The de Grummond Collection is especially strong in its
holdings of Aesop and other fabulists, having over 200
editions, including 30 pre-1750 imprints. The title
page of our oldest edition, Aesopi Phrygis Fabellae
Graece & Latine (1530) is pictured on the left.
other editions include Roger L'Estrange's Fables
of Aesop (1708), Jean de La Fontaine's Fables
Choisies (1722), John Locke's Aesop's Fables
(1723), Gabriello Faerno's Fables in English and
French Verse (1741), Robert Dodsley's Select
Fables of Esop (1786), Francis Barlow's Les Fables
D'Esope (1802), Thomas Bewick's The Fables of
Aesop (1818), and Esop's Fables Written in Chinese
Joseph Jacobs, author of "History of the Aesopic Fable"
in the 1889 edition of William Caxton's Fables of Aesop,
states that the first-known collection of Aesop's fables
was written by Demetrius Phalareus in the 4th century BC,
approximatey one hundred years after Herodotus, the Greek
historian, had mentioned Aesop, the story-teller and slave
of Iadmon, in his historical accounts. Based on Herodotus,
Jacobs writes that Aesop "...flourished about 550 BC,
was a slave in Samos, and was killed, probably by a decree
of the Delphic oracle, and that compensation was claimed
for his death by the grandson of his master...."
the writings of Demetrius Phalareus were lost by the
9th century AD. The earliest surviving fables are attributed
to the Roman, Phaedrus, who died in 50 AD. The Encyclopedia
Britannica states that Phaedrus was "the first
writer to Latinize whole books of fables, producing
free versions in iambic metre of Greek prose fables
then circulating under the name of Aesop."
of Aesop, the man, and an extensive biography of his life
are attributed to Planudes who wrote The Life and Fables
Woodcut, 1715 Dugard
in the 13th century. "...A Greek Orthodox humanities
scholar, anthologist, and theological polemicist,"
born in 1260 according to the
Encyclopedia Britannica, Planudes' Fables
were a translation and revision of the Latin text
by Phadedrus. It was Planudes' revised fables which
were first translated into English by William Caxton
descibes Aesop as a black man and notes that his name
comes from the Greek word Aethiops which means Ethiopia.
In his 1715 translation from Planudes' Greek text, William
Dugard describes Aesop as one whom "...Nature had
gratified with an ingenious mind, but the Law had enslaved."
He was endowed with a large head, bowed legs and a large
belly. "His visage [was of] black hue."
From Aesopi Phrygis Fabvlae, 1623
Fabvlae; Genevae:Apud Ioannen Tornaesium, M. DC. XXIII. .
translated by William Dugard; London:Phillips, Rhodes and Taylor,
Britannica, 1st Revised Edition, Chicago:Encyclopedia Britannica,
of the Aesopic Fable," in The Fables of Aesop as first printed
by William Caxton in 1484, by Joseph Jacobs; London:David Nutt,