
    The Boasting Traveler
    The Bowman and Lion
    The Boy and the Filberts
    The Boy and the Nettles
    The Boy Bathing
    The Boy Hunting Locusts
    The Boys and the Frogs
    The Brazier and His Dog
    The Brother and the Sister
    The Buffoon and the Countryman
    The Bull and the Calf
    The Bull and the Goat
    The Bull, the Lioness, and the Wild-Boar Hunter
    The Butcher and the Flock
    The Camel
    The Camel and Jupiter
    The Camel and the Arab
    The Cat and the Birds
    The Cat and the Cock
    The Cat and the Mice
    The Cat and Venus
    The Charcoal-Burner and the Fuller
    The Charger and the Miller
    The Cobbler Turned Doctor
    The Cock and the Jewel
    The Crab and Its Mother
    The Crab and the Fox
    The Crow and Mercury
    The Crow and the Pitcher
    The Crow and the Raven
    The Crow and the Serpent
    The Crow and the Sheep
    The Dancing Monkeys
    The Doe and the Lion
    The Dog and the Cook
    The Dog and the Hare
    The Dog and the Lamb
    The Dog and the Oyster
    The Dog and His Shadow
    The Dog in the Manger
    The Dog, the Cock, and the Fox
    The Dog's House
    The Dogs and the Fox
    The Dogs and the Hides
    The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat
    The Donkey and the Lion
    The Dove and the Crow
    The Eagle and His Captor
    The Eagle and the Arrow
    The Eagle and the Fox
    The Eagle and the Jackdaw
    The Eagle and the Kite
    The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow
    The Falconer and the Birds
    The Farmer and the Cranes
    The Farmer and the Fox
    The Farmer and the Snake
    The Farmer and the Stork
    The Farmer and His Sons
    The Father and His Sons
    The Father and His Two Daughters
    The Fawn and His Mother
    The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle
    The Fir-Tree and the Bramble
    The Fishermen
    The Fisherman and His Nets
    The Fisherman and the Little Fish
    The Fisherman Piping
    The Flea and the Man
    The Flea and the Ox
    The Flea and the Wrestler
    The Flies and the Honey-Pot
    The Fly and the Draught-Mule
    The Fowler and the Viper
    The Fox and the Bramble
    The Fox and the Crane
    The Fox and the Crow
    The Fox and the Goat
    The Fox and the Grapes
    The Fox and the Hedgehog
    The Fox and the Leopard
    The Fox and the Lion (1)
    The Fox and the Lion (2)
    The Fox and the Mask
    The Fox and the Monkey (1)
    The Fox and the Monkey (2)
    The Fox and the Woodcutter
    The Fox Who Had Lost His Tail
    The Frogs Asking for a King
    The Frogs' Complaint Against the Sun
    The Gamecocks and the Partridge
    The Geese and the Cranes
    The Gnat and the Bull
    The Gnat and the Lion
    The Goat and the Ass
    The Goat and the Goatherd
    The Goatherd and the Wild Goats
    The Goods and the Ills
    The Grasshopper and the Owl
    The Hare and the Hound
    The Hare and the Tortoise
    The Hares and the Foxes
    The Hares and the Frogs
    The Hares and the Lions
    The Hart and the Vine
    The Hawk and the Nightingale
    The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons
    The Heifer and the Ox
    The Hen and the Golden Eggs
    The Hen and the Swallow
    Hercules and the Wagoner
    The Herdsman and the Lost Bull
    The Horse and Groom
    The Horse and His Rider
    The Horse and the Ass
    The Horse and the Stag
    The Hunter and the Horseman
    The Hunter and the Woodman
    The Huntsman and the Fisherman
    The Image of Mercury and the Carpenter
    The Jackdaw and the Doves
    The Jackdaw and the Fox
    The Jay and the Peacock
    Jupiter and the Monkey
    Jupiter, Neptune, Minerva, and Momus
    The Kid and the Wolf (1)
    The Kid and the Wolf (2)
    The King's Son and the Painted Lion
    The Kingdom of the Lion
    The Kites and the Swans
    The Laborer and the Snake
    The Lamb and the Wolf
    The Lamp
    The Lark and Her Young Ones
    The Lark Burying Her Father
    The Lion and the Boar
    The Lion and the Bull
    The Lion and the Dolphin
    The Lion and the Eagle
    The Lion and the Fox
    The Lion and the Hare
    The Lion and the Mouse
    The Lion and the Shepherd
    The Lion and the Three Bulls
    The Lion in a Farmyard
    The Lion in Love
    The Lion, Jupiter, and the Elephant
    The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox
    The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass
    The Lion, the Mouse, and the Fox
    The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox
    The Lioness
    The Man and His Two Sweethearts
    The Man and His Wife
    The Man and the Lion
    The Man and the Satyr
    The Man and the Weasel
    The Man Bitten by a Dog
    The Man, the Horse, the Ox, and the Dog
    The Manslayer
    The Master and His Dogs
    The Merchant and the Ass
    Mercury and the Sculptor
    Mercury and the Workmen
    The Mice and the Weasels
    The Mice in Council
    The Milk-Woman and Her Pail
    The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
    The Mischievous Dog
    The Miser
    The Mole and His Mother
    The Monkey and the Camel
    The Monkey and the Dolphin
    The Monkey and the Fishermen
    The Monkey and the Fox
    The Monkey and the Lion's Breath
    The Monkeys and Their Mother
    The Mother and the Wolf
    The Mountain in Labor
    The Mouse and the Bull
    The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk
    The Mule
    The Mules and the Robbers
    The Nightingale, the Hawk, and the Bird Catcher
    The North Wind and the Sun
    The Oak and the Reeds
    The Oak and the Woodcutter
    The Oaks and Jupiter
    The Old Bull and the Young Bull
    The Old Hound
    The Old Lion
    The Old Man and Death
    The Old Woman and the Physician
    The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
    The Olive-Tree and the Fig-Tree
    The One-Eyed Doe
    The Owl and the Birds
    The Ox and the Frog
    The Oxen and the Axle-Trees
    The Oxen and the Butchers
    The Panther and the Shepherds
    The Partridge and the Fowler
    The Peacock and Juno
    The Peacock and the Crane
    The Peasant and the Apple-Tree
    The Peasant and the Eagle
    The Philosopher, the Ants, and Mercury
    The Piglet, the Sheep, and the Goat
    The Playful Ass
    The Pomegranate, the Apple-Tree, and the Bramble
    The Prophet
    The Quack Frog
    The Raven and the Birds
    The Raven and the Swan
    The Rich Man and the Tanner
    The Rivers and the Sea
    The Rose and the Amaranth
    The Salt Merchant and His Ass
    The Seagull and the Kite
    The Seaside Travelers
    The Seller of Images
    The Serpent and the Eagle
    The She-Goats and Their Beards
    The Shepherd and the Dog
    The Shepherd and the Sea
    The Shepherd and the Sheep
    The Shepherd and the Wolf
    The Shepherd's Boy and the Wolf
    The Shipwrecked Man and the Sea
    The Sick Kite
    The Sick Lion
    The Sick Stag
    The Snake and the Farmer
    The Sow and the Wolf
    The Sparrow and the Hare
    The Spendthrift and the Swallow
    The Stag at the Pool
    The Stag in the Ox-Stall
    The Stag, the Wolf, and the Sheep
    The Swallow and the Crow
    The Swallow and the Other Birds
    The Swallow, the Serpent, and the Court of Justice
    The Swan and the Goose
    The Swollen Fox
    The Thief and His Mother
    The Thief and the Housedog
    The Thief and the Innkeeper
    The Thieves and the Cock
    The Thirsty Pigeon
    The Three Tradesmen
    The Thrush and the Fowler
    The Tortoise and the Birds
    The Tortoise and the Eagle
    The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
    The Traveler and Fortune
    The Traveler and His Dog
    The Travelers and the Plane-Tree
    The Trees and the Axe
    The Trees Under the Protection of the Gods)
    The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner
    Truth and the Traveler
    The Two Bags
    The Two Dogs
    The Two Frogs (1)
    The Two Frogs (2)
    The Two Men Who Were Enemies
    The Two Pots
    The Two Soldiers and the Robber
    The Two Travelers and the Axe
    The Vain Jackdaw
    Venus and the Hen
    The Vine and the Goat
    The Viper and the File
    The Walnut-Tree
    The Wasp and the Snake
    The Wasps, the Partridges, and the Farmer
    The Weasel and the Mice
    The Widow and Her Lover
    The Widow and Her Little Maidens
    The Widow and the Sheep
    The Wild Ass and the Lion
    The Wild Boar and the Fox
    The Wolf and the Crane
    The Wolf and the Fox
    The Wolf and the Goat
    The Wolf and the Horse
    The Wolf and the Housedog
    The Wolf and the Kid
    The Wolf and the Lamb
    The Wolf and the Lion (1)
    The Wolf and the Lion (2)
    The Wolf and the Sheep
    The Wolf and the Shepherd
    The Wolf and the Shepherds
    The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
    The Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape
    The Wolves and the Sheep
    The Woman and Her Hen
    The Wolves and the Sheepdogs
    The Young Man and the Prostitute

