I wasn’t at my computer this week. However, I have published a page entitled Beast literature. It contains a list of most of the posts I have written on Beast fables, but not the fables themselves. These are listed on a separate page.
Missing is a post about the various naturalists whose descriptions were used to tell about animals. Herodotus was the first to describe animals, but most fabulists and naturalists used a book entitled the Physiologusto obtain the information they required.
I will post this short note and will return to my normal activities as soon as I feel better.
Two days ago, London was attacked. Britain’s Magna Carta and its Parliament are symbols of democracy.
At times, such events can be expected. Why did the attacker convert to Islam? Why did he become radicalized? We will never know, but he may have felt rejected. How else does one feel when US President Donald Trump bans Muslims from entering the United States? The attacker committed a horrible crime, but why?
Canada’s anti-Islamophobia motion
Yesterday, the Canadian government passed an anti-Islamophobia motion. The vote was not unanimous. The problem may be with the term. But Muslims are being denied access to the United States which may explain the choice of the term Islamophobia. Many Canadians are afraid, but I believe our new Canadians: Muslims, Syrians, Iraqis, Armenians, Afghans, Syriacs and Yazidis, will be fine citizens, which will reassure everyone. A few members of Parliament voted against the motion, but it was passed. Migrants and survivors of a genocide who might perish, such as the Yazidis, should be given a home.
I am creating a page listing my posts on Beast literature. I retrieved most of the posts on this subject. If one has no list, one is lost. New posts will be written, but I would prefer not to be too repetitive.
I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of the dead and wounded.
Let me take you back to the darkest, yet not so dark, early middle ages, or, to be precise, the three or four centuries preceding the first millennium. This period of history is often referred to as the monastic age. Monks copied books by hand in various scriptoria, indentations in the walls of monasteries, or an actual room, a scriptorium, ensuring the survival of the many masterpieces of antiquity and the dissemination of more recent works.
Interestingly, as monks kept alive the literature of antiquity, including Hesiod (8th century BCE) and Horace (8 December 65 BCE – 27 November 8 BCE), beast fables became a source of entertainment for copyists who not only copied these poems and reworked them, but who also created beast fables of their own. Anthropomorphism (talking animals) was an effective way of speaking anonymously, a satirist’s delight. Among beast fables, two tellings of the Sick-Lion tale would lead to Nivardus of Ghent’s 12th-century Ysengrimus and to the Roman de Renart, written in Roman, the vernacular, by Pierre de Saint-Cloudand other authors.
St. Benedict delivering his rule to the monks of his order, Monastery of St. Gilles, Nïmes, France, 1129 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paul the Deacon(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum fama fuit
The Sick-Lion tale, entitled The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox in Vernon Jones’s translation would be an inspiration to two authors. The first is Paul the Deacon, or Paulus Diaconus (720s – 13 April 799 CE), a Benedictine monk, a scribe, the renowned historian of the Lombards, and the author of the Ægrum fama fuit,Once upon a time, a fable identified by its first words.
Professor Jan M. Ziolkowski translated the first words of Paulus Diaconus’ Ægrum fama fuit as follows:
“Once upon a time there was a report that the lion had lain ill and that he had already reached almost his final days.”
Yet the title of Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum fama fuit is also “Leo æger, vulpis et ursus” (The sick lion, the fox, and the bear), which could be the title 1st-century Roman fabulist Phædrus gave his Sick-Lion tale when he put into written form his collection of Æsopic fables. George Fyler Townsend translated his beast fable as “The Lion, the Fox and the Wolf,” which would be consistent with his view that the “Fox should be always cunning, the Hare timid, the Lion bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse proud, and the Ass patient.” (Preface [EBook #21]). It was Townsend’s opinion that beasts should be stock characters. George Fyler Townsend’s translation of Æsopic fables is the Gutenberg project publication [EBook #21].
Also culminating in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart is the anonymous 11th-century Ecbasis captivi, a beast tale containing an inner tale. The outer fable is about the escape of a certain captive, a calf, and the inner fable is the Sick-Lion tale. The two narratives are linked because the calf escapes when the flayed wolf/bear shows himself, catching everyone’s attention. So, how did the Wolf / Bear lose his coat?
