The Urbane Fox
Who said Latin’s only for swots? Show them this little book. None of your “veni, vidi, vici”, just a collection of animal tales by the Latin poet Phaedrus adapted into modern English rhyming couplets, plus jokey illustrations.
Phaedrus scribbled his verses 2,000 years ago, when the Roman Empire was getting into its stride, but they are based on something much older – Aesop’s fables, or at least the tales said to have been written by an ancient Greek called Aesop. No original versions of these exist and Phaedrus deserves much of the credit for passing on their substance to the rest of us.
This sample collection includes well-known stories like the fox and the crow and the frog who puffed himself in envy of a bull, together with less familiar ones like the peacock who can’t sing and the canny canine who turns down a crocodile’s drinks invitation. But really these fables are about human vanity, stupidity or trickery, which is why they can still entertain when retold in the language you hear today on the bus or the telly.
Published: 16 December 2013