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Anthropomorphic cat guarding geese, Egypt, ca. 1120 BCE Cat guarding geese c1120 BC Egypt.jpg
Anthropomorphic cat guarding geese, Egypt, ca. 1120 BCE

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized, and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be added explicitly as a concise maxim or saying.


A fable differs from a parable in that the latter excludes animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as actors that assume speech or other powers of humankind.

Usage has not always been so clearly distinguished. In the King James Version of the New Testament, "μῦθος" (" mythos ") was rendered by the translators as "fable" [1] in the First Epistle to Timothy, the Second Epistle to Timothy, the Epistle to Titus and the First Epistle of Peter. [2]

A person who writes fables is a fabulist.


The fable is one of the most enduring forms of folk literature, spread abroad, modern researchers agree, [3] less by literary anthologies than by oral transmission. Fables can be found in the literature of almost every country.

Aesopic or Aesop's fable

The varying corpus denoted Aesopica or Aesop's Fables includes most of the best-known western fables, which are attributed to the legendary Aesop, supposed to have been a slave in ancient Greece around 550 BCE. When Babrius set down fables from the Aesopica in verse for a Hellenistic Prince "Alexander," he expressly stated at the head of Book II that this type of "myth" that Aesop had introduced to the "sons of the Hellenes" had been an invention of "Syrians" from the time of "Ninos" (personifying Nineveh to Greeks) and Belos ("ruler"). [4] Epicharmus of Kos and Phormis are reported as having been among the first to invent comic fables. [5] Many familiar fables of Aesop include "The Crow and the Pitcher", "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Lion and the Mouse". In ancient Greek and Roman education, the fable was the first of the progymnasmata —training exercises in prose composition and public speaking—wherein students would be asked to learn fables, expand upon them, invent their own, and finally use them as persuasive examples in longer forensic or deliberative speeches. The need of instructors to teach, and students to learn, a wide range of fables as material for their declamations resulted in their being gathered together in collections, like those of Aesop.


African oral culture [6] has a rich story-telling tradition. As they have for thousands of years, people of all ages in Africa continue to interact with nature, including plants, animals and earthly structures such as rivers, plains, and mountains. Grandparents enjoy enormous respect in African societies and fill the new role of story-telling during retirement years. Children and, to some extent, adults are mesmerized by good story-tellers when they become animated in their quest to tell a good fable.

Joel Chandler Harris wrote African-American fables in the Southern context of slavery under the name of Uncle Remus. His stories of the animal characters Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear are modern examples of African-American story-telling, this though should not transcend critiques and controversies as to whether or not Uncle Remus was a racist or apologist for slavery. The Disney movie Song of the South introduced many of the stories to the public and others not familiar with the role that storytelling played in the life of cultures and groups without training in speaking, reading, writing, or the cultures to which they had been relocated to from world practices of capturing Africans and other indigenous populations to provide slave labor to colonized countries.


India has a rich tradition of fabulous novels, mostly explainable by the fact that the culture derives traditions and learns qualities from natural elements. Some of the gods are forms of animals with ideal qualities. Also, hundreds of fables were composed in ancient India during the first millennium BCE, often as stories within frame stories. Indian fables have a mixed cast of humans and animals. The dialogues are often longer than in fables of Aesop and often witty as the animals try to outwit one another by trickery and deceit. In Indian fables, man is not superior to the animals. The tales are often comical. The Indian fable adhered to the universally known traditions of the fable. The best examples of the fable in India are the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales. These included Vishnu Sarma's Panchatantra , the Hitopadesha , Vikram and The Vampire , and Syntipas' Seven Wise Masters , which were collections of fables that were later influential throughout the Old World. Ben E. Perry (compiler of the "Perry Index" of Aesop's fables) has argued controversially that some of the Buddhist Jataka tales and some of the fables in the Panchatantra may have been influenced by similar Greek and Near Eastern ones. [7] Earlier Indian epics such as Vyasa's Mahabharata and Valmiki's Ramayana also contained fables within the main story, often as side stories or back-story. The most famous folk stories from the Near East were the One Thousand and One Nights , also known as the Arabian Nights.

Indian fables with morals [8]

A case of spiritualist India, Indian Fables Stories Panchatantra are the most seasoned enduring accounts of humankind, getting by for a considerable length of time, from mouth to mouth, before they were recorded. You will cherish the clear pace of the tales, and they generally make for extraordinary sleep time or narrating meetings. Offer them will all story darlings, and let them appreciate the light, captivating existence of the narratives.

