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The Fables of Phaedrus

The Fables of Phaedrus by Phaedrus
By: (c. 15 BC - c. AD 50)

The fable is a small narrative, in prose or verse, which has as its main characteristic the aim of conveying a moral lesson (the “moral”), implicitly or, more normally, explicitly expressed. Even though the modern concept of fable is that it should have animals or inanimated objects as characters – an idea supported by the works of famous fabulists such as Aesop and La Fontaine – Phaedrus, the most important Latin fabulist, is innovative in his writing. Although many of his fables do depict animals or objects assuming speech, he also has many short stories about men, writing narratives that seem to the modern eye more like short tales than fables.

Despite many other fables being attributed to Phaedrus, only five books are considered by scholarship to have been written by him. Phaedrus’ five books of fables are here presented in a translation to English prose by Henry Thomas Ridley.

First Page:

[Transcriber's Note:

This e text is intended for users whose text readers cannot display the "real" (Unicode, utf 8) version of the file. Greek words in the Notes have been transliterated and shown between marks. The "oe" ligature is written as the separate letters "oe".

The text is taken from an omnibus volume that also contained Riley's translation of the six surviving plays of Terence. The full title page has been retained for completeness, but the sections of the Preface and Contents that apply only to Terence have been omitted.

In the original text, words and phrases supplied by the translator (Riley only) were printed in italics . In this e text they are shown in {braces}. Italics in the notes and commentary are shown conventionally with lines , boldface by =marks=.

Footnotes have been renumbered within each Book, and grouped after their Fables. The name is spelled "Æsop" in Riley, "Esop" in Smart and in the Contents. Inconsistencies in fable numbering are described at the beginning of the Table of Contents.

Typographical errors are listed at the end of the text... Continue reading book >>


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