David Haines: the Third Man


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President Barack Obama

United States President Barack Obama

It’s very early and I have not heard or read the latest news.

Yesterday, world leaders met in Paris to deal with the crisis in the Middle East. Fuad Masum, the President of Iraq, was in attendance. However, Bashar al-Assad, the President of Iran, did not join the group.

The Strikes

The strikes have not helped. Drones spare lives among the military, but civilians are at risk. Moreover, it appears that flying in elite commandos and a military escort would further endanger the lives of the detainees. All of them may be killed.


As for diplomacy, if Bashar al-Assad does not attend a meeting of world leaders, a diplomatic resolution may not be possible. Terrorists are not a country and there is no Islamic State.

A Slight Shift

The crisis has shifted, slightly. David Haines, a British aid worker was beheaded on 14 September 2014 and the man in black, left-handed “Jihadi John,” is preparing to slaughter Alan Henning, a 47-year-old British volunteer. Before he was beheaded, David Haines said that he was the victim of America’s allies. In other words, President Obama (G. W. Bush) and David Cameron (Tony Blair), the prime minister of the United Kingdom, were at fault. Who’s holding the knife?

“Jihadi John”

“Jihadi John” has now murdered 3 men in cold blood. He has therefore demonstrated that he is incapable of feeling remorse. I should think he can now be considered a demented terrorist attracting to the Middle East individuals like himself. Apparently, he has been identified, but how does one bring him to justice?


There is no Islamic State. Consequently, it would be my understanding that Bashar al-Assad is allowing squatters on his territory: Syria. To my knowledge Isis is killing journalists and aid workers in Syria. Is Syria not protecting its borders?

Criminals, not Muslims

I think it would be prudent not to look upon the terrorists as Muslims. That would be an insult to Islam and very wrong. Isis members are a group of criminals, and criminals are criminals. So far, the strikes have not deterred Isis and are unlikely to do so, which takes us back to a diplomatic resolution and to Bashar al-Assad. Inferno!

Adults, not quite: Fanatics

As my father would have said: “Let them sort it out among themselves. They’re adults.” Indeed, countries in the Middle East are quite capable of looking after themselves. However, these fanatical “adults” have hostages who will be slaughtered if the world does not negotiate their release. Moreover, there is a civil war in Syria. Adults?


We are now going back to our dogs and other beasts, real or imagined. There was a king Garamantes and a kingdom of Garamantia (see National Geographic). The king, his people (Berbers), and his valiant dogs—we are looking at medieval dogs—lived in southwestern Libya. Although the people of Garamantia had devised a sophisticated irrigation system, their territory turned into part of the Sahara desert.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dogs, a long time ago (12 September 2014)

There are websites dedicated to the Garamantes (see Temehu).

Garamante.3imagesGaramantes (Photo credit: Egypt Search, both)


© Micheline Walker
September 16, 2014

Dogs a long time ago


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Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511, Folio 25r

Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511, Folio 25r (Ashmole Bestiary)

Three elegant dogs stand ready. F 25r (folio 25 recto)


A bestiary is a compendium of beasts most of which have identical characteristics from bestiary to bestiary. In Europe, bestiaries are mostly a product of the Middle Ages, the 12th and 13th centuries in particular. Exceptionally beautiful are the Aberdeen Bestiary and the Ashmole Bestiary (MS 1462 & MS 1511), both dating back to the late 12th and early 13th century.

They are illuminated manuscripts and, in this regard, resemble books of hours. They therefore contain images complemented by superb calligraphy that could vary from bestiary to bestiary and, some of which, are ancestors to our “fonts.”

Bestiaries were usually transcribed by monks in a scriptorium, a recess in a wall, and were executed on vellum (calfskin) or parchment (calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin). Both the Aberdeen Bestiary and the Ashmole Bestiary MS 1462 (Bodleian Library) were written and “illuminated” on parchment. The Ashmole Bestiary MS 1511 (Bodleian Library) was executed on vellum.

Real and Legendary Animals

Not all animals described in bestiaries are real animals. The authors of natural histories often relied on information obtained from individuals who had travelled to the Orient or elsewhere. Thus was born the unicorn. The rhinoceros is a real animal that has one horn, but the unicorn, the monocerus in Greece, is a zoomorphic animal.

Zoomorphic animals combine the features of several beasts and may be part human and part beast. Such is the case with centaurs and the minotaur. The lower half of a centaur is a horse, the upper, a man. The minotaur’s body is human, but its head is that of a bull.

The Physiologus: the main Source

The best-known “natural history” is the Physiologus (“The Naturalist”), written in Greek in the 2nd century BCE. Authorship of the Physiologus has not been determined, but it was translated into Latin in about 700 CE, our era. It was the main source of information for persons who wrote and illuminated bestiaries.