The Panchatantra is an antiquated Indian assortment of between related creature tales in Sanskrit section and composition. The soonest recorded work, ascribed to Vishnu Sharma, dates to around 300 BCE. The tales are likely a lot more established, having been passed down ages orally. The word “Panchatantra” is a blend of the words Pancha – which means five in Sanskrit, and Tantra – which means weave. Truly interpreted, it implies interlacing five skeins of customs and lessons into a book.

They are really archived forms of oral stories that stumbled into ages previously. Indeed, even today, they are supported stories across India and different pieces of the world. We are pleased to present to you an assortment of the most well known Panchatantra stories to you, for they are cherished by grown-ups and kids the same.

They give the children an early balance onto good and social qualities, forming the youthful personalities into a moral future. The vast majority of the accounts accompany recordings after the content, to give you an overall encounter. Appreciate them, with your children, and offer them with everybody, and help manufacture an increasingly wonderful world.

These Indian Panchatantra stories are converted into straightforward English, and consequently they fill in as extraordinary material for short Indian stories for youngsters. Antiquated tales, still pertinent for the present howdy tech way of life


Printed image of the fable of the blacksmith and the dog from the sixteenth century. Fabel van de smid en de hond.jpg
Printed image of the fable of the blacksmith and the dog from the sixteenth century.

Fables had a further long tradition through the Middle Ages, and became part of European high literature. During the 17th century, the French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695) saw the soul of the fable in the moral — a rule of behavior. Starting with the Aesopian pattern, La Fontaine set out to satirize the court, the church, the rising bourgeoisie, indeed the entire human scene of his time. [10] La Fontaine's model was subsequently emulated by England's John Gay (1685–1732); [11] Poland's Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801); [12] Italy's Lorenzo Pignotti (1739–1812) [13] [ verification needed ] and Giovanni Gherardo de Rossi (1754–1827); [14] [ verification needed ] Serbia's Dositej Obradović (1739–1811); Spain's Félix María de Samaniego (1745–1801) [15] and Tomás de Iriarte y Oropesa (1750–1791); [16] [ verification needed ] France's Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–94); [17] and Russia's Ivan Krylov (1769–1844). [18]

Modern era

In modern times, while the fable has been trivialized in children's books, it has also been fully adapted to modern adult literature. Felix Salten's Bambi (1923) is a Bildungsroman — a story of a protagonist's coming-of-age — cast in the form of a fable. James Thurber used the ancient fable style in his books Fables for Our Time (1940) and Further Fables for Our Time (1956), and in his stories "The Princess and the Tin Box" in The Beast in Me and Other Animals (1948) and "The Last Clock: A Fable for the Time, Such As It Is, of Man" in Lanterns and Lances (1961). Władysław Reymont's The Revolt (1922), a metaphor for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, described a revolt by animals that take over their farm in order to introduce "equality." George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945) similarly satirized Stalinist Communism in particular, and totalitarianism in general, in the guise of animal fable.

In the 21st century, the Neapolitan writer Sabatino Scia is the author of more than two hundred fables that he describes as “western protest fables.” The characters are not only animals, but also things, beings, and elements from nature. Scia's aim is the same as in the traditional fable, playing the role of revealer of human society. In Latin America, the brothers Juan and Victor Ataucuri Garcia have contributed to the resurgence of the fable. But they do so with a novel idea: use the fable as a means of dissemination of traditional literature of that place. In the book "Fábulas Peruanas" published in 2003, they have collected myths, legends, beliefs of Andean and Amazonian Peru, to write as fables. The result has been an extraordinary work rich in regional nuances. Here we discover the relationship between man and his origin, with nature, with its history, its customs and beliefs then become norms and values. [19]