The Sick-Lion tale
Here is our tale. A sick lion, believing one could cure old age, called various doctors asking for a remedy. The Lion and the Wolf arrived promptly, but the Fox, suspecting that the Wolf / Bear was doing him in (lui faisait son affaire), went to Court concealed and quiet, “clos et cloi.” He heard the Wolf / Bear planning his demise. The Wolf / Bear told the Lion that the Fox wasn’t at Court: treason! At the Lion’s bedtime, the king demanded that the Fox / Bear be smoked out of his home (sa demeure) and brought to court.
When the Fox arrived at Court, he told the king that he feared someone was lying about him and scorning him. He explained that he had been on a pilgrimage: “mais j’étais en pèlerinage[,]” (but I was on a pilgrimage), and claimed he was dutifully praying for the Lion, as he had vowed. He also said that he had sought experts and told them to what extent the ailing Lion was suffering. The Lion lacked warmth, said the experts. That was the Lion’s problem! In order to cure the lion, one had to wrap him up in the skin of a Wolf/ Bear whose description fit the Wolf Ysengrin / Isengrin. Given the lion’s age, wrapping him up did help him. The Lion recovered and “courtiers sing songs comparing the Lion’s suffering to the passion of Jesus Christ, and the fox supplants the wolf as regent.” (See Ecbasis captivi, Wikipedia.) The flayed Wolf’s coat, or the Bear’s coat, would be the Lion’s dressing gown (sa robe de chambre).
My favourite version of the Sick-Lion tale is Paul the Deacon’s. The Fox arrives at the Lion’s Court carrying a bag filled with the many shoes he has worn out, searching for a cure.
“Beware you courtiers, lest you gain,
By slander’s arts, less power than pain;
For in the world where we are living,
A pardon no one thinks of giving.”
Reynard’s Triumph. Scene from the famous medieval fable “Reynard the Fox” (10th canto). Hand-colored steel engraving after a drawing by Heinrich Leutemann (German painter, 1824 – 1905) from the book “Reineke Fuchs (Reynard the Fox)” by Julius Eduard Hartmann (after the medieval poem). Published by Albert Henry Payne, Leipzig and Dresden, 1st edition, c. 1855
In Beast fables, irony is our primary figure of speech. Talking animals do not talk despite their eloquence. Their inability to talk, except “en son langage” (La Fontaine), allows them to say what they haven’t said. In fact, the anthropomorphic Ecbasis captivi is all the more eloquent since the Beast poem is also a fable within a fable, as are Vishnu Sharma’s Sanskrit Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah, its Arabic reworking by Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’.
In short, these Beast fables are all the more ironic because the animal world is a world upside down. The Fox is a regent the Wolf / Bear wants to vilify. La Fontaine’s epimythium refers to courtiers. These are courtiers who should inhabit the basse-cour, the barnyard, called lower court, where farmers keep hens and chickens. Anthropomorphism has clever twists.
Another reversal is the farcical “trompeur trompé,” the deceiver deceived. The Wolf attempts to elevate himself to the fox’ rank, that of regent, but circumstances, the Fox, damn him, Let us note, moreover, that the Ecbasis captiviis written inhexameters with Leonine internal rhyme. (See Ecbasis captivi, Wikipedia.) The author of the Ecbasis writes well,but the tale is about animals. That discrepancy is another source of irony, comic irony.
Therefore, although the Sick-Lion tale prefigures the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart, the weight of tradition is such that the medieval bestiary does not deprive the Lion, the Wolf and the Fox of their function, at least not altogether. The citizens of the medieval bestiary do not talk. They are allegorical. The Lion is king and the Fox, wily. Yet, the Roman the Renart, a masterpiece of medieval literature, has been described as a fabliau, which is, to a large extent, grotesque literature. Fabliaux are not literature for children and most misericords are repulsive. The progeny of the Sick-Lion tale, the Roman de Renart in particular, could be seen as the underside of the Roman de la Rose, “courtly” literature.
There is more to discuss, such as fox doctors and the Christian spirit of the Ecbasis captivi, but I will comment no further.
Beast fables have been told or written since the dawn of times and in various societies. The same is true of beast epics, that may be called Beast fables. Ironically, colonialism, one of the darker moments in the history of mankind, led to the discovery of some of the world’s most fundamental texts. Many of these were discovered during the British Raj and many were beast fables, such as the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha.Scholars learned Sanskrit and translated the masterpieces of India. The Bahgavad Gita, which is not a beast fable, was translated into English by Sir Charles Wilkins. Itwas Mahatma Ghandi‘s “spiritual dictionary.” (See Bahgavad Gita, Wikipedia.)