The Physiologus described an animal, told an anecdote about that animal and then gave the animal moral attributes (See Physiologus, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia). In the Medieval Bestiary, the anecdote for dogs was “The Dog and Its Reflection.” Natural histories, however, made animals allegorical, rather than humans in disguise. The Physiologus is allegorical and emblematic, but in structure, it resembles the fable.

Professor Ziolkowski[i] writes that the

 fable consists of a narrative with a moral, Physiologus of nature observation with moralization.

The most famous copy of the Physiologus is the Bern Physiologus


In the case of dogs, the Medieval Bestiary (bestiaria.ca) describes the animal, tells an anecdote, the “Dog and Its Reflection,” and then informs readers that the dog is the most loyal of animals. The dog may be able to kill but, as the lore goes, it is man’s best friend and therefore emblematic of loyalty. We learn as well that the dog licks wound.

According to Pliny the Elder (23 BC – 25 August 79 BC), one of many authors of natural histories, “[t]he domestic animal that is most faithful to man is the dog.” The iconography, images, tells a similar story, but also shows us many greyhounds, as do 20th-century fashion illustrators.

The Gallery

So here are some pictures of faithful dogs who lived in the Middle Ages. The dog featured at the very bottom of this post is about to avenge his master’s murder, but is also a healer. The bestiary in which it is depicted is housed at the Royal Library in Copenhagen. It is an illumination (enluminures) executed on the front page, the folio, of a Bestiary. The front of the folio (the page) is called recto vs verso, the back.

  1. A pair of dogs, possibly greyhounds? F 48v (verso: back)

  2. Two dogs, possibly greyhounds or other hunting dogs. F 49r (recto: front)

  1. A dog refuses to leave the side of its dead master. F 12v

  2. King Garamantes, captured by his enemies, is rescued by has pack of dogs. f 30v

  3. At the top, a dog attacks the man who killed his master, thus pointing out the guilty. At the bottom, the faithful dog refuses to leave the body of its dead master. f 28R

  4. King Garametes, captured by his enemies, is rescued by his dogs. f 12r

Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, FR)
Bodleian Library (Oxford, UK)
British Library (London, UK)
Morgan Library (New York, US)
Royal Library (Copenhagen, DK) 

This is the description given dogs in the Medieval Bestiary

“Dogs are unable to live without men. There are several kinds of dogs: those that guard their master’s property; those that are useful for hunting wild animals or birds; and those that watch over sheep. A dog cures its own wounds by licking, and a young dog bound to a patient cures internal wounds. A dog will always return to its vomit. When a dog is swimming across a river while holding meat in its mouth, if it sees its own reflection it will drop the meat it is carrying while trying to get the meat it sees in the reflection.

Several stories are told about the actions of dogs. King Garamantes, captured by his enemies, was rescued by his dogs. When a man was murdered and there were no witnesses to say who did it, the man’s dog pointed out the slayer in the crowd. Jason‘s dog was said to have refused to eat and died of hunger after his master’s death. A Roman dog accompanied his master to prison, and when the man was executed and his body thrown into the Tiber River, the dog tried to hold up the corpse.

A dog that crosses a hyena‘s shadow will lose its voice.

Hungry dogs are used to pull up the deadly mandrake plant.” David Badke[ii]

(“Jason” and “Tiber River” are links I have added)


Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 151, Folio 21v

King Garamantes is kidnapped by enemies; the king’s dogs find him and attack the kidnappers; the king leads his dogs home. F 21v

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 18r

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 18r

A dog mourning the murder of its master, and possibly pointing out the murderer. F 18r, or

A young dog bound to a patient cures internal wounds


Sources and Resources


Kindest regards to all of you.


[i] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 34.

[ii] David Badke, The Medieval Bestiary (bestiary.ca) Web.

[iii] David Badke, The Medieval Bestiary (bestiary.ca) Web.


Arany Zoltán


© Micheline Walker
September 12, 2014

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 19r

La Fontaine’s “The Dog that dropped the Substance for the Shadow”


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The Dog and Its Reflection,  Arthur Rackham, illustration

The Dog and Its Reflection,
Arthur Rackham, illustrator (Gutenberg [EB #11339]

“The Dog that dropped the Substance for the Shadow” is an Æsopic fables. It is #133 in the Perry Index where it is entitled “The Dog and Its Image,” or “The Dog and Its Reflection.” We can trace it back to Phædrus and Babrius who committed to paper fables Æsop had told. Phædrus wrote in Latin and Babrius, in Greek. Later fabulists, European or western, drew their subject matter from these two sources.

There also existed an Eastern tradition of the same fables. According to the foreword, or avertissement, of a seventeenth-century French translation of Les Fables de Pilpay, Æsop, if there ever was an Æsop, seems to have lived in Greece, but was from the Levant.

les Grecs ont suivi les Orientaux; Je dis ‘suivi,’ puisque les Grecs confessent eux-mêmes qu’ils ont appris cette sorte d’érudition d’Esope, qui estoit Levantin.

