Talkin Aesop: Four Expanded Fables

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K-4 Lesson

Comprehension and Collaboration 4. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles. Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others. Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

The Wolf And The Lamb

Text Types and Purposes 4. Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. A fable, while usually written as a child's story, conveys a simple lesson that can be appreciated by readers of all ages. Fables, both enjoyable and fun to read, can be an important part of a child's moral education especially when shared between parents and children. The word "fable" comes from the Latin " fabula " a "story".

An author of fables is termed a fabulist. The word " fabulous ," which comes from the word 'fable' now has a secondary meaning in the context of fables, and is more informally used to mean, 'superb' or 'exceptional'. An example of a fable would be the following story of the The Fox and the Grapes [2]. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success.

Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour. The moral of the story, that you cannot always have what you want is summed up by the expression, "sour grapes," a common idiomatic expression that resonates with most English speakers. The fable's lesson holds universal appeal and most readers can recognize that the fox 's attitude is a common human failing. In time each animal became symbolic of one outstanding vice or virtue—for example the owl was wise, the ass was stupid, the fox cunning, the wolf cruel, the pig greedy, the peacock proud, and the lion brave.

So the fable was born as a vehicle for conveying simple moral truths. Many of Krasicki's fables provided political and satirical commentary prior to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth partitioning by Russia , Prussia and Hapsburg Austria in the mid-eighteenth century. Hermes wanted to know how much people valued him, so he assumed a human form and went into a sculptor's workshop. He saw there a statue of Zeus and he asked how much it cost.

The man said that it cost a drachma. Hermes smiled, and asked how much the statue of Hera would be. The man named a still higher price. But Kurke has a big problem with this term Quellenforschung : for her, it is a straw man that stands for the approaches of her predecessors working on the Life of Aesop traditions.

Needing Quellenforschung as a straw man, Kurke makes it seem as if her predecessors saw no structure in the Life of Aesop traditions—no unity, not even any tendency toward unity.

Reading More Fables (I swear I'm not a furry)

I disagree with her. And I disagree even more when she starts naming names. That is what I was trying to do in my own work on Aesop, following the historical perspectives that Wiechers had already applied. Without these historical perspectives, I am sure that my own work on Aesop would have led to a dead end.

In any case, I argue that we need to combine the historical perspectives of Wiechers with synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Such a combination, to my mind, is an improved and refined form of Quellenforschung. I quote here a formulation of hers that comes closest to the ideal of Quellenforschung that I have just argued for.

I start from the assumption that stories about Aesop circulated for centuries, with different elements doing complex ideological work at different points. Thus, in what resembles a three-dimensional chess game, I want to try to take different synchronic slices or snapshots, and, at each point, put the elements in dynamic relation to their cultural and historical context.

And, as far as I am concerned, the methodology she describes here can apply to the methods I used in my own work on Aesop. Faulting Wiechers for his attempt to trace the lore about Aesop at Delphi from the time of the First Sacred War in the archaic period all the way into the classical period, Kurke AC 31 has this to say about his findings and about the models that I and others have built with reference to these findings: [R]eligious models dependent on Wiechers [] presuppose religion—and culture—as entirely static, monolithic, unified systems without any possibility for historical change or human agency.

Following the structuralist approach of Jakobson, I use the term langue with reference to language as a system and the term parole with reference to language as it comes to life once it is spoken by historical persons speaking in historical situations. I resist this claim. In my study of these two myths, I was comparing them to each other as structures. That is to say, I applied a comparative structuralist methodology.

I will come back to this observation at a later point in my argumentation, where I outline three different applications of comparative structuralist methodology in studying related structures. Here again I resist this claim. As I argued earlier, my model simply views tradition diachronically as well as historically.

Rather, once again, it views religion diachronically as well as historically. After making the general statement that I just quoted, where she interprets my overall formulation about god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult as if it were a historical model, which it is not, Kurke proceeds to interrogate my model in the form of four rhetorical questions. It is a diachronic model, meant to be tested on synchronic analysis of the relevant historical evidence. The primary example involves Neoptolemos, son of Achilles: the final resting place for the corpse of this hero was believed to be the sacred precinct of Apollo at Delphi Pindar Nemean 7.

I must add that the relationship of both these heroes to Apollo involves also the Muses further evidence and analysis in Nagy b, which Kurke does not cite.