However, beast literature begins with Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra. Recent scholarship has situated the creation of the Panchatantra between 1,200 BCE and the 3rd century BCE. Given that the Panchatantra is probably rooted in an extremely old oral tradition, I doubt that it was written before the 3rd century BCE. The Panchatantra‘s sage is Bidpai or Pilpay and the purpose of the Panchatantra is the education of the prince, or worldly wisdom. These books are referred to as mirrors for princes. Seventeenth-century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine used eleven tales Panchatantra tales were used by 17th-century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine.
The best-known Arabic analog of the Panchatantra is the work of Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa’. His translation and adaptation of the Panchatantra (meaning: five books) is entitled Kalīlah wa Dimnah, dated 750 CE. Other earlier translations or analogs were published, one of which is Borzūya‘s Middle Persian (Pahlavi) Kalīlah wa Dimnah, dated 570 CE. That translation is lost. Vishnu Sharma’s Panchatantra also inspired the Hitopadesha, a text where beasts and animals interact. It was translated into English by Charles Wilkins. The sage in the Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah is Bidpai, or Pilpay. French Orientalist G. Gaulmin‘s Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys was published in 1644, several years after The Morall Philosophie of Doni (English, 1570). Both books were the Fables of Pidpai. (See Panchatantra and Anton Francesco Doni, Wikipedia.)
La Fontaine’s source, however, was 17th-century French Orientalist Gilbert Gaulmin, the author of the Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys (The Book of Lights or the Conduct of Kings).(See Panchatantra, Wikipedia.) La Fontaine’s first collection of fables reflects Æsop. But his second collection (books 7 to 11), published in 1778, was influencedby Orientalist Gilbert Gaulmin’s 1644 Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys. La Fontaine acknowledges indebtness to Pilpay: “Seulement, je dirai par reconnaissance que j’en dois la plus grande partie à Pilpay, sage Indien” (Only, out to gratitude, I will say that I owe most of my fables to Pilpay, an Indian sage” (Avertissement. II.7).
The Oral and the Learned Tradition
I wrote about the “oral tradition” elsewhere and mentioned it above. Æsop’s fables were transmitted orally from generation to generation, as would be the case with the Sanskrit Panchatantra. Æsop’s fables did not enter literature until Latin author Phædrus, who lived in the 1st century CE, published a written collection of Æsop’s fables, as did the Greek-speaking author Babrius (2nd century CE). Once Æsop’s fables were in written form, they had entered a “learned” tradition, but could nevertheless be retold, just as fairy tales could be retold.
La Fontaine’s sources
Several collections of Æsop’s Fables were based on either Phaedrus or Babrius or both. Jean de La Fontaine used a 1610 Latin collection of Æsop‘s Fables, entitled Mythologia Æsopica, put together by Isaac Nicolas Nevelet. However, before publishing his second collection of fables, in 1678, which contains L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins (The Bear and the Gardener), La Fontaine had become familiar with Gilbert Gaulmin 1644 Le Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des roys, a collection of Bidpai’s fables (Pilpay)can be read it is entirety by clicking on the link (Gallica BnF). Bidpai is a sage whose fables were learned by future kings. He is the sage in the Sanskrit Panchatantra and Persian (Arabic) Kalīlah wa Dimna. His wisdom is worldly wisdom, as noted above.
The Panchatantra. An illustration from a Syrian edition dated 1354. The rabbit fools the elephant king by showing him the reflection of the moon (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)
Æsop, Æsopic & Æsopian
Æsopic, Lybistic & Sybaritic
In recent years, much has been written about fables and beast epics. As a result, scholars now point to differences between Æsop’s fables. The term Æsopian refers to an oblique language. It was first used by Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (27 January 1826 – 10 May 1889). As for Æsopic, it may refer to Æsop’s fables. One can speak of Æsopic fables.
Æsopic however has another meaning. It refers to fables that feature animals only. Fables that mix animals and human beings, such as La Fontaine’s L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins, and Æsop’s “The Bald Man and the Fly,” are called Libystic. In ancient Greece, if a fable’s dramatis personae were humans only, the fable was called Sybaritic.
Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636), an eminent Father of the Church and the author of Etymologiae (origins), divided fables into Æsopic (animals) and Libystic (beasts and human beings). Isidore’s Etymologiae could be considered an aetiological text consistent with the teachings of the Church.