“[T]he Greeks followed the Orientals; I say ‘follow,’ because the Greek themselves confess that they acquired this sort of knowledge [cette sorte d'érudition] from Æsop, who was from the Levant (Levantin). (See Les Fables de Pilpay philosophe indien, ou la conduite des roys, the Avertissement, p. 10 approximately). It is an online Google book. Pilpay is the story-teller in Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra.

According to one source, L’Astrée, a lenghty seventeenth-century pastoral novel, written by Honoré d’Urfé‘s (11 February 1568 – 1 June 1625), contains the following sentence: « Ce ne sont, dit Hylas, que les esprits peu sages qui courent après l’ombre du bien, et laissent le bien même. » (Hylas said that only silly minds run after the shadow of a possession leaving behind the possession itself). (See lafontainet.net.)

When Jean de La Fontaine (8 July 1621 – 13 April 1695) chose to rewrite an Æsopic fable, he often used a translation into Latin by Névelet, Mythologia Æsopica Isaaci Nicolai Neveleti, Francfort, 1610. (See lafontaine.net.)

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 3630, Folio 81r The Medieval Bestiary

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 3630, Folio 81r 
The Medieval Bestiary [i]

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 14429, Folio 112v

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 14429, Folio 112v, The Medieval Bestiary

Sources: East and West

West: Phædrus & Babrius
East: The Panchatantra (India), Kalīlah wa Dimna (various)

Given that this post features La Fontaine’s fable, I used the Musée de La Fontaine‘s translation. However, Æsop ‘s version of this fable is told in the Project Gutenberg’s [EB #11339] (V. S. Vernon Jones, trans., G. K. Chesterton, intro, and Arthur Rackham, ill.).

In all likelihood, Vernon Jones used Phædrus (Latin) or Babrius (Greek) as his source. He may also have used another re-teller’s translation of Phædrus and Babrius, the Western tradition.

However, Æsop also told fables belonging to a parallel Oriental tradition. “The Dog that dropped the Substance for the Shadow” was retold in Arabic by Persian Muslim scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’. His translation is entitled Kalīlah wa Dimna and dates back to 750 CE. Ibn al-Muqaffa’ used Borzōē‘s or Borzūya‘s Pahlavi‘s translation of the Sanskrit Panchatantra, 3rd century BCE, by Vishnu Sharma. (See Panchatantra – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) The Panchatantra is an online publication. (See Internet Archives.)

The Oral vs the Learned Tradition: literacy

It is therefore possible, perhaps probable, that Æsop, a story-teller whose fables were transmitted to Western Europe, used fables originating in an Eastern and “learned” tradition. The Eastern tradition may have been a “learned” tradition, i.e. written down fables, but the fables, animal fables, were told to people who may not have been able to read or write. Literacy is a key factor in the transmission of fables or tales. It would be my opinion that La Fontaine’s source, Névelet or Neveleti, used Phædrus or Phædrus retold by other fabulists who may have borrowed elements from Babrius.

A “Learned” Eastern Tradition

In other words, Æsop’s fables were probably transmitted to Western fabulists by Phædus and Babrius, but there is an eastern tradition, a parallel. When La Fontaine wrote his second collection (recueil) of fables, published in 1678, he had read G. Gaulmin’s Livre des lumières ou la conduite des roys (1644) (The Book of Lights or the Conduct of Kings). This book contains Pilpay’s fables. (See Panchatantra, Wikipedia.)

“A New Persian version from the 12th century became known as Kalīleh o Demneh  and this was the basis of Kashefi’s 15th century Anvār-e Soheylī (Persian: The Lights of Canopus). The book in different form is also known as The Fables of Bidpaï (or Pilpai, in various European languages) or The Morall Philosophie of Doni (English, 1570).” (See Panchatantra, Wikipedia)

Our fable is number 17 in La Fontaine’s sixth book of fables, published in 1668 (VI.17). It was written before La Fontaine read Le Livre des lumières, 1644, the fables of Bidpaï.

The Fables of Pilpay or Bidpaï

Le Livre des lumières = Fables de Pilpay
Hitopadesha: the conduct of kings
Æsop was from the Levant

Le Livre des lumières is a Google Book. By following the link Livre des lumières, one can see that the stories of Pilpay or Bidpaï, the story-teller in the Panchatantra or Pañcatantra (3rd BCE, perhaps earlier) are also used to teach a prince the conduct of kings. “The Panchatantra is a niti-shastra, or textbook of the niti. The word niti means roughly ‘the wise conduct of life’.” (The Panchatantra, Translator’s Introduction, p. 5).