I am grateful to Kowalzig for citing at an earlier point in her argumentation p. In my work, I connected this same ritual of the sacrificial slaughter of sheep at Delphi with a myth about the death of Aesop at Delphi, following the historical analysis of this myth by Wiechers and others.

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Unfortunately, Kowalzig does not cite Wiechers and mentions Aesop nowhere in her book, though she does cite an earlier work of Kurke on Aesop in Delphi Hera, Apollo at certain times and places in relation to certain heroes e. I start with the general part of the question and then proceed to the specific part.

At least, it applies in terms of the ideology we see at work in a passage that I will now highlight in the Hesiodic Works and Days —, What we see in this passage is in effect an ancient poetic version of what I have been describing as a diachronic model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult. To be correlated with this dual pattern of antagonism in myth is a dual pattern of symbiosis in cult, as attested in an aetiological myth linked with a sacred space located on a mountain peak in Arcadia by the name of Boreion: Pausanias 8. Since Arcadia is proverbially mountainous and landlocked, this Arcadian myth can be connected with myths about the travels of Odysseus to places that were located as far away from the sea as possible.

These myths are reflected in the Odyssey xi —, xxiii — , within the context of a riddling prophecy by Teiresias about the death of Odysseus Nagy b I built it also on the basis of comparative evidence found in Indic myths, which belong to the same Indo-European linguistic family as do the Greek myths that I studied. That is to say, what social work is this religious structure performing? It is simply a diachronic model formulated by an outsider to the system, in this case, by me, and this model is meant to be continually tested by way of synchronically analyzing the available historical realities.

The model does not belong to me, since it is meant to be used by anyone who wants to test it on their own synchronic analysis of the realities. If the model works when you test it, then the model is a successful one—at least, it is successful to that extent. And if the model does not work, it will need to be adjusted. Such a model is like the grammar that a grammarian writes for a given language. The grammar can be synchronic or diachronic or both. But the real grammar of the language exists in the language itself, and this grammar exists even if there is no grammarian to write a grammar for it.

What I see here once again is a need for distinguishing diachronic and historical perspectives. Diachronic models are axiomatic, yes. Such models are built to be tested on the open-ended contingencies of historical realities. I propose to put to the test my diachronic model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult by re-examining some of the historical evidence for the hero cult of Neoptolemos and by comparing it with corresponding historical evidence for the hero cult of Aesop. And I will also show that we need to distinguish between conflicts in history and oppositions in a given structure.

And it was this methodology that led to my formulation of the model of god-hero antagonism in myth and symbiosis in cult BA I submit that such a model does not preempt but in fact invites the analysis of oppositions representing conflict and contestation within the myth of Apollo and Neoptolemos, or within the myth of Apollo and Aesop. With reference to what I just said, I must highlight the fact that a primary aim of mine in The Best of the Achaeans was to study the structural reality of an opposition between higher and lower forms of social discourse in correlation with the historical reality of conflicts between higher and lower elements of society.

And I studied such highs and lows by concentrating on Achilles and his son Neoptolemos at one extreme in the first part of the book and on Aesop at the other extreme in the second part. Rather, I was comparing these myths to each other as multiforms of structures. When we apply comparative structuralist methodology in analyzing any given set of structures, we can determine whether or not these structures are related to each other.

Then, if these structures are related, we can determine how they are related, and there are at least three kinds of relatedness: The structures were always related because they are cognate, that, is, because they are diachronically derivable from a shared proto-structure. The structures were at one time unrelated, but they became synchronically interrelated at a later time because of historical contacts. The structures were always related because they are cognate, but they also became synchronically interrelated at a later time because of historical contacts.

So the question is, how do we describe the relationship between the myth of Aesop and the myth of Neoptolemos? In comparing the myths with each other, I find that the third of the three explanations I have just formulated fits both the structural and the historical realities of these myths.

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And then, to the extent that at least some versions of these myths can be situated in the historical context of Delphi, I find that they are also related to each other historically as interdependent structures. Perry , telling how this ostensibly lowly figure was killed by the people of Delphi. Next, I compare this myth of Aesop to the myth of Neoptolemos as we find it attested in two songs of Pindar, Nemean 7 and Paean 6. As we see from this shared feature, the two versions of the myth have in common the central idea that the violent death of this hero resulted from a ritual of sacrificial slaughter that went wrong, very wrong.