Notable fable collections

See also

Further reading


  1. For example, in First Timothy , "neither give heed to fables...", and "refuse profane and old wives' fables..." (1 Tim 1:4 and 4:4, respectively).
  2. Strong's 3454. μύθος muthos moo’-thos; perhaps from the same as 3453 (through the idea of tuition); a tale, i.e. fiction ("myth"):—fable.
    "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (2nd Peter 1:16)
  3. Enzyklopädie des Märchens (1977), see "Fabel", "Äsopica" etc.
  4. Burkert 1992:121
  5. P. W. Buckham, p. 245
  6. Atim Oton (October 25, 2011). "Reaching African Children Through Fables and Animation". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  7. Ben E. Perry, "Introduction", p. xix, in Babrius and Phaedrus (1965)
  8. Ohale, Nagnath (2020-05-25). "Indian Fables Stories - In Indian Culture Indian fables with morals". In Indian Culture. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  9. "Fabel van de smid en de hond". lib.ugent.be. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  10. Translations of his 12 books of fables are available online at oaks.nvg.org
  11. His two collections of 1727 and 1738 are available in one volume on Google Books at books.google.co.uk
  12. His Bajki i przypowieści (Fables and Parables, 1779) are available online at ug.edu.pl
  13. His Favole e Novelle (1785) is available on. da'torchi di R.di Napoli. 1830. Retrieved May 8, 2012 via Internet Archive. pignotti favola.
  14. Rossi, Giovanni Gherardo De (1790). His Favole (1788) is available on Google Books . Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  15. 9 books of fables are available online in Spanish at amediavoz.com
  16. His Fabulas Literarias are available on. 1816. Retrieved May 8, 2012 via Internet Archive. Tomás de Iriarte y Oropesa fabulas.
  17. His five books of fables are available online in French at shanaweb.net Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine
  18. 5 books of fables are available online in English at friends-partners.org Archived 2011-02-21 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Juan y Víctor Ataucuri García, "Fábulas Peruanas", Gaviota Azul Editores, Lima, 2003 ISBN   9972-2561-0-3.
  20. Kermode, Mark (30 July 2013). "The Devil's Backbone: The Past Is Never Dead . . ". The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection . Retrieved 25 June 2016. For those with a weakness for the beautiful monsters of modern cinema, del Toro has earned himself a reputation as the finest living exponent of fabulist film.

Related Research Articles

Ignacy Krasicki

Ignacy Błażej Franciszek Krasicki, from 1766 Prince-Bishop of Warmia and from 1795 Archbishop of Gniezno, was Poland's leading Enlightenment poet, a critic of the clergy, Poland's La Fontaine, author of the first Polish novel, playwright, journalist, encyclopedist, and translator from French and Greek.

Jataka tales Collection of traditional narratives of the previous lives of Buddha

The Jataka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates. Often, Jātaka tales include an extensive cast of characters who interact and get into various kinds of trouble - whereupon the Buddha character intervenes to resolve all the problems and bring about a happy ending.

Phaedrus (fabulist)

Gaius Julius Phaedrus was a 1st-century CE Roman fabulist and the first versifier of a collection of Aesop's fables into Latin. Few facts are known about him for certain and there was little mention of his work during late antiquity. It was not until the discovery of a few imperfect manuscripts during and following the Renaissance that his importance emerged, both as an author and in the transmission of the fables.

<i>Panchatantra</i> Ancient Sanskrit text of animal fables from India

The Panchatantra is an ancient Indian collection of interrelated animal fables in Sanskrit verse and prose, arranged within a frame story. The surviving work is dated to roughly 200 BCE – 300 CE, based on older oral tradition. The text's author has been attributed to Vishnu Sharma in some recensions and Vasubhaga in others, both of which may be pen names. It is classical literature in a Hindu text, and based on older oral traditions with "animal fables that are as old as we are able to imagine".

Aesops Fables Collection of fables credited to Aesop

Aesop's Fables, or the Aesopica, is a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Of diverse origins, the stories associated with his name have descended to modern times through a number of sources and continue to be reinterpreted in different verbal registers and in popular as well as artistic media.

An apologue or apolog is a brief fable or allegorical story with pointed or exaggerated details, meant to serve as a pleasant vehicle for a moral doctrine or to convey a useful lesson without stating it explicitly. Unlike a fable, the moral is more important than the narrative details. As with the parable, the apologue is a tool of rhetorical argument used to convince or persuade.

<i>Fables and Parables</i>

Fables and Parables, by Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801), is a work in a long international tradition of fable-writing that reaches back to antiquity. Krasicki's fables and parables have been described as being, "[l]ike Jean de La Fontaine's [fables],... amongst the best ever written, while in colour they are distinctly original, because Polish." They are, according to Czesław Miłosz, "the most durable among Krasicki's poems."