The Panchatantra inspired a separate Hitopadesha, fables used to prepare a prince for his royal duties. As its title indicates, directions on the conduct of kings are included in the online Les Fables de Pilpay philosophe indien, ou la conduite des roys

La Fontaine’s fable reads as follows:

The Dog that dropped the Substance for the Shadow

This world is full of shadow-chasers,
Most easily deceived.
Should I enumerate these racers,
I should not be believed.
I send them all to Aesop’s dog,
Which, crossing water on a log,
Espied the meat he bore, below;
To seize its image, let it go;
Plunged in; to reach the shore was glad,
With neither what he hoped, nor what he’d had.

« Le Chien qui lâche sa proie pour l’ombre » 

Chacun se trompe ici-bas.
On voit courir après l’ombre
Tant de fous, qu’on n’en sait pas
La plupart du temps le nombre.
Au Chien dont parle Ésope il faut les renvoyer.
Ce Chien, voyant sa proie en l’eau représentée,
La quitta pour l’image, et pensa se noyer ;
La rivière devint tout d’un coup agitée.
À toute peine il regagna les bords,
Et n’eut ni l’ombre ni le corps.

Æsop’s “The Dog and the Shadow”

A Dog was crossing a plank bridge over a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, when he happened to see his own reflection in the water. He thought it was another dog with a piece of meat twice as big; so he let go his own, and flew at the other dog to get the larger piece. But, of course, all that happened was that he got neither; for one was only a shadow, and the other was carried away by the current. [EB #11339]

Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 18r The Medieval Bestiary

I have not found “The Dog and its Reflection,” in Les Fables de Pilpay, but Bidpaï wrote a similar story entitled “The Fox and a Piece of Meat.” However, “The Dog and its Reflection” is included in the Arabic Kalīlah wa Dimna.

“The Dog and its Reflection” was incorporated in the 12th-century Aberdeen Bestiary, an illuminated manuscript. (See The Medieval Bestiary, scroll down to Æsop’s Fables.)

In Britain, John Lydgate told this story in his Isopes Fabules. His moral was that “Who all coveteth, oft he loseth all.” The fable is also part of Geoffrey Whitney‘s (c. 1548 – c. 1601) Choice of Emblemes.[ii] Whitney’s moral is “to make use of moderate possessions,” Mediocribus utere partis. This story was told by several fabulists in many countries. (See The Dog and Its Reflection, Wikipedia.)

La Fontaine’s moral precedes the example and seems to differ from the moral provided by other fabulists. La Fontaine warns that one should not be deceived by appearances, a common moral in seventeenth-century France. However, La Fontaine ends his fable by writing that the dog reached the shore “[w]ith neither what he hoped, nor what he’d had.”


We tell the same stories, east and west, but terrorists in the Levant are killing innocent American journalists. I still hope for a diplomatic resolution to the current conflict. Further bloodshed is not necessary. President Obama is a man of peace, so I am confident that he will do what has to be done.

The oak tree is felled by a terrible wind, but the reed bends and survives.

However, that man who beheaded James Foley and Steven Sotloff in cold blood is a criminal.


Sources and Resources

[i] David BadkeThe Medieval Bestiary, Web
[ii] Whitney’s Choice of Emblemes, 39 (online: Choice of Emblemes (Google book)
Henry Purcell: Ground in C Minor; Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord – YouTube 
© Micheline Walker
September 10, 2014

Æsop & La Fontaine Online, and…


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Swans by Walter Crane

Swan, Rush and Iris, by Walter Crane (Art Nouveau)

Swan, Rush and Iris, by Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Bodycolour and Watercolour, England, 1875
© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Project Gutenberg
Internet Archives
Bestiaria Latina
Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia or Wikipedia
the Encyclopædia Britannica (online)

Internet Sources

I spent a lifetime in the classroom and wish to praise initiatives such as the Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archives. I didn’t have those precious tools. Æsop’s fables are available online, including lovely illustrations one can also use for to illustrate La Fontaine’s retelling of an Æsopic fable. As for Bestiaria Latina or mythfolklore.net, it is a rich and accurate source of information and also leads to texts. Needless to say, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia is an excellent and exhaustive source of information as is the monumental Encyclopædia Britannica.

I had prepared a long and informative article that contained a list of illustrators. There was a Golden Age of Illustration (1880 – 1920) and a Golden Age of Children’s Literature (see also Artcyclopedia and Pinterest). However, my post disappeared, with the exception of the earliest draft which, fortunately, contained a list of the e-texts I use most frequently. Posting that information will suffice.


In fact, I also lost a second post, in its entirety. It was about the Middle East. I still feel that no single nation should fight terrorism. It is a global threat. The terrorist who killed James Foley and Steven Sotloff is a Londoner.

There have been too many lives lost or destroyed since 9/11 and a former administration accrued a huge debt. Such ideologies as Manifest Destiny and Exceptionalism are flawed and they have led to unjustifiable meddling. Terrorists are not a nation; they’re a scourge. Therefore, the wars waged in the 2000s were catastrophic.