Such an idea is typical of aetiologies , by which I mean myths that explain and even confirm the stability of a ritual or of some other such institution by narrating a primordial event of instability in the mythical past. Despite this attenuation, however, the catastrophic event at the mythical feast of Tantalus is correlated with the ritual festivities of the Olympics in the overall narrative morphology of Olympian 1, as I argue PH ch. Despite these two attenuations in the two versions of the myth of Neoptolemos as narrated by Pindar, both versions are starkly explicit in linking the violent death of the hero with a sacrifice that goes wrong and becomes a catastrophe.

And same kind of argument can be made about the myth of Aesop in Delphi: this myth too is aetiological, as we will now see. There is an interesting variant in Vita G : in this narrative as well, the death of Aesop causes a plague, but the god who is consulted by the people of Delphi is in this case not Apollo but Zeus in BA , I fail to record this detail. Rose , on the other hand, the god is specified as Apollo still, Kurke at AC 67n42 sides with those who think that the version naming Zeus is older than the version naming Apollo.

As we see from the cause-and-effect mentality at work in all these variants of the Life of Aesop , this narrative is basically an aetiology. It is one of many attested examples of aetiological myths that explain and thus motivate the ritual practices of hero cults. Sometimes he or she is harmed and even killed. The community is then afflicted with some form of disaster, usually a plague. An oracle is then consulted, and the remedy prescribed by the god of the oracle is that a hero cult must be established in honor of the hero.

I now cite another example of such aetiological myths. This time, the example comes from the narratives we find recorded in the Mnesiepes Inscription Archilochus T 4 ed. Tarditi , which can be dated to the first half of the third century BCE and which is historically linked with the hero cult of the archaic poet Archilochus on the island of Paros Clay —24; further analysis in Nagy b. This inscription narrates the life and times of the poet, and I focus here on the part of the narration that presents an aetiological myth to motivate the establishment of a hero cult for Archilochus T 4 III lines 16— Archilochus was put on trial 42 and was apparently condemned.

Then the city was afflicted by a plague that affected the genitalia 42— As we have seen, both myths are aetiological. And, as aetiologies, both myths explain and motivate the establishment of hero cults for their respective heroes. Both myths center on a disorderly and even chaotic sacrifice in the past, which is correlated with the orderly ritual of sacrifice in the present. And that sacrifice, featuring the ritual slaughter of sheep, is evidently central to these two hero cults honoring Aesop and Neoptolemos as cult heroes. But I must disagree with her attempt here to divorce the chaotic sacrificial scene in the myth about the ostensibly low-minded Aesop from the sacrificial scene we see in the myth about the high-minded Neoptolemos as narrated by the high-minded Pindar in Paean 6 and Nemean 7.

That scene, in both narrations of Pindar, is not orderly and decorous. It is chaotic in its own right. So I disagree with Kurke p. Unlike Kurke, I think that the myth, of and by itself, was potentially variable in register. In later phases of my argumentation, we will see that Aesopic myths and even Aesopic forms of speaking could participate in higher as well as lower registers of discourse. The basic scenario of this aetiology, as we have seen, was this: Aesop died because he got into a quarrel at a sacrifice. The primary function of this myth was aetiological, that is, it motivated the establishment of a hero cult for Aesop at Delphi.

When we compare the myth about the death of Neoptolemos at Delphi, we see a parallel aetiology. Here too, as we have seen, the basic scenario of this aetiology was that Neoptolemos died because he got into a quarrel at a sacrifice. And here too, the primary function of this myth was aetiological, that is, it motivated the establishment of a hero cult for Neoptolemos at Delphi.

In terms of my argumentation, the parallelism that we see here in the primary functions of these myths of Aesop and Neoptolemos as aetiologies indicates that these two myths are diachronically related to each other as cognates. But there are evident counterexamples, such as the ostentatiously lowly status of cult heroes such as Archilochus. And, in this historical context, the myth of Aesop could have a secondary function, besides its primary function as an aetiology.

Aesop's Fable unlocks how we think

But the function of parody, I insist, does not exclude the dimension of ritual. Parody can be performed by way of ritual. I now propose to reformulate her formulation as follows: the myth about the death of Aesop developed a parodic relationship with the myth about the death of Neoptolemos in the historical context of a festival celebrated at Delphi, namely, the Theoxenia BA 59—61, —, ; see also Kurke pp.

