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The fable is a small narrative, in prose or verse, which has as its main characteristic the aim of conveying a moral lesson (the “moral”), implicitly or, more normally, explicitly expressed. Even though the modern concept of fable is that it should have animals or inanimated objects as characters – an idea supported by the works of famous fabulists such as Aesop and La Fontaine – Phaedrus, the most important Latin fabulist, is innovative in his writing. Although many of his fables do depict animals or objects assuming speech, he also has many short stories about men, writing narratives that seem to the modern eye more like short tales than fables.Despite many other fables being attributed to Phaedrus, only five books are considered by scholarship to have been written by him. Phaedrus’ five books of fables are here presented in a translation to English prose by Henry Thomas Ridley.
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