I wonder if releasing the prisoners detained at Guantanamo would help put an end to this nightmare? The journalists held in captivity must be rescued or more will die. I feel so sorry for the families, friends and colleagues of these victims.

Having written the above, I trust President Obama and so do most world leaders. He has earned their respect and their admiration. I should add that Americans elected him to the presidency of their country, the United States of America.

This is a very short post, but I do wish all of you an excellent week.


The Project Gutenberg Collection


* Could John Rae (ill.) be John Rae Neill (ill.) (12 November 1877 – 19 September 1943)?

La Fontaine, Jean de (1621 – 1695)

For La Fontaine, my favourite site is the Musée Jean de La Fontaine. It is La Fontaine’s official and bilingual (French-English) internet site.

La Fontaine wrote many Æsopic fables, so illustrations inspired by Æsop’s fables may also be used to illustrate La Fontaine’s retelling of fable by Æsop.

On the Market

The video features Walter Crane’s illustrations of fairy tales rather than fables, but the two genres are related.

Milo Winter

Milo Winter (Photo credit: Gutenberg #19994)

© Micheline Walker
September 7, 2014

The Æsop for Children

Aesop’s “The Boy Bathing”


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The Boy Bathing Arthur Rackham (Photo credit: [EBook #11339]

The Boy Bathing, V. S. Vernon Jones (translator), G. K. Chesterton (introduction) Arthur Rackham (illustrator), 1912 (Photo credit: Gutenberg [EBook #11339])

The Boy Bathing

A Boy was bathing in a river and got out of his depth, and was in great danger of being drowned. A man who was passing along a road heard his cries for help, and went to the riverside and began to scold him for being so careless as to get into deep water, but made no attempt to help him. “Oh, sir,” cried the Boy, “please help me first and scold me afterwards.”

Give assistance, not advice, in a crisis.

The Boy Bathing

A BOY bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. ‘Oh, sir!’ cried the youth, ‘pray help me now and scold me afterwards.’

Counsel without help is useless.


The Boy Bathing, G. F. Townsend, translator, Harrison Weir, illustrator, 1867 (Photo credit: Gutenberg [EBook #21])

Æsop’s Fables : c. 620 – 564 BCE

Æsop (c. 620 – 564 BCE)
Phædrus (c. 15 BC – c. 50 CE)
Babrius (c. 2nd century CE)

Fables[i] are a source of wisdom and La Fontaine‘s, little jewels. There are several sources of fables, but the above, A Boy Bathing is an Æsopic or Æsopian fable retold by translators of Phædrus (Latin) and Babrius (Greek). Babrius, however, was a Roman.

Æsop, assuming there was an Æsop, was a freed Greek slave who did not write fables. We do not have a manuscript of Æsop’s fables. The fables told by Æsop were therefore transmitted through an oral tradition. They were not written down until Phædrus and Babrius committed them to paper in Latin and in Greek, at which point they entered the learned tradition.[ii]

Doubt lingers as to whether or not there ever lived an Æsop. La Fontaine wrote a life of Æsop and so did other writers. In the case of La Fontaine, writing a biography of Æsop was a way of negating authorship of his own fables.

Under Louis XIV, a friend of Nicolas Fouquet could not chronicle the excesses of his century in a direct manner. To protect himself, La Fontaine borrowed the subject matter of fables and usually featured anthropomorphic animals, humans in disguise. Never would Louis XIV, Sun King, have suggested that he was the lion king of La Fontaine’s Fables.

Ben Edwin Perry (1892–1968) : the Perry Index

There may not have been an Æsop, but there is a body of fables called Æsopic or Æsopian. An index of Æsopic fables was compiled by Ben Edwin Perry (1892 – 1968), a teacher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 1924 to 1960.

The Wikipedia entry on the Perry Index lists 584 fables, but Wikipedia provides a list of “extended,” fabulists (585, etc.), three of whom are Paulus Diaconus (Paul the Deacon; c. 720s – 13 April probably 799), Odo of Cheriton (c. 1185 – 1246/47), and Romulus FR. 

Characteristics of Fables

  • they usually feature talking animals;
  • in ancient Greece, fables that featured animals were called Æsopic and those that featured humans, Sybaritic;
  • for Isidore of Seville, fables were Æsopic (animals [souls], or “cities, trees, mountains, rocks, and rivers” [no souls]) or Libystic, “Libystic fables are those in which there is a verbal interchange of men with animals or animals with men.”[iii]
  • fables are an example, but there is a genre called Exemplum;
  • the example is the story. Humans remember stories because they illustrate. We are reminded of illuminated manuscripts;
  • the animals used in fables are anthropomorphic. They are humans in disguise, as animals;
  • anthropomorphism both shows and hides human behaviour;
  • children may think that the animals are quite foolish and believe that the manner in which they behave is just fine;
  • many authors have written fables but are not known as fabulists;
  • beast literature overrides genres; &c


I have posted a complete list of the fables discussed on this blog, but there is so much more to say. Fables are very complex and may have several morals.

