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The de Grummond Collection is especially strong in its holdings of Aesop and other fabulists, having over 200 editions, including 30 pre-1750 imprints. The title page of our oldest edition, Aesopi Phrygis Fabellae Graece & Latine (1530) is pictured on the left.

Significant other editions include Roger L'Estrange's Fables of Aesop (1708), Jean de La Fontaine's Fables Choisies (1722), John Locke's Aesop's Fables (1723), Gabriello Faerno's Fables in English and French Verse (1741), Robert Dodsley's Select Fables of Esop (1786), Francis Barlow's Les Fables D'Esope (1802), Thomas Bewick's The Fables of Aesop (1818), and Esop's Fables Written in Chinese (1840).


Who was Aesop?

Joseph Jacobs, author of "History of the Aesopic Fable" in the 1889 edition of William Caxton's Fables of Aesop, states that the first-known collection of Aesop's fables was written by Demetrius Phalareus in the 4th century BC, approximatey one hundred years after Herodotus, the Greek historian, had mentioned Aesop, the story-teller and slave of Iadmon, in his historical accounts. Based on Herodotus, Jacobs writes that Aesop "...flourished about 550 BC, was a slave in Samos, and was killed, probably by a decree of the Delphic oracle, and that compensation was claimed for his death by the grandson of his master...."

Unfortunately the writings of Demetrius Phalareus were lost by the 9th century AD. The earliest surviving fables are attributed to the Roman, Phaedrus, who died in 50 AD. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that Phaedrus was "the first writer to Latinize whole books of fables, producing free versions in iambic metre of Greek prose fables then circulating under the name of Aesop."

Descriptions of Aesop, the man, and an extensive biography of his life are attributed to Planudes who wrote The Life and Fables of
Woodcut, 1715 Dugard

Aesop in the 13th century. "...A Greek Orthodox humanities scholar, anthologist, and theological polemicist," born in 1260 according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Planudes' Fables were a translation and revision of the Latin text by Phadedrus. It was Planudes' revised fables which were first translated into English by William Caxton in 1484.

Planudes descibes Aesop as a black man and notes that his name comes from the Greek word Aethiops which means Ethiopia. In his 1715 translation from Planudes' Greek text, William Dugard describes Aesop as one whom "...Nature had gratified with an ingenious mind, but the Law had enslaved." He was endowed with a large head, bowed legs and a large belly. "His visage [was of] black hue."

From Aesopi Phrygis Fabvlae, 1623


Aesopi Phygis Fabvlae; Genevae:Apud Ioannen Tornaesium, M. DC. XXIII. [1623].

Aesop's Fables, translated by William Dugard; London:Phillips, Rhodes and Taylor, 1715.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 1st Revised Edition, Chicago:Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1998.

"The History of the Aesopic Fable," in The Fables of Aesop as first printed by William Caxton in 1484, by Joseph Jacobs; London:David Nutt, 1889.


The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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