The lion's share is an idiomatic expression which now refers to the major share of something. The phrase derives from the plot of a number of fables ascribed to Aesop and is used here as their generic title. There are two main types of story, which exist in several different versions. Other fables exist in the East that feature division of prey in such a way that the divider gains the greater part - or even the whole. In English the phrase used in the sense of nearly all only appeared at the end of the 18th century; the French equivalent, le partage du lion, is recorded from the start of that century, following La Fontaine's version of the fable.

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs Aesops Fable

"The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs" is one of Aesop's Fables, numbered 87 in the Perry Index, a story that also has a number of Eastern analogues. Many other stories contain geese that lay golden eggs, though certain versions change them for hens or other birds that lay golden eggs. The tale has given rise to the idiom 'killing the goose that lays the golden eggs', which refers to the short-sighted destruction of a valuable resource, or to an unprofitable action motivated by greed.

Ramsay Wood is a former (1981-1990) performance storyteller, professional photographer and non-academic author of two late 20th Century sui generis novels which aim — via vernacular spiels within complex frame-story narratives — to popularize the pre-literate, oral story-listening drama of multicultural animal fables mimed and declaimed along the ancient Silk Road. His books blend The Jatakas Tales, The Panchatantra and the likely role of Alexander the Great's legacy in "bringing the Aesopian tradition to North India and Central Asia" via Hellenization in Central Asia and India. Wood's Kalila and Dimna – Selected Fables of Bidpai was published by Knopf in 1980 with an Introduction by Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing.

The Fox and the Crow (Aesop) Aesops fable

The Fox and the Crow is one of Aesop's Fables, numbered 124 in the Perry Index. There are early Latin and Greek versions and the fable may even have been portrayed on an ancient Greek vase. The story is used as a warning against listening to flattery.

The Tortoise and the Birds

The Tortoise and the Birds is a fable of probable folk origin, early versions of which are found in both India and Greece. There are also African variants. The moral lessons to be learned from these differ and depend on the context in which they are told.

Aesop Ancient Greek storyteller

Aesop was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop's Fables. Although his existence remains unclear and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day. Many of the tales are characterized by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems, and generally have human characteristics.

The Tiger, the Brahmin and the Jackal

The Tiger, the Brahmin and the Jackal is a popular Indian fairy tale with a long history and many variants. Mary Frere included a version in her 1868 collection of Indian folktales, Old Deccan Days, the first collection of Indian folktales in English. A version was also included in Joseph Jacobs' collection Indian Fairy Tales, though its inclusion in the Panchatantra dates the story to between 200 BCE and 300 CE.

The milkmaid and her pail Folk tale

The Milkmaid and Her Pail is a folktale of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1430 about interrupted daydreams of wealth and fame. Ancient tales of this type exist in the East but Western variants are not found before the Middle Ages. It was only in the 18th century that the story about the daydreaming milkmaid began to be attributed to Aesop, although it was included in none of the main collections, and it does not appear in the Perry Index.

The Lion, the Bear and the Fox is one of Aesop's Fables that is numbered 147 in the Perry Index. There are similar story types of both eastern and western origin in which two disputants lose the object of their dispute to a third.

The Mouse Turned into a Maid Fable

The mouse turned into a maid is an ancient fable of Indian origin that travelled westwards to Europe during the Middle Ages and also exists in the Far East. The story is Aarne-Thompson type 2031C in his list of cumulative tales, another example of which is The Husband of the Rat's Daughter. It concerns a search for a partner through a succession of more powerful forces, resolved only by choosing an equal.

The Wolf and the Lamb Aesops fable

The Wolf and the Lamb is a well-known fable of Aesop and is numbered 155 in the Perry Index. There are several variant stories of tyrannical injustice in which a victim is falsely accused and killed despite a reasonable defence.

The Bear and the Gardener is a fable of eastern origin that warns against making foolish friendships. There are several variant versions, both literary and oral, across the world and its folk elements are classed as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1586. The La Fontaine version has been taken as demonstrating various philosophical lessons.

The Cock, the Dog and the Fox Aesops fable

The Cock, the Dog and the Fox is one of Aesop's Fables and appears as number 252 in the Perry Index. Although it has similarities with other fables where a predator flatters a bird, such as The Fox and the Crow and Chanticleer and the Fox, in this one the cock is the victor rather than victim. There are also Eastern variants of this story.