I must close, but not without saying that I am so sorry we lost Steven Sotloff. His poor family! Next, they will kill a British citizen.

My kindest regards to all of you.


Sources and Resources


[i] “fable.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 04 Sep. 2014. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/199714/fable>.

[ii] Ben Edwin Perry, translator, Babrius and Phædrus, Fables (Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library 436, 1965). (scroll down a little)

[iii] Jan M. ZiolkowskiTalking Animals, Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 18 -19.


Bach / Marcello Adagio – Concerto in D minor

Sensitiva, Miquel  Blay

Sensitiva, Miquel

© Micheline Walker
September 4, 2014

La Fontaine’s Fables Compiled & Walter Crane, 2nd Edition


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The Baby’s Own Æsop, illustrated by Walter Crane  (London, New York: Routledge, 1887)
Photo credit: http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/crane/
Crane’s interest in Japanese art is evident in this 1874 cover of a 
toy book, printed by Edmund Evans
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Illustrator: Walter Crane

I have endeavoured to collect all my posts on Jean de La Fontaine (8 July 1621 – 13 April 1695), most of which are also discussions of Æsop‘s FablesWe have now discussed many fables by La Fontaine and ÆsopMy list may therefore be incomplete.

The ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration

The illustrations shown in this post are by Walter Crane (1845–1915) who illustrated Æsop‘s Fables adapted for children. Crane lived during the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration. His contemporaries were Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, Arthur Rackham, Sir John Tenniel (Alice in Wonderland), and other celebrated illustrators. (See The Golden Age of Illustration.)

Japonism of Toy Books

Crane was influenced by Japonisme: ukiyo-e prints. In England, Japonism was called the Anglo-Japanese Style. The Alphabet of Old Friends, shown above, one of Crane’s toy books, is an example of Japonism both from the point of view of subject matter (e.g. the heron or crane, the oranges) and style: flat colours, etc.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts Movement

The Healthy and Artistic Dress Union

However, Crane is usually associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (middle of 19th century) and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1860 and 1910), movements that incorporated the decorative arts and design. William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896), a leading member of both movements, designed wallpaper and tiles.  Interestingly, Walter Crane designed not only wallpaper, etc., but clothes for women, looser-fitting clothes. He was in fact a Vice President of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union. This, I would not have suspected.

At first sight, Walter Crane’s moral for the “Fox and the Grapes” seems rather negative, if one focuses on the word disappointment: “The grapes of disappointment are always sour.” However, this moral may serve to lessen cognitive dissonance, if the grapes are deemed sour. Since Æsop‘s Fables are for anyone to retell, morals may differ from author to author.

La Fontaine’s illustrators

Walter Crane was a fine artist. He is the creator of “Neptune’s Horses,” an artwork that is somewhat reminiscent of Hokusai‘s Great Wave off Kanagawa. “Neptune’s Horses” is featured at the very bottom of this post. However, although Crane illustrated Æsop‘s Fables, and, by extension, some of La Fontaine’s Æsopic fables, the most famous illustrators of La Fontaine’s Fables are Jean-Baptiste Oudry, François  ChauveauJean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville, Gustave Doré, and others, some of whom I have already mentioned and some I will mention in future posts.

The Video

YouTube has a lovely video featuring Walter Crane’s art.  However, it does not show his illustrations of fables.  It does not fully belong to this post.  The music is Franz Schubert‘s (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) Ständchen, D. 957.

FABLES by Jean de La Fontaine (& Æsop)
(listed in alphabetical order: Boy, Cat, Cock, Fox…


The following list is mostly alphabetical (cha, che, coq, bel). It simply provides the title La Fontaine gave to his Fables. My post are written in English. Sometimes the fable is named in both French and English. They are listed as book (of XII [12]) and number (XII.14)


Franz Schubert: Ständchen, D. 957

Crane© Micheline Walker
September 24, 2013 
Neptune’s Horses, Walter Crane, ill., 1892
Photo credit: Google Images
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

The Middle East: Inferno


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President Obama

President Obama

On Friday, I wrote a post that I did not publish. It was about the systematic obstructionism and scapegoating Barack Obama has faced from the moment he was elected to the presidency of the United States. The word systematic is my keyword. Extremists Republicans seem to have gathered to plan President Obama’s demise. The post I wrote will no be published because we know that whatever goes wrong, it’s always the President’s fault or the fault of his administration.

We also know that the main motivation on the part of Congress is avoidance of taxation. Taxes are the “the freedom we surrender” to live in safety. (The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes, 1651) and safety includes the creation of social programmes. Responsible citizens do not invite a government shutdown costing billions simply to ensure they get tax cuts, which is unlikely to be the case if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act survives constant attacks. I believe it’s there to stay.

