You see I did not exaggerate when I said my old book of Aesop’s Fables was falling apart. On the other hand, how could I throw away a book with such beautiful illustrations?
|The Fox and the Crow|
|Wolf and Sheep|
|Cattle and Butchers (only cattle shown)|
|The Oak and the Reeds|
are all common and popular modes of conveying instruction. Each is distinguished by its own special characteristics. The Tale consists simply in the narration of a story either founded on facts, or created solely by the imagination, and not necessarily associated with the teaching of any moral lesson. The Parable is the designed use of language purposely intended to convey a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained in the words themselves.... The Fable partly agrees with and partly differs from both of these. It will contain, like the Tale, a short but real narrative; it will seek, like the Parable, to convey a hidden meaning ... by the skillful introduction of fictitious characters; and yet, unlike to either Tale or Parable, it will ever keep in view, as its high prerogative, and inseparable attribute, to inculcate some moral maxim, social duty, or political truth.
The narration should relate to one simple action, consistent with itself, and neither be overladen with a multiplicity of details, nor distracted by a variety of circumstances. The moral or lesson should be so plain, and so intimately interwoven with, and so necessarily dependent on, the narration, that every reader should be compelled to give to it the same undeniable interpretation.
- “Gentle persuasion Is better than force” is the moral of “The Contest Between the Wind and the Sun”;
- “It is better to bend than to break” comes from “The Oak and the Reed”;
- “Practice what you preach” from “The Quack Frog.”
- “In dangerous times, wise men say nothing” is the moral of “The Lion and His Three Counselors”; while
- From “The Hen and the Fox” we are to draw the lesson, “Beware of insincere friends”; and, finally (for this very brief list of examples),
- “Treat others as you want them to treat you,” the Golden Rule, Aesop’s version, comes from “The Eagle and the Fox.”
Townsend: Then said the Wolf: “May no friend of mine ever be in such a plight; for the weight of this chain is enough to spoil the appetite.” Panati: As the wolf started back toward the forest he said, “Good night to you, my poor friend, you are welcome to your dainties—and your chains. As for me, I prefer my freedom to your fat.”