Aesop and Animal Fable

Jeremy B. Lefkowitz

in The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780199589425
Published online March 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Aesop and Animal Fable

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  • Marriage and the Family


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This chapter examines the tensions between the symbolic valence of anthropomorphic animals and authentic concerns about real animals in fables of ancient times. It provides an overview of sources and scholarly approach in this study of the Graeco-Latin fable and explores the boundaries between human and animal in early Greek fable-telling. This chapter suggests that the fable tradition occasionally eschews symbolism and anthropomorphism entirely, which reveals a deep and abiding interest in animal behaviour and in material that could be considered as natural history. It also mentions that the fable was linked to the lower classes and affiliated with slaves in antiquity.

Keywords: fables; anthropomorphic animals; symbolic valence; Greek fable-telling; natural history; lower classes; slaves; antiquity

Article.  11609 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Marriage and the Family

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