Fables are either Æsopic or Libystic. Æsopic fables are those in which dumb animals are imagined to have spoken with each other, or in which the speakers are things which have no soul, as cities, trees, mountains, rocks, and rivers. In contrast, Libystic fables are those in which there is verbal interchange of men with animals with men. (Etymologiae 1.40.2) 
The consensus, however, is that fables are inhabited mainly by talking animals whose words may be dismissed, but have nevertheless been heard. The Church took an interest in the origins of animals. There had to be a Christian account of the creation of animals, so members of the clergy were at times naturalists. All animals had been put aboard Noah’s Ark but, in children’s literature, the Hebrew/Christian Unicorn missed the boat.
Animals belonging to the Medieval Bestiary are allegorical. They are not talking animals, except “en son langage.” They are allegorical rather than anthropomorphic animals.
Physiologus, Adam nomme les animaux (Adam names the animals) Cambrai, vers 1270-1275 Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 711, fol. 17 (Photo credit:BnF) (click)
The Components of a Fable
The fable is a story, an exemplum, andthe moral is the distinguishing element of fables. The moral may be an epimythium and follow the example, or story. It may alsoprecede the story, in which case it is called the promythium. However, some fables do not have a moral, except the exemplum itself. Finally, one can give a fable a moral other than the moral ascribed by the fabulist.
Love to everyone ♥ ____________________
 See a review of Sir Charles North‘s The Morall Philosophy of Doni (Project Muse, University of Toronto.)
 Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 18-19.
Animals in literature are, for the most part, humans in disguise, or anthropomorphic. As Jan M. Ziolkowski writes, “beasts override genre.”Fables and fairy tales are genres, but beast literature is not.
Fables and Beast Epics
However, although beasts override genre, speaking animals are associated first with fables, such as Æsop’s Fables and Jean de La Fontaine’s, and, second, with beast epics, such as Reynard the Fox, or Le Roman de Renart, which narrows a much broader area of knowledge. Anthropomorphic animals are humans in disguise. In the Roman de Renart,all animalshave a name. In fact, Renart was so popular that foxes ceased to be called goupils in French. They became renards. Reynard the Fox is entitled Le Roman de Renart, where renard is spelled with a “t.”Renart is a trickster whose nemesis is the wolf named Ysengrin.
Le Roman de Renart, a French beast epic, is rooted in the Ysengrimus, a lengthy Latin mock-epic: 6,574 lines of elegiac couplets, written in 1148-1149 and attributed to Nivardus of Ghent. In the Isengrimus, Renart is Reinardus and will become the most famous and beloved animal in European beast literature. Renard is the fox of the “Fox and Crow” and other “fox” fables. In fact, the Roman de Renart, the first “branches” of which were written in the late twelfth century by Pierre de Saint-Cloud, is an outer fable containing inner fables (Ausserfabel and Innerfabeln), including Æsopic fables.Æsopic fables preceded the Roman de Renart by a more than a thousand years.
“dire sans dire”
The main characteristic of anthropomorphic animals is their ability to speak a human language. Animals are very useful to writers because, when all said and done, animals have not said a thing. Jean de La Fontaine’s (1621-1695) fables have been described as a “dire-sans-dire” (to say without saying). They are “enveloped” tales, writes German scholar Jürgen Grimm. Therefore, anthropomorphism is an oblique literary discourse, a fiction within a fiction.
Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (27 January 1826 – 10 May 1889) first used the word Aesopian to describe a language unclear to outsiders, thereby allowing authors to say what they please with relative impunity. In 1945, George Orwell wrote an allegorical novella entitled Animal Farm. His animals are humans in disguise, hence their saying what they will not have said. Their own tongue is a language, but it is not a human language. Babe, the protagonist, a piglet, of a 1995 Australian film directed by Chris Noonan and produced by George Miller, is an anthropomorphic animal. The film is an adaptation of Dick King-Smith‘s 1983 novel: The Sheep-Pig.
La Fontaine did make each of his animals speak, but he also emphasized the power of fiction, in which he may have further distanced his speaking animals. In the Preface to his first collection of fables, books one to six, La Fontaine notes that Jesus of Nazareth spoke in parables. Parables are stories and, as such, they empower speech. To illustrate the power of stories, La Fontaine’s wrote a fable entitled Le Pouvoir des fables (VIII.4). It contains an inner fable about a speaker the people of Athens would not listen to until he turned to fiction, a story about Cerēs,the Roman goddess of agriculture. The moral of the “Power of Fables” is that we are all Athenians. La Fontaine writes that if Donkeyskin, a fairy tale, was told to him, it would give him enormous pleasure. The world is old, writes the fabulist, yet it is like a child we must amuse.