This festival of the Theoxenia, in terms of my formulation, is stylized as a ritual feast in the myths of both Aesop and Neoptolemos, and the narration of the deaths of these two heroes at that feast serves the aetiological function of motivating not only their hero cults at Delphi but also the coexistence of these cults in the historical context of seasonally recurring celebrations of the festival. It was not only the hero cults of Aesop and Neoptolemos that coexisted in the historical context of the Theoxenia at Delphi.

Even the myths of these heroes, as I have argued, coexisted in this context. And such coexistence, I will now argue further, resulted not only from the historical contacts between the two cults in Delphi. It resulted also from a diachronic complementarity of high and low discourse corresponding respectively to the high and low social status of Neoptolemos and Aesop. In making this argument, I am saying that the low social status of discourse about the death of Aesop cannot be explained exclusively in historical terms, as Kurke would have it.

For her, there is no diachronic complementarity between the high and the low discourse. Rather, she thinks that the low discourse about Aesop at Delphi came into being as a social movement that challenged and contested the high discourse that upheld the hegemony of Delphi. For Kurke, this social movement was directed against Delphi and even against Apollo. She is engaging here in a historicist approach, not a diachronic one, as we see from her reconstruction of the Life of Aesop narrative by way of trying to explain its structural details in terms of historical details that she traces backward in time.

Searching for the beginnings as she tries to trace this hypothetical movement backward in time, she finds that she can reach back no further than the fifth century BCE p. As for a suitable ending, she seems to find no visible chronological signpost. By contrast, I argue that the low discourse represented by the Life of Aesop tradition is part of a larger system that includes high as well as low forms of discourse, and that this system integrates not only a lowly hero such as Aesop but also lofty heroes such as Neoptolemos or even Achilles.

And, as we will see later, a diachronic analysis indicates an Indo-European foundation for such a system of discourse. In making this argument, I adopt a combination of historical and diachronic approaches, which I contrast with the exclusively historicist approach of Kurke. For her, as we have seen, the low-mindedness of Aesop is only a political challenge to Delphi as the paragon of high-mindedness. And, just as she divorces the myth about the death of Aesop at Delphi from the myth about the death of Neoptolemos by claiming that the first is not really a myth but only a parody or critique of a myth, she divorces also the lowly discourse about the low-minded Aesop from the lofty discourse about the high-minded Neoptolemos as articulated by the correspondingly high-minded Pindar.

For Kurke, then, the fact that the low-minded discourse represented by Aesop is opposed to the high-minded discourse represented by poets such as Pindar shows that these two opposite forms of discourse are not related to each other. Resisting such a divorce, I argue that these two opposite forms are complementary and even cognate with each other.

The argument was first made in The Best of the Achaeans , where I studied the opposition between high and low social status in various forms of discourse dealing respectively with lofty and lowly heroes in respectively the first and the second halves of the book. The point I just made about high and low social status applies to Aesop in two ways.

That is because Aesop is not only a character in myths that narrate his life and times, as we see in the Life of Aesop traditions: he is also the speaker of the medium that typifies him, which is the Aesopic fable. Aesop is the reputed author of the Aesopic fable. The point I just made will be evident from a passage I am about to cite from Plato.

Even before I cite that passage, this point about Aesop as a lowly author leads me to confront a question I must ask right now about the medium of Aesop, which is the fable. The question is this: given that the conventional form of the fables of this lowly Aesop was prose in the classical period, can we say that prose itself was lowlier than poetry? My answer, as we will see, is negative: prose was not by its very nature lowlier than poetry, even if the prose of Aesop was considered to be a lowlier form than other forms of prose in the classical period.

In general, I will argue that both poetry and prose, throughout the prehistory and history of Greek verbal art, could vary from the highest to the lowest possible grades of social status. I start, then, by citing a classic example of the conventional view of Homer and Aesop as respectively lofty and lowly authors in the classical period.

One kind was a Hymn to Apollo , a form of poetry identified with Homer himself in the era of Plato. Appropriately, the part of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo that celebrates Apollo at Delos was most suited for performance at the festival of the god at Delos. The most exalted representative of poetry, Homer the Poet par excellence, is implicitly paired here in the Phaedo with his lowlife counterpart Aesop: both are described as exponents of muthos , which Socrates links with the discourse of poetry, contrasting it with logos , which he links with the discourse of philosophy.