    Boissonade (1844)
    Lachmann (1845)
    Schneider (1853)
    Johann Adam Hartung (1858, edition and German translation)
    Eberhard (1876)
    Gitlbauer (1882)
    Rutherford (1883)
    Knoll, Fabularum Babrianarum Paraphrasis Bodleiana (1877)
    Feuillet (1890)
    Desrousseaux (1890)
    Passerat (1892)
    Croiset (1892)
    Crusius (1897).
    Mantels, Über die Fabeln des B. (1840)
    Crusius, De Babrii Aetate (1879)
    Ficus, De Babrii Vita (1889)
    J Weiner, Quaestiones Babrianae (1891)
    Conington, Miscellaneous Writings, ii. 460-491
    Marchiano, Babrio (1899)
    Fusci, Babrio (1901)
    Christoffersson, Studia de Fabvlis Babrianis (1901).

Early translations in English were made by Davies (1860) and in French by Levêque (1890), and in many other languages. More contemporary translations are by Denison B. Hull (University of Chicago Press) and Ben E. Perry (Harvard University Press).

In 1941, Heritage Press produced a "fine book" edition of Aesop, translated and adapted by Munro Leaf as juvenalia and lavishly illustrated by Robert Lawson.

In 1998, Penguin Classics released a new translation by Olivia and Robert Temple entitled, Aesop: The Complete Fables in reference to the fact that some previous translations were partial. Working from the Chambry text published in 1927, the Temple translation includes 358 fables; Robert Temple acknowledges on page xxiv that scholars will in all likelihood challenge the "Aesopian" origin of some of them.

also check (online e-book) : Aesop's fables in Central Asia A contribution to project'China and the Mediterranean world'of the Union Académique Internationale Participation of the Turfan, HERE

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