Handout for 1/18

January 18: Introduction. Introductory principles, and some fables by Aesop and Kafka.

I got some of my Aesop details wrong, though not the part about his having been a slave! One of you got Aesop’s time period right in class: ancient references to him suggest the biographical Aesop lived in the 6th century BCE (see this encyclopedia entry, which gives his birthplace as either Thrace on the Black Sea). His fables, in whatever sense they are “his,” come down to us from many sources, in both Greek and Latin. To get a sense of the overwhelming variety of what counts as Aesop, take a look at the website created by the translator Laura Gibbs, whose versions of the fables we looked at on the handout: Aesopica: Aesop’s Fables in English, Latin & Greek. For example, the page for The Ant and the Cricket will give you links to the Ancient Greek but also to the 1484 English version of William Caxton—from one of the very first books printed in English—and many other versions besides.

Author: AG

Associate Professor, Department of English, Rutgers University, New Brunswick