Mr. Wolf finally took subscription with a cable T.V Company and had a flat screen installed in his lair. Watching TV became a routine and an addiction. Once surfing channels with his remote he was struck by a talk show. A kid was waxing eloquent and all through the show he ridiculed wolves.
He asked: ”What can one do with a wolf who has become a couch-potato?”
He himself supplied the answer: ”You still got to skin him.” Watching how the lamb was getting all the laughs he fumed: ”Talking head, your wisecracks do not worry me so much as not knowing what you have done with the rest of your body.”
No marks for guessing the source of this story.
Who has not heard of Aesop? Or read his fables? Very little is known of his life and the present book, I hope, shall to some extent satisfy that lacuna.
Who was Aesop?
The name is nothing more than a label that has come to be tacked on certain stories and these are the forerunner of fables as a literary genre. Of course he is a historical person if we were to go by the account of Herodotus in the Histories. According to him he lived in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis (middle of the 6th century BC). By the latter part of the fifth century the name was familiar in Greece as the author of fables. Fables were extant even before Greeks ascribed this unique distinction to Aesop. It was in keeping with the Greek tradition of affixing various compositions to real or imaginary ‘finder out’. According to present day scholars there is likelihood that Indian fables served as model for fables as much as Assyrian and Persian fables became known to the Greeks in classical times. Be that as it may Aesop and fables have become inseparable and no further proof we need to call for the present purpose.
My intention is to piece together from stray historical details a biography as representative of Everyman.
Let us see what are his credentials to be our spokesman. He was a slave. Are we not to market economy? We are slaves to the extent we have no independent spirit to go against the trends and we play the game. We play by their rules and not by our own. On this point I consider him as good as any to speak for us.
Consider the intent of fables which speak for him and did they spare him from death? According to Plutarch the storyteller was hurled to his death because of offending powers that be. Even this day do we not see how the just and innocent are as much as the bad affected by events beyond their control? Aesop serves as a template for all in life as well as in his death.
From the beginning of the Christian era fables served as regular feature of Rhetorical training. Fables have been treated as part of moral treatises and interest in this literary genre has continued even in later centuries.
Aesop’s stories gave rise to a literary genre that bridges the Archaic and the modern era. It has attracted many illustrious names, among them La Fontaine and Thurber in recent times. What lessons in prudence and morality he inculcated through his stories have shaped our ethics. Aesop remains fresh as ever, being impressed in imagination that is not bound by time or fads. Consequently this is a work of imagination. Having said this by way of preface I can only add: ‘go little book, do your thing! I am quite done.’
(The modified version)