Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Aesop's Fables: Translated by S. A. Handford


Ranking:  #1001 on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list
ISBN #: 978-0-14-036984-7
Format: Paperback
Page Count:  212

About the Author:
(Taken from first page after front cover)

Aesop was a slave who lived in the early sixth century BC on the island of Samos, which lies off the coast of modern Turkey.  Aesop came originally from Thrace, which was in those days separate country, though it now forms part of Greece and Bulgaria.  After being enslaved, he went to work on Samos for a master called Iadmon.  That is all that is known for certain of his life, although a large number of legends grew up around him - including one which claims that he came back to life!

(Taken from first page after front cover)

The particular quality of Aesop's fables is that they use the imaginary adventures of animals to make a moral point about human life.  The reader will be astonished at how familiar most of the stories are.  Some of them have even given phrases to the English language: we use 'sour grapes' as a synonym for 'envy', for example.  But the stories have the ability to seem familiar even if one has never come across them before, because they reflect common-sense and folk wisdom, which everyone in any culture learns from childhood onwards.


That a slave spoke fables in sixth century BC does not amaze me.  What does amaze and awe me is the fact that Aesop's fables are still being used by a wide range of people.  To this day, Aesop is still teaching and making people think about moral issues.

The summary was correct when it stated that the stories have the ability to seem familiar.  There were quite a few that when I finished reading them I'd stop and think, "I never knew that was where that saying came from."

The fables were easy to read.  Many of them were only a paragraph long.  The moral was written at the beginning or end of most of the fables.  The fables that did not have the moral so blatantly depicted were still easy to understand and comprehend.  You could almost read this book like you would a devotional ... one fable every morning to start your day so you can contemplate its meaning all day long.  Who knows ... perhaps it would slowly change the way a person thinks and sees the world.

Overall, I enjoyed reading these fables and being able to re-familiarize myself with the morals of each.  I can understand why this book made the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.  I think everyone should get a copy and read a fable or two whenever they have a few minutes to spare each day.

1 comment:

  1. this was one of my favs growing up, loved the fables and morals


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