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Posts Tagged ‘fictional biography’

During the mysteries a staple feature was enacting the legend of Demeter and Persephone. Aesop and Xeno watched the procession of initiates wearing myrtles and carrying the image of Iacchos. When it reached the Cephisus-bridge there used to take place an exchange of pleasantries before it once again solemnly moved along the Sacred Way to Eleusis. The exchange sent its wave of merriment along the spectators. Spontaneous it was. Aesop with a chuckle narrated about one woman whom he knew by name Demeter. “Xeno, she called her daughter, so obvious isn’t it, by the name Persephone? She was married to a potter and before long she left her husband to live with her mother. After she was bothered by her incessant demands, mother could only say: ‘Demeter had it really good. Only she had to go in search of her daughter. In my case Oh!’” (The Life of Aesop-benny thomas.www.bennythomas.nl/books/Ch.7.8-pp131)

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Aesop needs no introduction and his fables are part of world heritage. I have written a full length fictional biography in a series of episodes tracing his life from his childhood to his exile and death.
Perhaps you might ask if the life of Aesop in particular is relevant to the modern world. He lived as we are, at a time when two world empires were on collision course. I have showed how Aesop with all his prudence and high moral principles was a victim like every other of the larger forces at work. From his life the reader may draw his or her own conclusions as to the manner history is made and principles that take man to rise or fall.
This book has no mindless violence, gratuitous sex or swearing etc but fun and all that adds grace to life in the young or old.
This book published in 2006 is now available as e.book. I am pasting the link here below and you may check it out.
lulu.com/content/10421760
The ISBN number is 978-1-4475-7597-9
Thanks.
benny

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PREFACE

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)
benny

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Following books are available from Amazon.com.

Muckle in the Valley of Eagles – picture book (English)

Muckle van het Dal van Adelaars  (Dutch version)

The Goodwill Rose           -picture book

The Life of Aesop             -pocket book  and

Sufficient unto this Day – pocket book

Those who are interested may visit books section  Amazon and click my name.

benny thomas

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9.

Tantalus was like a second father to Basileus. Iadmon was often away on something or other and the boy always looked to Tantalus for guidance. Once he asked Tantalus of what stuff his spirit was made of. He said his tutor swore by it whereas he could not make head or tail of it. Tantalus knew the boy of 14 was serious. He explained spirit as something similar to heat that accompanied the lighting of the oil lamp. “The life of man burns and the light which we see from his actions would generate heat. The City of Athens is a city of lights, fame of which is supplied by so many men and women. It is the spirit of the city which gives heat in such intensity much more than, say in a small town.” Basileus thought over it and said, “It is the spirit of the times which is the key.” “No, spirit of man is the key,” Tantalus said with a smile, ”If it were not for that how we can judge the quality of any age?” Spirit of man gives his age and place its special flavor. What moves Sparta with their Spartan way of life would leave an Athenian cold.

10.

Man is a physical and moral being.

Aesop sought his mentor out often in order to clear many of his doubts. One day Hesiod narrated story of a sage who wanted to revive one at the point of death. He sent the monkey-god to fetch a certain herb from a mountain. The time was short so the monkey-god brought the whole mountain to the physician-sage so he could choose the exact herb himself. “It is the task of each to find Truth and not leave it for others.” Aesop agreed with his mentor that Truth was for all occasions. Truth applied to both body and spirit. “The body must be true to Truth: actions give it the correct volume and shape. It has that seal of truth: thereby he is seen as human to all. He also ensures his growth by referring to Truth.” (Ch.2 His Baggage-page 45-46)

benny

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7.
One day the boy, Pheidonides said he was alone in the wide world. ‘No one cared if I lived or died,’ he said. Aesop let him speak. The boy explained that since he considered himself not responsible for his little brothers he came to the conclusion there existed no reason why should others care if he existed or not. Aesop explained how the world was connected by means of an example.
“When eagles fly the wild hares sunning on the rocks run as fast as their legs can carry. If hares run what will a tortoise do? He thinks hares are running to spite him. So he also sprints not realizing he is clumsy. He is bound to slip and fall over. “Sad uh?” Aesop asked: ”with his heavy shell he merely scratches the air; helpless he is.” The boy said, ”If I were there I would set him right.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I think of Creon whenever I see a tortoise.” Aesop didn’t press the obvious. For he knew the boy already had sensed the connection.

8.
When Aesop told Xeno the cynic about his discourse to the neighbor kid Xeno said, ”What, are you partial to the tortoise? The poor eagle has his mate and a brood of chicks to feed. Think of their state if every one had the same notions as you?”
“Xeno,” Aesop said, ”you are right. Eagles with red talons and beak also have their place in the scheme of things.”
“I did not think you would agree so quickly!”
“ You are right but you miss the whole picture.” Aesop said, ”It is the duty of every living being to preserve the right to life in others. Speaking of the right no more compassion can be shown than when one is helpless. Compassion is the means to provide equal chance for the birds of prey and tortoises. Equal chance, Xeno”
Xeno agreed.

9.
It was evident Xeno had given much thought to the last discussion he had with Aesop. “But you did not get equal chance. Neither did I.” Xeno explained in so many words about his past. He was the second son who merely replaced the one who died before. He said, ”I knew I was not loved for what I am.” Controlling himself he added, “By the time my younger brothers came my parents were cured of their folly and they got their share, alright.” Suddenly Xeno fell silent.
“Yes, my friend,” Aesop explained, ”there is so much ignorance and cruelty. Those who ought to have loved and cherished us merely failed in their duty. We came into this world naked and dispossessed already. It is the law of deprivation at work. We had no choice in the matter. Did we?” Xeno shook his head.
“It is random and an accident. Why make it worse by feeling sorry?  The law of deprivation entitles us to another law.”
Xeno shot up his eyebrows.
“Yes. Law of Compensation.” Aesop said, ”Whatever good comes your way you have earned it. How I came into the household of Iadmon was not how I went out.”
“You are still cash strapped,” Xeno asked, ”Aren’t you?”  “Yes,” Aesop said, ”Making riches was not how I wished to be compensated.” Aesop realized life compensated him only in directions he sought to remedy his wants.
He told him a story to illustrate it.  An Argive went in search of gold after hearing of a gold rush in the neighborhood. He came to the right spot all right. But he was too late. So many had before him panned gold from the rocks and so quickly too, and had exhausted the deposit. So he went on in dismay not knowing where. He stumbled upon a field strewn with bodies of men and horses. A bloody carnage the battlefield had witnessed and he was the only living person there. The Persian army lay dead in their rich apparel and armor before him. He picked as much gold plated helmets and body armor, not to mention swords with handles studded with precious jewels. He brought home a fortune! There was gold much more than he would have ever picked from panning. Was he wrong if he treated his find as compensation for his trouble?
10.
The city of Athens was electrified by the news. The Battle of Salamis was fought and the City drew some kind of shock that converted each citizen. A new confidence was evident everywhere. Aesop had put himself for the war effort and Basileus relieved him for the purpose. Because of his lameness he could not do active service as a foot soldier. When Xeno asked him if he was disappointed he said, ”Oh no! I do not care for the glory of a war but it is necessity to put myself to the cause of Athens.” With a smile he said, ”The commander who saw me awaiting marching orders said, you will not do, son. Your bad foot shall not hold up other soldiers.”
“Law of compensation at work I see!” The cynic said. Aesop continued, ”I spend part of my day copying orders in a clear hand. My commander says he is satisfied with my work. My beautiful hand must serve instead.”  (Selectd from The Life of Aesop-Ch.8, pages 147-151)

benny

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