And the use of the word logos here is just as revealing: it shows that logos is ordinarily to be understood as prose. As we see here from the wording of Plato, the form of the Aesopic fable as logos is ordinarily prose in the era of Socrates—but the content of fable as muthos makes it compatible with poetry. The point that I am making here will be relevant to what I have to say later about Herodotus.

This symposium is attended also by Socrates, who is still a young man at the time. Shall I, as a senior person, make the epideixis by telling a muthos to you all as junior persons, or shall I go through the train of thought by using logos?

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  • As we have seen from the passage I quoted from the Protagoras , fables are intrinsically muthoi in any case. That is, fables are poetry in content even when they are prose in form. But Socrates is playfully taking the muthoi at their word, as it were, by converting these muthoi , as fables, into poetry: if you intend to be poetic in content, he is saying, you should be poetic in form as well. And, explaining playfully that he is no expert in muthoi , in other words, that he is no muthologikos , Socrates says that he literal-mindedly went ahead and turned the muthoi of Aesop into poetic form.

    I will now show that fable, including the Aesopic fable, can be muthos not only in content but also in form. That is, fable as muthos can be narrated not only in prose but also in poetry. There is no need to assume, as Kurke does AC 76, 86, , , , n38 , that the fable was restricted to the medium of prose. And what I just said, as we will see, applies not only to fable in general but even to Aesopic fable in particular. This fable, reportedly narrated by Stesichorus to the people of Himera on the occasion of their choosing the tyrant Phalaris as the leader of their polis, is cited by Aristotle Rhetoric 2.

    In terms of her theory, which requires the discourse of Aesop to represent only the lower levels of society and to be outside of and opposed to the higher levels, this parallelism between the fables of Aesop and Stesichorus is unexplainable. By contrast, I can explain this parallelism diachronically as an indication of the complementarity of higher and lower forms of discourse as integral parts of an overall cultural system of making fables.

    Perry , which is attested already in the preclassical poetry of Archilochus F ed. The classical poetry of Aristophanes can accommodate not only the fables of Aesop but even the narrative frames of these fables. Additionally, no source material is quoted. I will now focus on another example of Aesopic fables embedded within the verses of Aristophanes. I will then follow up with a set of related examples. Perry , which is attested only in the Wasps of Aristophanes — Aesop responded to the dog by saying to her, and the iambic verses quote his words, that she would be sensible if she were barking for the purpose of getting wheat as a payment for putting a stop to her barking — Why wheat and not meat?

    In terms of the convoluted logic of the narrative, it is because it would not make any sense for the bitch to be barking so furiously at Aesop unless it was wheat that she wanted as payment for putting a stop to her angry barking. I think it is the convolutedness of the logic here that makes the narrative amusing. But the bitch is barking up the wrong tree, as it were, if what she really wants to get from Aesop is a cut of meat as a payoff for stopping her furious barking. Aesop has no meat to give to the bitch.

    And so the dog deserves to get nothing to eat by barking so angrily. Presumably, when Aesop left that feast, he had taken no meat with him. So if a bitch were to bark at Aesop angrily while he was leaving that feast, he would have no meat to give her as a payoff to put a stop to her barking. Because they had no land for agriculture, according to the scholia here, the people of Delphi had to depend for their sustenance on the meat they obtained from the sacrifices made by visiting sacrificers. One reason given for such an explanation is that Aesop himself is featured here as a character inside the narrative of the fable.

    Aesop's Fable unlocks how we think

    But that is not a good reason, I think, for doubting that this fable is genuinely Aesopic. Perry , where we see two verses of an elegiac couplet being spoken by Aesop himself to the people of Corinth: according to Diogenes Laertius 2. By giving the whole dinner to the bitch and not to the wife of Xanthos, Aesop has his revenge on a nasty aristocratic woman who had been tormenting him with her insults. In terms of this fable, then, Aesop has something of a reputation for giving generous handouts to bitches. What makes it a failure is the fact that it is badly applied.