Moreover, a story is pleasurable and is not easily forgotten.
Nous sommes tous d’Athène en ce point, et moi-même, Au moment où je fais cette moralité, Si Peau d’âne m’était conté, J’y prendrais un plaisir extrême. Le monde est vieux, dit-on, je le crois; cependant Il faut l’amuser encor comme un enfant. Le Pouvoir des fables (VIII.4)
We’re all from Athens in this point of view, And I myself, while moralizing too
If I the tale of the Ass-skin should hear, I’d listen to it with a well-pleased ear.
The world is old, they say; I own it-still
We must sometimes indulge its childish will. The Power of Fables (VIII.4)
It should be noted, however, that La Fontaine believed in a “boundless universe,” where tout parle, everything speaks, which is anthropomorphism.
Car tout parle dans l’Univers; Il n’est rien qui n’ait son langage. (XI.Épilogue)
For in this boundless universe
Ther’s none that talketh, simpleton or sage
More eloquent at home than in my verse.
Everything does speak. For instance, Milo Winter‘s illustrations for “The North Wind [Boreas] and the Sun” (“Phoebus and Boreas”) constitutes an example of elements, the wind and the sun, who speak as though they were humans. In short, anthropomorphism resembles a form of personification, which it is in“Phoebus and Boreas .”
giving animal features to anything (e. g. furniture)
Zoomorphism is a more complex concept than anthropomorphism and may be the reverse of anthropomorphism. Mythologies and myths are home to zoomorphic animals that combine the features of a human and an animal or the features of many animals. The centaur of Greek mythology is part human and part beast. Centaurs have the lower body of a horse, but the upper body of a human.
The Minotaur is the offspring of Pasiphaë, the wife of Cretan king Minos and the Cretan bull. He is part human and part bull and so evil a creature that he is kept in a labyrinth built by Daedalus. He is slain by Theseus who finds his way through the labyrinth using Ariadne‘s thread. These two hybrid creatures, the centaur and the Minotaur may hold a mirror to mankind’s duality. Humans possess a mortal body and an immortal soul.
However, mythology also features composite animals. Cerberus, the vigilant dog guarding the gates to the Underworld is a three-headed dog. J. K. Rowling used Cerberus in her Harry Potter series. Her fifth book in the Harry Potter series is entitled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Mythological animals have long inhabited the human psyche and are therefore somewhat familiar to readers. To my knowledge, no one escapes Cerberus’ attention, except Psyche. (See Cupid and Psyche, Wikipedia.) Pegasus, the winged horse, is also a well-known mythological being.
Mythologies are origin myths or aetiological. The Bible itself, the Scriptures or “the Word,” could be described as an aetiological text. It features fanciful angels who are human-like but have wings. In Greek mythology, for instance, animals have a lineage or a pedigree, as is the case with the above-mentioned Minotaur. In the growingly popular area of children’s literature, aetiological tales are called “Pourquoi” tales. The most famous example of a “Pourquoi” tale is Rudyard Kipling‘s (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) Just so stories.
Zoomorphic beasts may also be symbols. As mentioned above, those who mix the features of a human being may reflect the fall of mankind. Besides, an anthropomorphic serpent talked to Eve.
Mythologies and Myths
J. K. Rowling used not only Cerberus but the Phoenix, a symbol of rebirth. Symbolic beasts are mostly mythical rather than mythological, but readers and scholars tend to blur that line. The distinguishing criterion would be lineage. By and large, mythological beasts, such as the above-mentioned Minotaur and centaurs have a pedigree.
Mostly mythical animals are the phoenix, the unicorn, the dragon, the griffin and the irresistible Sirens, mermaids mostly. Mermaids have the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a fish. These legendary beings may make an appearance in mythologies, but they are somewhat ubiquitous and often transcultural. The phoenix has often been described as a mythological animal and he has a story as does the Unicorn, but he does not possess the Minotaur’s lineage.
The dragon is our most ubiquitous imaginary animal and may be good or bad depending on his environment. In the West he is bad, but not so in the East. Unicorns and Sirens are also transcultural. These mythical animals are zoomorphic, but, in Medieval Bestiary, they are symbols.
The dragon‘s characteristics change from culture to culture. He is feared in the West, but not in China.
