January 3rd, 2005



Why read the Times when you can read the real thing? Æsop’s Fables is an online collection of over 656 fables. Included are lesson plans and reading’s by the daughter of the website’s author. Unfortunately the sources of individual tales are not clear. Most are from George Fyler Townsend’s translation.
THE TALE, the Parable, and the Fable are all common and popular modes of conveying instruction. Each is distinguished by its own special characteristics. The Tale consists simply in the narration
La Fontaine, Fables 9no8,
(François Chauveau)
of a story either founded on facts, or created solely by the imagination, and not necessarily associated with the teaching of any moral lesson. The Parable is the designed use of language purposely intended to convey a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained in the words themselves; and which may or may not bear a special reference to the hearer, or reader. The Fable partly agrees with, and partly differs from both of these. It will contain, like the Tale, a short but real narrative; it will seek, like the Parable, to convey a hidden meaning, and that not so much by the use of language, as by the skilful introduction of fictitious characters; and yet unlike to either Tale or Parable, it will ever keep in view,
La Fontaine, Fables 6no12,
(François Chauveau)
as its high prerogative, and inseparable attribute, the great purpose of instruction, and will necessarily seek to inculcate some moral maxim, social duty, or political truth. The true Fable, if it rise to its high requirements, ever aims at one great end and purpose—representation of human motive, and the improvement of human conduct, and yet it so conceals its design under the disguise of fictitious characters, by clothing with speech the animals of the field, the birds of the air, the trees of the wood, or the beasts of the forest, that the reader shall receive advice without perceiving the presence of the adviser.
From the Preface by George Fyler
Townsend to Three Hundred Æsop’s
(London: George Routledge, 1867)
Gregory Carlson maintains a extensive catalogue of material on fables, mostly Æsop’s. Be sure to look at the Objects pages: this is a labor of love.