Documents for the Study of the Gospels

By David R. Cartlidge; David L. Dungan | Go to book overview

TEACHINGS
Aesop’s Fables

Introduction: Everyone knows of Aesop’s Fables, but no one knows Aesop. There is even some doubt as to the actual existence of Aesop, one of the most widely published authors in Western history. According to legend, Aesop was a slave who lived at Athens in the sixth century B.C. The fables of Aesop probably represent a collection which grew through the centuries. The variety of the contents of the various manuscripts of Aesop’s Fables demonstrates this. Strictly speaking, a fable is a tale about animals who behave with human attributes. However, the Aesop collection contains other types of story also. Since his animal fables are so familiar, we have included here more of this less-familiar material, as well as a couple of lesser-known animal fables. The morals were probably added much later. Therefore, we have listed them separately so that our readers may more easily draw their own morals.


1. The Witch-Woman

A witch-woman promised many charms and appeasements of religious sins, and she received many payments for her services; from these she made no small living. Because of this, some men accused her of making innovations in the religion; she was dragged to judgment and her accusers succeeded in having her sentenced to death. Someone who saw her as she was led from the courtroom said to her, “Look at you! You promised to appease the wrath of the demons, how is it you cannot persuade men?”


2. Aesop in the Shipyard

Once, Aesop, the fable teller, having some time off, went into a shipyard. The workmen teased him until they provoked him to say, “In olden times there was chaos and water, but Zeus wished to make the element of the earth appear. He ordered that the earth should gulp down the sea three times. The earth began to do so. The first time (she swallowed) and the mountains appeared; then the earth gulped more sea and revealed the plains. If she decides to drink the third time, your boats will be useless!”


3. Prometheus and Mankind

Prometheus created men and beasts at Zeus’ order. When Zeus saw that there were many more arational creatures (i.e., beasts) than men, he ordered

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