The griffin, shown at the top of this post, a lion mostly, with the head of an eagle, is a guardian. In antiquity, he was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.
The unicorn has one horn and plays various roles from culture to culture. In Western culture, he is emblematic of chaste love and faithful marriage.
Given that he rises from his own ashes, the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and very popular.
The word zoomorphic is also used to describe pieces of furniture and architectural elements. For instance, the legs of wing chairs often imitate the feet of an animal. Besides wing chairs have wings. Among architectural element, the animal-like Gargoyle is a favourite. He is a waterspout with an open mouth. Bas-reliefs (shallow carvings on a flat surface, such as a wall) may also contain animal-like architectural elements. They embellish buildings. All animal-like creatures inhabiting the medieval bestiary are allegorical or symbolic.
Both the terms anthropomorphism and zoomorphism include morphism. Morphism suggests a metamorphosis, or a transformation in a being’s appearance, which may be a wish human beings share, just as they share the wish to fly. Roman writer Ovid (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18) is the author of the extremely influential Metamorphosesand Berber Latin writer Apuleius (c. 124 – c. 170 CE) wrote The Golden Ass, which contains the lovely tale ofCupid and Psyche. Lucius, the protagonist of The Golden Ass, is mistakenly transformed into an ass when attempting to be transformed into a bird.
In the Preface to his translation of Æsop’s Fables, John Fyler Townsend writes that animals are types, much like the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte.
The introduction of the animals or fictitious characters should be marked with care and attention to their natural attributes, and to the qualities attributed to them by universal popular consent. The Fox should be always cunning, the Hare timid, the Lion bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse proud, and the Ass patient. [EBook #21]
Zoomorphic animals are not types. However, there is a commonality between animals and humans, Darwinism is a subject we will not discuss. Mythical and mythological animals may be up to no good, but they are not mutating. Moreover, I consider totemism, animal ancestry, the preserve of anthropologists.
Beast literature is a huge topic. We cannot escape any of the categories mentioned in this post. Yet, anthropomorphism is its chief characteristics because of the prominence of fables and the Roman de Renart, Reynard the Fox. One could define the usefulness of anthropomorphic animals by using Gertrude Stein‘s a rose is a rose is a rose.
Well, at the end of the day, a fox is a fox is a fox, therein the wizardry of a large part of beast literature. However, we remember the story. Dear La Fontaine.
[I] Jan M. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750 – 1150(The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 1. [II]Jean Batany, Scène et coulisses du « Roman de Renart » (Paris: Cedes, 1989), p. 57.
Beauty dines with the Beast in an illustration by Anne Anderson (Photo credit: Wikipedia
My last two posts were an analysis of a fable by Jean de La Fontaine, “L’Ours et l’amateur des jardins,” “The Bear and the Gardener.” The corresponding fable by Æsop is entitled “The Bald Man and the Fly,” but the fable reflects Le Livre des lumières ou La Conduite des roys, fables by Bidpai.
You may remember that I could not find the fable’s Perry Index number. I simply forgot that Aesop’s corresponding fable was entitled “The Bald Man and the Fly.” It is numbered 525 in the Perry Index. For information on fables,Laura Gibbs’Bestiaria Latinais the site one visits. Æsop and his numerous followers are Laura’s area of specialization.
Animals in Literature: a Project
This post is a progress report. Several years ago, I had to prepare a course on animals in literature during a sabbatical leave I was devoting to my book on Molière. I taught the course and have continue researching the subject, but the effort ended my career.
However, I have written so many posts on Animals in Literature that they should be listed on a page. There are gaps to fill. As for the texts, many are on the internet, such as the collections of fables I listed on 2 March 2017. Would that there had been an entry on Beast Literature or Animals in Literature, when I prepared my course.
Fables and Fairy Tales: Anthropomorphism and Metamorphoses
Our starting-point will be a clarification of the concept of anthropomorphism. Animals in literature are human beings in disguise. I have already written a post on this subject, but it has been refurbished. But metamorphoses, many of which were told by Roman poet Ovid, are also central to both fables and fairy tales. Ovid’s Metamorphoses has been the source of a large number of literary works.
The sites listed below may be very useful. Posts about a particular fable may contain classification or cataloging information, but not necessarily. The Project Gutenberg has published very fine collections of Æsop’s Fables, including illustrations. La Fontaine is also online, most successfully. These collections are old, but they are the classics.