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(ē`səp, ē`sŏp), legendary Greek fabulist. According to Herodotus, he was a slave who lived in Samos in the 6th cent. B.C. and eventually was freed by his master. Other accounts associate him with many wild adventures and connect him with such rulers as Solon and Croesus. The fables called Aesop's fables were preserved principally through BabriusBabrius
, fl. 2d cent.?, Greek fabulist, versifier of the fables of Aesop. Many of the medieval prose collections of Aesop were based on Babrius. He may have been a Hellenized Roman.
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, PhaedrusPhaedrus
, fl. 1st cent. A.D., Latin writer, a Thracian slave, possibly a freedman of Augustus. He wrote fables in verse based largely on those of Aesop. The prose collections of fables that were popular throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages were probably derived from Phaedrus.
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, Planudes MaximusPlanudes Maximus
or Maximus Planudes,
c.1260–c.1330, Byzantine scholar, an exceptionally learned monk. His edition of the Greek Anthology was long the standard. His prose collection of Aesop's Fables is outstanding.
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, and La FontaineLa Fontaine, Jean de
, 1621–95, French poet, whose celebrated fables place him among the masters of world literature. He was born at Château-Thierry to a bourgeois family. A restless dilettante as a youth, he settled at last in Paris.
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's verse translations. The most famous of these fables include "The Fox and the Grapes" and "The Tortoise and the Hare." See fablefable,
brief allegorical narrative, in verse or prose, illustrating a moral thesis or satirizing human beings. The characters of a fable are usually animals who talk and act like people while retaining their animal traits.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Greek author of fables in the sixth century B.C. According to legend, Aesop was a Phrygian freedman who was employed at the court of the Lydian king Croesus and died a violent death in Delphi. Biographical information on Aesop is drawn from legend.

Aesop has been credited with supplying the themes of most of the fables known in antiquity. Short written versions of these fables were collected in the fourth and third centuries B.C.; more than 300 fables with short “morals” appear in many later manuscripts ranging in time from the tenth to the 15th century. Ideologically, Aesop’s fables are skeptical and pessimistic; their protagonists—mainly animals—are avowedly conventional figures, the narrative is concise and straightforward, and the language is simple and close to the colloquial. Aesop’s fables are the basic source of themes for the European literary fable from Phaedrus and Babrius to La Fontaine and I. A. Krylov.


Aesopica, vol. 1. Edited by B. E. Perry. Urbana, 1952.
In Russian translation:
Basni Esopa. Moscow, 1968.


Gasparov, M. L. Antichnye literaturnye basni, Moscow, 1971.
Nøjgaard, M. La Fable antique, vol. 1. Copenhagen, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


semi-legendary fabulist of ancient Greece. [Gk. Lit.: Harvey, 10]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?620--564 bc, Greek author of fables in which animals are given human characters and used to satirize human failings
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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References in periodicals archive ?
(8) The variety of poetic kinds and modes that Finch used is just one indication of the range of personae that she enlisted, including the Aesopian narrator, the satirist (despite Finch's claims to the contrary), the various Ardelias (often the pastoral poet or playful correspondent but also the poet of melancholy and victim of political oppression), the lyrist, the heroic and the mock-heroic writer, the elegist whose poems usually mourned both the dead and the condition of the state, the devotional poet, biblical paraphraser, and the odist who treated matters of spiritual and political significance (here I include "The Spleen" as such a poem as well as the more obvious examples, such as "All is Vanity" and "Upon the Hurricane").
He exploited the techniques of "Aesopian language" and experimented with various forms of fiction.
One understands why Averintsev says that they leave a sad impression, but it is possible (without going overboard with Aesopian meanings) that there is more to them than meets the eye, as revealed for example in the fine analysis of the "Charlie Chaplin" poems in Clare Cavanagh's book.
He does not see the distinction between systematization and codification, nor the difference between a "code" and a "Digest"; he does not appreciate the legal skills required to undertake one or the other; he speaks incorrectly about "compilation" and "two law codes"; he does not see the subtleties of the elements of systematization (the distinctions between, roughly speaking, restating the law as set out in sundry pieces of legislation and changing the law in the guise of restating rules); he is not sensitized to the vigorous and sometimes Aesopian debate that attends law reform projects between the empowerment of the technical draftsmen to "improve" the legislation and to "make" law; and so on.
Further: partly as a result of the ever-present threat of state action, a characteristic mode of writing and reading of this Jacobin public sphere was allegory, partly 'Aesopian' but pervasive also in all forms of writing which could be read, and are certainly so read by Scrivener, as making multiple allusions to the social and political world that produced them.
1924), and others, whose works, through the use of Aesopian language, parabolic subtexts, and allusions, sought to expose the immorality and hypocrisy of the Soviet state.
Smeliansky reiterates the conventional wisdom that theatre under Soviet rule occupied a privileged place as one of the few spheres where public gatherings were permitted; the government tolerated a degree of dissent and criticism in the theatre so long as it confined itself within given parameters and employed an "Aesopian" technique of suggesting veiled parallels between contemporary society and the allegedly discrete world depicted on stage.
Instead, he ultimately agreed to participate in the grotesque spectacle in order to save his family and to speak publicly for the last time, in every Aesopian way available to him, about crucial, even anti-Stalinist, matters.
Using characteristically Aesopian language, the president of Sotheby's says: "What we are saying is that the individual may not bid with the expectation that they will be financed on that particular lot ...
Second, they represented a translation from Aesopian language and euphemism to conversational German, on behalf of the slow-witted, the saboteurs, and so on.
(30) Those interested in the interrelation between "Staraia byl" and "Domik" should consult Michael Finke's article cited earlier ("Aesopian Meaning").