Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aesop's Fables

I've been reading Aesop's Fables to the boys lately. Elliot spots the lazy and greedy characters in The Dog and the Shadow, The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg and The Grasshopper and the Ants from a mile away. "He should have been happy with what he had," Elliot sighs and shakes his head after the completion of a fable. The dog and the man wanted more, grabbed for it and lost everything. The grasshopper smugly thought he wouldn't have to prepare for winter as the ants were doing. He gets it. You don't get something for nothing, and when you do, just be thankful. (that sounds a bit harsh though - just be grateful you're not living on the street, kid).

Now if we could get him to apply that knowledge to his own life. Just because Asher slept in our bed last night, it doesn't mean we love him more. Yes, it appears that Asher received a millimeter more of juice in his cup, but you'll live, right? To Elliot, the grass is nearly always greener in Asher's realm -- which segues into "I never get what I want" lament. I can't get no satisfaction. It will dawn on him someday that he doesn't need more, or something better. Right?

Facts about Aesop from Wikipedia:
The place of Aesop's birth was and still is disputed: Thrace, Phrygia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Samos, Athens, Sardis and Amorium all claimed the honour. According to the sparse information gathered about him from references to him in several Greek works (he was mentioned by Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon and Aristotle), Aesop was a slave for someone called Xanthus (Ιάδμων), who resided on the island of Samos. Aesop must have been freed, for he conducted the public defence of a certain Samian demagogue (Aristotle, Rhetoric, ii. 20). He subsequently lived at the court of Croesus, where he met Solon, and dined in the company of the Seven Sages of Greece with Periander at Corinth.

According to the historian Herodotus, Aesop met with a violent death at the hands of the inhabitants of Delphi, though the cause was not stated. Various suggestions were made by later writers, such as his insulting sarcasms, the embezzlement of money entrusted to him by Croesus for distribution at Delphi, and his alleged sacrilege of a silver cup. A pestilence that ensued was blamed on his execution, and the Delphians declared their willingness to make compensation, which, in default of a nearer connection, was claimed by Iadmon, grandson of Aesop's former master.

Popular stories surrounding Aesop were assembled in a vita prefixed to a collection of fables under his name, compiled by Maximus Planudes, a fourteenth-century monk. He was by tradition extremely ugly and deformed, which is the sole basis for making a grotesque marble figure in the Villa Albani, Rome, a "portrait of Aesop". This biography had actually existed a century before Planudes. It appeared in a thirteenth century manuscript found in Florence. However, according to another Greek historian Plutarch's account of the symposium of the Seven Sages, at which Aesop was a guest, there were many jests on his former servile status, but nothing derogatory was said about his personal appearance. Aesop's deformity was further disputed by the Athenians, who erected in his honour a noble statue by the sculptor Lysippus.

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