Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Aesop's Fables

The book I'm about to be reviewing isn't officially a book, because Aesop's fables have been published in several collections. This collection happens to be the Barnes & Noble Classics collection, but nevertheless, Aesop's fables have played a large influence on literature, entertainment, and the language of which we speak. It's incredible how a storyteller could make their mark during a time period in which stories weren't written, but told orally. Plus Aesop, the one who allegedly told these stories, could have simply been a group of storytellers and not one individual with the name. While some may have never heard of Aesop, the majority of people have heard of or read a revamped or original version of one of their works.

There are plenty of Aesop's fables that are overlooked everyday. "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," "The Tortoise And The Hare," and "The Lion And The Mouse" are only a few of which you have overlooked as being an Aesop fable. These fables, which were short in structure, being one page at the very most, had one goal. This goal was to deliver a moral. In "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," also known as "The Shepherd's Boy And The Wolf," delivers the moral that a liar cannot be believed even when telling the truth. In "The Tortoise And The Hare," the moral is that slow and steady wins the race.

On that subject, plenty of expressions that we use everyday come from Aesop's fables. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" comes from "The Milkmaid And Her Pail," which had to do with a milkmaid who was imagining everything she would do when she would turn the milk into butter and what would happen in her future. She dropped the milk pail and watched her dreams shatter. Others expressions include "Honesty is the best policy" and "think twice before you act."

Some of my personal favorites are those that aren't as familiar to most. These include "The Fox And The Crow," in which the crow has a piece of cheese in their beak that the fox wants. He mentions how beautiful the crow is, but wants to hear her sing to make sure she's completely beautiful. When she opens her mouth to do so, she drops the cheese to the fox for it to eat. "The Ass And The Lapdog" is another memorable fable. For the record, a donkey is referred it as an "ass" throughout the fables. In this particular one, the ass becomes jealous of the dog's position and how he gets to be in the house and sit on his owner's lap. The ass then tries to be like the dog and even sit on the owner's lap. The moral had to do with satisfaction, which became an interesting fiasco with the ass. I saw an online slideshow that made this one look hilarious. "The Wolf And The Crane" is another favorite of mine, in which a wolf had a bone stuck in his throat which the crane easily pulled out. The crane expected a material reward for this action, but the wolf reminded the crane that the reward was that he spared her by not eating her. It goes to show you how we expect immediate material rewards for our actions, while we ignore the more powerful, non-material rewards.

Aesop's fables are highly clever pieces of literature that offer bits of common sense. The Barnes & Noble collection does an excellent job putting together 284 fables and showing how brilliant Aesop or the group of storytellers known as Aesop were in creating these pieces. The stories that are used are incredibly funny and use everything from humans to gods to animals to plants and anything and everything else in between.

If you have yet to read a collection of Aesop's fables, there's much you have missed. Plenty collections exist, but the one I read from is a part of the Barnes & Noble collection that can be found at Barnes & Noble. I urge you to start reading them and digest the powerful words of wisdom.

Verdict: 10/10

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