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Aesop - The Complete Fables [Paperback]

Aesop , Robert Temple , Olivia Temple
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

29 Jan 1998 Penguin Classics

A slave who represented his masters in court and negotiations, Aesop relied on allegorical animal stories, collected here in The Complete Fables, to convey his key points. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Greek by Olivia and Robert Temple with an introduction by Robert Temple.

In a series of pithy, amusing vignettes, Aesop created a vivid cast of characters to demonstrate different aspects of human nature. Here we see a wily fox outwitted by a quick-thinking cicada, a tortoise triumphing over a self-confident hare and a fable-teller named Aesop silencing those who mock him. Each jewel-like fable provides a warning about the consequences of wrongdoing, as well as offering a glimpse into the everyday lives of Ancient Greeks. All Aesop's fables, full of humour, insight and savage wit, as well as many fascinating glimpses of ordinary life, have now been brought together for the first time in this definitive and fully annotated modern edition.

Little is known for certain about the life of Aesop (c.620-564 BC), though details of his life are scattered throughout the works of ancient Greek writers including Aristophanes, Xenophon, Aristotle and Herodotus, who give grounds for thinking that he was a slave, and Plutarch, who identifies him as an entertaining storyteller, executed by the Delphians by being thrown off a cliff.

If you enjoyed The Complete Fables, you might like Ovid's Metamorphoses, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Ground-breaking ... this version of the fables is a revelation ... the translation is excellent'

Peter Jones, Sunday Telegraph

'Aesop remains a fundamental figure in Western literature'

Frederic Raphael, Sunday Times

Frequently Bought Together

Aesop - The Complete Fables + Tales from the Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446494
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

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Product Description

About the Author

AESOP probably lived in the middle part of the sixth century BC. A statement in Herodotus gives grounds for thinking that he was a slave.

OLIVIA TEMPLE is a figurative painter, a director of several private companies, and has also written articles and reviews for a variety of magazines.

ROBERT TEMPLE is the author of eight books, and has published several articles about the scientific works of Aristotle. He is also a television drama producer.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The things brought by ill fortune, taking advantage of the feebleness of those brought by good fortune, pursued them closely. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential, and often profound. 15 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A thought provoking and sometimes moving set of moral lessons and stories, they are genuinely inventive and relate to many issues even today. This particular edition is great because it provides an interesting introduction, a spot-on translation, and useful footnotes explaining the historical references in the text.

Oh, and this is NOT a children's book, although doubtless a child would appreciate the animal tales at face value.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange little treasure 22 Jun 2009
By Jessica
This is a strange little treasure, one that is dark and funny, short and profound and a little horrid. If you are interested in the ancient Greeks and writers like Ovid, then I definitely recommend what is certainly a singular little ancient philosophical joke book, full of witty anecdotes and memorable scenes.

So who's the real Aesop? And is the this the ultimate collection of his fables? I was a little surprised when reading the introduction by Robert Temple as he basically says that a 'proper' edition of all Aesop's fables entirely written by Aesop would be impossible for many reasons. For starters little is known about Aesop and almost nothing can be proven. Even in his own time hardly anything was known about him, instead he was a legendary figure and only more so in later centuries. Because of this Temple speculates that similar witty animal tales likely grew around his name as time went on and these found their way into collections of his work. Also many may not even be Greek in origin as they talk about animal characteristics that wouldn't be known to the Greeks. In fact he postulates that over 250 of the fables attributed to Aesop my be non-Aesopic. According to Temple the children editions available further distort the fables as most of them are carefully selected, heavily re-written and artificially expanded. As I haven't gotten my hands on a children's edition I cannot say if the content differs greatly i.e. if some of the more gruesome stuff is edited out.

Included with some of the fables are morals, these were not written by Aesop but likely added later by collectors of the fables. These are short and written in italics after the fables.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny little stories 17 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book contains the original source to many of the funny little stories which we all learn when we are children. In stead of only reading modern versions, it is interesting to read the originals.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Aesop - The Complete Fables 5 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book describing all the childhood favourites, and many more you may not be familiar with. Lots of very short fables so can read it pretty quickly. A good holiday read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The fables aren't just for kids 21 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This review is of the Penguin Classics edition, on Kindle.

This complete works - 358 fables, most less than a page long - is simply written and nicely annotated, including a "This fable means..." summary for your kids. But the stories themselves resonate much more deeply, being about timeless themes of honour and jealousy, and are worth reading even if you're alone as an adult. After all, these ancient Greeks shaped the way many of us in the West think today.

Problems: on Kindle, the table of contents is nonexistent. A persistent problem with texts converted to Kindle; it seems to happen in around a third of Penguin Classics. More attention to detail would be welcome here, especially since the Kindle versions aren't cheap.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 31 Aug 2013
By Greeno
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really interesting and very well written, provides an incredibly useful view of one of the world's most important and influential writers.
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