Dante is lost in Canto 1 of the Inferno. Gustave Doré

Dante is lost in Canto 1 of the Inferno.
Gustave Doré

The President Hesitated

First, yes the President Obama hesitated.

Having said the above, let’s look at inferno: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis). 


Yes, there was an attempt to save journalist James Foley, but President Obama hesitated before entering Syria and he did so for good reasons. He was attempting to rescue Jim Foley, but entering a sovereign nation can be interpreted as an act of war and invite retaliation. I realize that there are air strikes as I write and that the U.S. is protecting agencies dropping food to victims of Isil, but, unfortunately, intervention can be perceived as interference.

It would appear James Foley was executed on 19 August 2014, in the Syro-Arabian desert, by a terrorist who has been identified as a Londoner. But there may have been two executioners.

In other words, no sooner was Osama bin Laden found and killed, that terrorists regrouped and named themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), or Is, which is extremely alarming. One thinks terrorism is over, just as the war is over, but a new breed of terrorists emerges and, although there are no boots on the ground, “[a]fter a strike, one can expect anything.” Our new terrorists are rebels without a cause who are accepted by Isil, as though flesh alone a terrorist made.

Dante's Inferno, Plate 22 Hoarders and Wasters, Gustave Doré

Dante’s Inferno, Plate 22
Hoarders and Wasters,
Gustave Doré

“We don’t have a strategy yet”

Second, the President said: “We don’t have a strategy yet.” I watched CNN and happened to hear high-ranking military personnel comment on President Obama’s so-called “gaffe.” They explained that devising a strategy can take a very long time, but also said that the U.S. is prepared to face attackers. After the horrific attacks of 9/11, the U.S. has got tougher. In short, the Pentagon is ready.

However, because of its current debt, the U.S. cannot afford to spend $7.5 m a day on its operation in the Middle East. There have been 100 strikes and the Republicans in Congress would like the United States to adopt a more “aggressive strategy.”

“Republicans in Congress have led calls for a more aggressive strategy against Isis, beyond the strikes which the Obama administration has confined to the north of Iraq, around the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil and the Mosul dam.” (The Guardian)


Suing the President

Given that Mr Boehner, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is suing the President, can advice on his part or on the part of extremist Republicans in Congress be taken seriously. The lawsuit will cost taxpayers $500 an hour. Barack Obama is the duly elected President of the United States of America. That does not confer upon him “divine rights,”[i] but it has earned him a degree of respect that he also fully deserves. Suing the President has seriously jeopardized Mr. Boehner’s credibility as well as the credibility of like-minded members of the Republican Party. Mr. Boehner has provided little, if any, evidence that he is a statesman.


I realize that the U.S. is not acting as a single nation and I am aware that agencies dropping food, water and other supplies to a beleaguered people require protection. However, if the conflict escalates I fully expect Mr. Boehner to blame the President. Moreover, if the U.S. adopts a more aggressive strategy, more money will be spent and the Republicans in Congress will also blame President Obama.

London Counts on Safe-Haven Appeal…


If matters degenerate, there may be a few happy individuals, people such as CIT in London, England. They are building or have built a perfect safe-haven for the very rich who may need to escape turmoil.

Given the amount of money these refugees are willing to pay and can pay for a safe-haven, not only are London “developers” hoping to rescue enormously wealthy customers from the Middle East, but apartments have already been sold to wealthy customers in Vancouver and Toronto at prices only royalty can pay. Besides, two save-havens are better than one.

Releasing the Prisoners

I would like the prisoners Isis has captured to be released and for all endangered Americans or foreigners to be pulled out of inferno as soon as possible, if it is possible. However, Isil terrorists are asking for exorbitant ransoms the United States will not pay.

Strikes are very dangerous and one cannot defeat sectarianism. Inferno!

My kindest regards to all of you.



[i] “divine right of kings.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/166626/divine-right-of-kings>.


GF Händel (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759)
Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia
Suite No. 9 in G Minor
Sviatoslav Richter (20 March 1915 – 1 August 1997)
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement from Martha's Vineyard
© Micheline Walker
August 31, 2014

James Foley: Tragic Events


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 James Foley.s Murder: the Real Issues

James Foley (Photo credit: Reuters)

James Foley

Tragic events have kept me away from my computer for several days. American journalist James Foley was beheaded in cold blood by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a terrorist organisation masquerading as a nation. It appears ISIS is now preparing to murder Steven Sotloff.

I agree with Pope Francis that “it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.” The following is the Pope’s complete statement:

“18 August: Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, said that the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq. He also said that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.” (See Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)

The killer, or one of the killers, has a British accent. It appears he is a Londoner. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is therefore taking matters very seriously. It seems the alleged executioner, or one of the alleged executioners, has been identified, but revealing his identity before he is in custody would be a breach of security.

Mr. Foley’s killer(s) will be brought to justice. I should note that since Barack Obama became President of the United States, the United States has seldom had better allies.