    But that is actually good for comedy. The bad application is exactly what makes the fable work successfully in the comedy. The fact that the fable is badly applied is what gives the fable a comic twist. The narrator of the fable here has actually botched the application of his narrative to his own circumstances. And that is what makes the fable a failure in this context, since the narration of a fable can succeed only if its narrators are successful in applying it to suit their own intentions. That is the synchronic reality of applying fables. In the case of this particular narration in the Wasps , as I will now show, the narrator of the fable fails badly in applying the myth for his own purposes, but the comic effect of this failure makes it a most successful application in comedy as comedy.

    The unsophisticated father Philocleon is a partisan of the radical democrat Cleon, while the sophisticated son Bdelycleon is an elitist reactionary who takes the side of anyone opposed to Cleon. In this comedy of Aristophanes, produced in the year BCE, a prime political target for elitist reactionaries like the character Bdelycleon is the Athenian system of jury duty, which had been radically reshaped by Cleon in his role as the self-declared champion of common people.

    Parts of this paragraph have been reworded in Earlier in the comedy the elitist son had already managed to persuade the anti-elitist father to abandon his democratic addiction. Now the father will become an elitist reactionary, like his son. But now that Philocleon is persuaded to go over to the side of the elites, he becomes even more elitist than Bdelycleon. In a comic reversal of roles, the father Philocleon can now take on the role of a childish son while the son Bdelycleon can now take on the role of a somewhat more sensible father. Whereas Philocleon as a juror had been an advocate of the common people, he can now become a noisy parody of the elitist reactionaries.

    In the story told by the slave Wasps — , we see how Philocleon gets drunk and rowdy while attending the symposium. And then, on his way back home, he gets into violent fights with common people he happens to encounter along the way — Then, the morning after, Philocleon is confronted by the same common people he had assaulted during his nighttime rampage, and he is being served summonses by these people. So Philocleon is now faced with the prospect of having to appear in court to answer charges and be judged by the same kinds of jurors he once had been himself before he went over to the other side.

    The first claimant to confront Philocleon with legal threats is a woman whose profession is selling bread, and she accuses him of violently knocking to the ground the loaves of bread she was carrying in her breadbasket. The alleged deed was committed by Philocleon in his drunken state of wanton violence as he was making his way home after attending the symposium Wasps —, — Philocleon, now hoping to avoid being taken to court for damages, tries to assuage the angry woman — In the present context as well, the character of Philocleon is trying to act here like a sophisticated member of elite society.

    Just the opposite. And that is because the application of the fable is disastrously inappropriate and even malaprop. Though Philocleon would have no motive here for insulting the woman, he manages to insult her anyway. In his pretentious attempt to assuage her by resorting to the sophisticated discourse of telling fables, he is stuck with using words that are typical of that discourse, and those words will only get him into further trouble.

    I now give three examples of such wording, which are all typical of the fable. The only part of the fable that can be made compatible with his situation is where Aesop says that the bitch would be well advised to use her barking to get wheat. At least, this part is compatible to the extent that Aesop recommends wheat as a form of compensation. After all, wheat would be a suitable compensation for the woman who is suing Philocleon, since wheat is presumably the primary ingredient of the bread that she sells for a living.

    But the problem is, the intended parallel brings with it an unintended parallel. The intended parallelism between the need for wheat in the fable and the need for wheat in the present situation brings with it an unintended parallelism between the bitch in the fable and the woman in the present situation. The woman is of course outraged when she hears that a parallel has been drawn between her and the angry bitch.

    The first two of these three fables are narrated by Philocleon to a man whom he assaulted on the previous night and who now claims he had suffered a skull fracture from the assault. And we have seen that he fails in his narration of each one of these fables because he is simply unable to apply any of them in a sophisticated way. Seeing his lack of sophistication, we need to ask ourselves: where on earth would Philocleon have learned these four fables in the first place?

    The answer is, he learned them at that same symposium that got him so drunk on the night before—and that got him into so much trouble after he had left the party to make his way home. At an earlier point in the comedy, such an experience of learning fables at a symposium is previewed in an exchange between Philocleon and Bdelycleon, where the father is being advised by the son to start consorting with elites at aristocratic symposia.

    For they can talk the plaintiff out of taking action. And the fable is evidently a medium of choice to be used by the elites to advance their own purposes. As I have shown, then, from the overall context of the four fables narrated in the Wasps of Aristophanes, such fables could be used as the elevated and sophisticated discourse of powerful elites.

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