About this Recording
NA120712 - AESOP: Fables




The Fox and the Grapes • The Tortoise and the Hare

Androcles and the Lion • The Crow and the Pitcher

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and many more


Legend says that Aesop was a slave who lived in Ancient Greece around 600 BC but there is no real record of his life or death. We don’t even know for certain which of these fables, called Aesop’s Fables, were actually by him.

Over the years, over the many centuries, people added to this collection, contributing new stories and perhaps adding new aphorisms — the short sentences that explain the moral of the tale. For many people have found that this method of telling a short story to make a point — and help people remember the point — is a very effective way.


In France in the 17th century, a writer named Jean de la Fontaine produced many new fables, which told stories for his time. In America in the 19th century, Ambrose Bierce also loved the fable, and wrote many for his time. And in Japan, Zen Buddhist monks as learning and teaching devices used the same method — these are called Zen stories.


But who Aesop was, we have no idea. We can imagine him as a quiet, well-educated reflective man — tradition says he was a slave, but often slaves were educated in Ancient Greece. Perhaps he wasn’t so quiet — because he must have been a good storyteller. In the days of Aesop, the stories would have been told, rather than written for others to read.


By the time these fables emerged, Ancient Greece had a strong tradition of telling stories or poems — Homer’s famous Tales of Troy and Odysseus were well known by the time Aesop was supposed to have lived. And the pictures we have of storytellers on Greek vases show, very often, the storyteller weaving his spell with the help of a harp — adding music to the words, as we do here.

And there is no reason why the tradition of fables should come to an end now. Anyone … everyone can add new fables to the store of history. Even you. 


Notes by Nicolas Soames


Anton Lesser


A familiar voice on Naxos AudioBooks, Anton Lesser has played many of the principal Shakespearean roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed contemporary drama, notably The Birthday Party, by Harold Pinter. Appearances on television include The Cherry Orchard,

The Mill on the Floss and The Politician’s Wife.

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