I hope that no single nation retaliate. Terrorism is not a nation. It could be the terrorists might enjoy generating a war. The US and its allies have élite commandos they can deploy. That’s how Bin Laden was found and killed. The terrorists must, of course, release the journalists they have captured.

Michael Brown

Also tragic and disturbing is the shooting death of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. The matter is still under investigation, which prevents conclusive statements. (See Shooting of Michael Brown, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia.)

Racism, if it was racism, can be curbed considerably through proper education. We underestimate the role of good teachers in this regard.

I extend my condolences to James Foley’s family and friends and wish to tell them how sorry I am for their loss. Nothing is more painful than the death of a child, whatever his or her age.

I also extend my sincere condolences to Michael Brown’s family and friends.


My kindest regards to all of you.


— La Guirlande de Julie (Photo credit: BnF)

Marc-André Hamelin plays Mozart

President Obama
President Obama (Reuters)
© Micheline Walker
August 28, 2014

Ginette Neveu: the Exceptionally Gifted


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Ginette Neveu

Ginette Neveu (Photo credit: Google images)

In an earlier post on Barbier’s Fêtes galantes, I noted that virtuoso violinist Ginette Neveu (11 August 1919 – 28 October 1949) was a victim of the Air France Lockheed Constellation crash of 28 October 1949, in the Azores. The crash also claimed the life of 68 year-old illustrator and designer Bernard Boutet de Monvel, of the Monvel dynasty, as well as that of 33 year-old world champion boxer Marcel Cerdan, Édith Piaf‘s lover. Also killed on the island of São Miguel was classical pianist Jean Neveu, Ginette’s brother and accompanist. The Neveu family must have been devastated.

Ginette: a child prodigy

Ginette Neveu was 7 when she started giving public performances. By that age, she had mastered Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto (Op. 64). In 1935, shortly after she turned 16, Ginette’s teacher entered her in the Wieniawsky Competition in Warsaw and she won over David Oistrakh (30 September 1908 – 24 October 1974) who was then 27 and an acclaimed violinist. It is difficult to say that Mr. Oistrakh lost to Ginette Neveu. There were 180 contestants and he came second. But more importantly Ginette was a child prodigy, so it is as though she belonged to a different category.

It does not happen very often, only a few times in a century, and sometimes in a millennium, but, occasionally, an exceptionally gifted individual is born who cannot be surpassed in his or her category and in his days. Only Beethoven could compose the Ninth Symphony and no one has equalled Mozart’s Requiem, K (Köchel) 626.

Not that we are about to run out of talents. Over the years, there have been hundreds of great composers, artists, performers, comedians, scientists, writers, architects, athletes, inventors, and very good human beings. Yet certain individuals are unlikely to be surpassed. Steve Jobs was one such individual, and so was Ginette Neveu.

It seems, however, that the greater the talent, the more fragile and vulnerable the writer, the composer, the performer, the artist, the scientist and my “good” human being…  Fate took Ginette Neveu away from us at a very early age and, on 11 August 2014, we lost Robin Williams. In his category and in his days, I don’t think Mr. Williams could be surpassed, no more than Charlie Chaplin, in his category and in his days. Moreover, Robin Williams was a good human being. He will be missed.

At any rate, I have inserted, once again, Ginette Neveu’s interpretation of Maurice Ravel‘s Tzigane. It is remarkable.

My kindest regards to all of you.

P. S. I am trying to configure my webpage. I have been posting articles for three years and have yet to learn how to insert a picture in my sidebar. In other words, I am not a very gifted individual.

Sensitiva, Miquel  Blay

Sensitiva, Miquel Blay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Ginette Neveu plays Ravel’s Tzigane

Hendrickje Sleeping, Rembrandt Photo credit: Wikipaintings
Hendrickje Sleeping, Rembrandt, drawing (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)
© Micheline Walker
21 August 2014 

Leo Rauth: Images


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La Belle Otéro, Leo Rauth, 1910

La Belle Otéro, Leo Rauth, 1910


Ruth St. Denis, Schlangentanz, Leo Rauth

All I can send you today are these images by Leo Rauth (1884 – 1913). They feature dancers one of whom is American modern dance “pioneer” (Wikipedia), Ruth St. Denis  (20 January 1879 – 21 July 1968), shown above performing a “snake dance,” without the snake. They also feature la Belle Otéro (4 November 1868 – 12 April 1965).  (Wikipedia)

Leo Rauth also designed rather “poetical” clothes.

I found a lovely piece of music by Oswin Haas.





Fashion Design, Leo Rauth (Photo credit: Google images)

This may be one of my shortest posts, but I wanted to show more artworks by Rauth, who did a number of pochoirs. But more importantly, I wanted to keep in touch and send everyone my best regards.

 La Valse contente (The Happy Waltz)
“Piano Album With A Smile 2″: original easy to medium pieces from Oswin Haas.


© Micheline Walker
August 18, 2014

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