Friday, October 23, 2009

Aesop and the 'Invention' of the Fable

Aesop's Fables Poster (Found at
Artist Unknown

Of course there were fables before Aesop - in fact, according to THIS article fables are thought to be the second oldest source of stories known (myths coming before then) but apparently many think fables were all Aesop's idea.

It seems funny it should even need addressing but this article I found is a nice read with a lot of interesting things about ancient stories and when they were written down so I thought I would share.
Aesop: Fox and a Sick Lion Color Woodcut
by Joseph Low

Please note: this article does not make mention of ancient forms of story recording by Mayans, Egyptians and Australian Aboriginies among other ancient peoples. From time to time a new way of looking at these surviving 'art-writings' or 'visual stories' (in murals, cave paintings, pictographs, pottery etc) reveals our 'translation' of these artforms has been incomplete or crude. The beginnings of writing and recording stories is one of those topics that get academics a little steamed so I don't presume to present the complete historical fact for you here. Just thought I'd mention the omission.
Aesop's Lion & the Mouse
by Paned Expressions

In addition, there's a little bit of information about Aesop himself too. Here's an excerpt:

As nothing in that era was written down (except the exploits of a King or warrior), it is impossible to know exactly whether Aesop thought of the fables himself, or whether he was a wandering storyteller who collected fables. In the days of such widespread illiteracy, it is likely Aesop could not even read or write. Some have suggested he may have been blind, as Homer is suggested to be. The earliest reference to written fables we have is from the Greek historian Herodotus from around 300 BC. Unfortunately, Herodotus seemed to think everyone knew Aesop and his fables so well that he did not need to give any details of Aesop or his work.

You can read the whole article HERE.
The Gnat and the Bull
(from The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables)
by Don Daily

For more information on Aesop himself, WIKIPEDIA is a good place to start.


  1. The poster is a compilation of illustrations by Walter Crane for The Baby's Own Aesop.

    Fun post, too...

  2. I have always been enamored of fables... So interesting to learn a bit about Aesop.

  3. Great post! That first poster is FABULOUS! Thanks for the info Heidi!