The Complete Fables Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 69 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Complete Fables.
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The Complete Fables Summary & Study Guide Description

The Complete Fables Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Complete Fables by Aesop.

The name Aesop calls many images to mind. The mind's eye immediately sees a tortoise beating a hare in a race or a little boy who cries wolf to the vexation of his fellow villagers. This collection of fables asks the reader to put those children's stories from his or her mind. Morals, such as "haste makes waste" and "don't cry over spilled milk," do not exist in this world of Aesop. This collection is an academic look at the folklore creations credited to Aesop. Far from child-like moral lessons one would expect, these fables are mainly jokes and one-liners. The fables range from crude to witty to vulgar to wise.

The translators of these tales want the readers to know that the morals are not an original part of the fables. Orators trying to convince their audience of their point added morals later. This book is a compilation of 358 fables. The fables give voice to animals, inanimate objects and the gods as though it were an everyday occurrence. The wily fox outsmarts men and the tiny cicada outsmarts the fox in his turn. The gods answer appeals to the lowest forms of life and supply ironic punishments to the higher ones.

The fables themselves are more like jokes with punch lines than moral tales of ethics and wrongdoings. Littered with obscure puns, the notes save this work from confusion while adding more confusion to the provided moral. There are the recognized fables such as "The Tortoise and the Hare," and there are the more obscure ones like "The Raven and Hermes." Each tale has a singular wit that one associates with Aesop.

The book itself makes no definitive statements about who really authored the works. It only makes educated guesses regarding the origins of certain fables. Some tales have Aesop as a character rather than the author. Others contain ancient names for animals such as the chough or the jackdaw. Cowherds converse with wolves, and trees boast among themselves. Dogs make friends with roosters, and lions lose meals due to their own greed. Gods dole out punishments and get their own comeuppance at the hands of lesser beings.

There are also tales of creation. There are mythological tales of the gods creating men and animals for specific reasons. There are stories explaining the physiology of certain animals and the psychological make up of humans. Some of these are anecdotes, and others are jokes. Most of them have a moral attached, while others leave the moral for the reader to decide.

These are not the tales of childhood. These are jokes, one liners, crude stories and sometimes, moral entreaties.

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