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Aesop`s life is known to us thanks to a report by Maxim Planude, a byzantine scholar of the thirteenth century, who probably took up a Greek text from the first century. La Fontaine adapted this story and placed it at the top of his collection of fables entitled “The Life of Aesop the Phrygian”. The historical reality of the astonishing fate of this stuttering and deformed former Nubian slave who manages to be freed and, thanks to his ability to solve puzzles, advise kings, has often been questioned. In particular, parallels have been drawn with the story of Ahiqar, which was circulating in Syria at the time of Aesop`s life. The fable is constituted as a literary genre with Aesop, the greatest fabulist of antiquity, who lived between the seventh and sixth centuries BC. J.-C. and would have come from Thrace near the Black Sea. Considered the father of the fable, he gave it its name. The ancients distinguished between the esope fable, which depicts animals or inanimate objects, and the Libyan fable, in which people treat or talk to animals. [11] Finally, it can be assumed that the fable allows a critical discourse free of censorship. Through staging, he denounces dysfunctions and social and political grievances. The fable is transmitted to the Middle Ages in the form of collections, the hyssopts (deformation of Aesop). A collection attributed to Romulus, comprising 84 fables in Latin, 51 of which were translated from Phaedra, was very popular during this period and was one of the first works to be printed.

[34] Among the authors whose names have survived in the tradition are Syntipas and Pseudo-Dositheus, whose names are not known to refer to real or mythical characters. Literary quality was then abandoned in favor of morality. [35] (For a detailed article, see Isopet.) This criticism would be justified if the fable were indeed presented as a lesson in virtue, when its main characteristic is “to be a specific narrative structure that imposes a transcendent interpretation on itself”[79], that is, an interpretation that goes beyond the apparent level of the narrative. The fable has a very long history in China and existed in oral form three thousand years before our era. During the spring and autumn periods and the warrior realms, it became a literary genre in its own right and appeared in many works of the pre-Qin era, but all the books of this period were unfortunately destroyed by order of Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 213 BC. Chinese fables are not associated with the pen of a single author. The common language preserves the memory of Chuang-tzu`s fables and many anonymous folk fables. [32] These reflect the aspirations, demands and ideals of the working masses. Nowadays, we still read them and learn from them. Many Chinese fables have even become popular four-word phrases, such as “Zhuang zhou meng die” (庄周梦蝶), which evokes the dream of the butterfly of Chuang-tzu Evan, the victim.

The fable is a particular form of apology that designates each story with a moralizing scope. It is different from the parable that represents man and puts meaning into question. [5] It is also different from the exemplum, which is a story presented as true. After all, it differs from the fabliau, which is a satirical or moral story, often grivois, whose genre flourished in France between the twelfth century and the fourteenth century. [6] In the Renaissance, Gilles Corrozet was the first to make a free translation of Aesop`s fables into verse (Les Fables du très ancien Ésope, mises en rithme françoise, 1542). Subsequently, important collections of fables were published, including L`Hécatomythium (1495) and Hecatomythium secundum (1499) by the Italian poet Laurentius Abstemius (Lorentio Astentio in Italian) and the collection of Fables by Gabriel Faërne (or Gabriele Faerno), published in the sixteenth century. The comic strip is also interested in the fable, either to illustrate classic collections and give them a new life, as in Anouk[89], or to parody them, as Gotlib did in Rubrique-à-brac (1970). The figures in a fable are mainly animals that represent people in a pictorial way. The word fable can also refer to a story invented by someone and portrayed as true by that person. There is also the fabulist noun, “author of fables”, and the verb fabuler: a person who fabulates invents stories that he claims to be true. This double tradition is enriched by the taste of the time for the playful aspect of the fable. Thus, a triple influence presides over the redesign of the genre by La Fontaine.

It is he who gives the fable its letters of nobility and elevates the genre to the dignity of poetry. He changed the genre – previously considered free of literary dignity – and added a true literary vocation to his only didactic role. La Fontaine chose the fable, thanks to which he saw the opportunity to practice a natural and spontaneous poetry full of elegant simplicity that could please the audience of the salons. As soon as the first book of fables was published, a real fashion was launched: “There is no instruction more natural and that touches more than that,” wrote the academic Antoine Furetière in 1671. The name of Jean de La Fontaine is thus part of a long history of the genre and his fables are largely inspired by the fables of Aesop, Phaedra and all their heirs, as well as those of Bidpay. However, thanks to the masterful revival, the fabulist allowed the genre to reach its peak. Aesop was already very popular in ancient times, as evidenced by the fact that Socrates himself would have devoted his last moments in prison before his death to the implementation of the verses of this author. He would have explained it to his student as follows: “A poet must take myths as a subject […] So I chose myths at hand, these fables of Aesop, which I knew by heart, on the occasion of the meeting[12]. Diogenes Laerce even attributes a fable to Socrates, which began: “One day Aesop told the inhabitants of Corinth that virtue should not be subject to the judgment of the people. However, it is a commandment that today is generally associated with the philosopher rather than the fabulist. Socrates probably used the name Aesop to convey his commandments through apologists.

[13] Each fable has a morality that opens or closes the narrative. The declared truths paint a kind of balance sheet of human nature and social functioning: example: “Depending on whether you are powerful or unhappy, / court decisions will make you white or black” (“The sick animals of the plague” by La Fontaine). There are also commandments of wisdom and various recommendations. A second allegorical level appears when each of the characters in the story or each of the plot elements must be interpreted on a metaphorical level for the meaning of the narrative to appear. This is the case, for example, in Florian`s journey, where one must see the relationship between the moments of human life and those of a journey that begins at dawn and ends in the evening. This mechanism of interpretation would be a generic feature of the fable, which “as a system established the ability of each narrative to end with an evaluation”[87]. In England, Eudes of Cheriton (1190 – 1246/47) wrote in Latin a collection of fables, some of which come from Aesop and various authors. He uses the fable in conjunction with parables and examples to fuel sermons and sermons. [36] The genre flourished in the Middle Ages. The Greek fabelist Aesop was so popular at the time that all the collections of fables of Hyssopet were called: for example, those of Mary of France (twelfth century) and the Fabliaux, where morality counts less than observation. Many fables from all over the world – Indian (those of Bidpay) or Arabic (those of Lokman, fourteenth century) – are also translated during this period.