Word Power | Aesop's Fables

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Learn about the famous Aesop and his fables and learn 10 new words along the way in a new Word Power episode from English Plus Podcast.

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Aesop’s Fables

Although similar to other types of stories, fables are a special type of narrative. In traditional fables, such as those supposedly told by Aesop in ancient Greece, the characters are animals. The story itself is meant to teach a lesson, such as the value of some moral rule or human virtue.

Aesop is mentioned by a number of ancient Greek authors, but it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Most people agree that he was born a slave in the first half of the sixth century B.C. Beyond this fact, however, stories of Aesop’s life are probably more legendary than factual. As was the custom then, even those born into servitude were allowed to participate in public life, so even though he was a slave, Aesop may have been allowed to travel far and wide sharing his fables.

According to one somewhat questionable story, Aesop settled in Sardis. There he became acquainted with King Croesus. Croesus thought highly of Aesop and hired him to serve as an ambassador of goodwill to the people. This allowed Aesop to spread the wisdom of his fables. Unfortunately, Aesop’s own sense of morality led to his death.

Croesus sent Aesop to Delphi with gold to distribute to the citizens of that republic. When Aesop arrived, he became angry at the Delphinians’ greed, so he sent the money back to Croesus. The angry Delphinians captured Aesop and immediately executed him. The people of Delphi were punished for their rash behavior with a series of catastrophes that continued until they offered a public apology.

Whether Aesop wrote the fables credited to him or not, the stories have been retold and enjoyed for centuries. One such tale is “The Ant and the Dove,” Try to figure out its moral, or lesson.

A very thirsty ant went down to the river for a drink. There the rushing waters carried the ant away. He was about to drown when a dove, watching from a tree branch overhanging the river, dropped a leaf into the water near the ant. The ant climbed aboard this makeshift raft and drifted to the shore and safety. A little while later, a birdcatcher came along and began arranging twigs as a trap for the dove. The ant, realizing the birdcatcher’s scheme, bit him in the foot. The birdcatcher’s painful scream alerted the dove, who flew away.

 

Keywords

narrative

A narrative is a story or an account of a series of events.

traditional

Traditional customs, beliefs, or methods are ones that have existed for a long time without changing.

virtue

Virtue is thinking and doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong.

legendary

If you describe someone or something as legendary, you mean that they are very famous and that many stories are told about them.

acquainted

If you are acquainted with someone, you have met them and you know them. You can also say that two people are acquainted.

ambassador

An ambassador is an important official who lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country’s interests there.

rash

If someone is rash or does rash things, they act without thinking carefully first, and therefore make mistakes or behave foolishly.

makeshift

makeshift things are temporary and usually of poor quality, but they are used because there is nothing better available.

scheme

A scheme is someone’s plan for achieving something.

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