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The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian from National Library of Scotland [Licence: CC-BY-NC-SA]

Aesop’s fables, supposedly written by a slave in the 6th century BCE, have remained popular. There are 725 fables in total, although some are better known than others e.g. tortoise and the hare. Given the nature of the fables, their simplicity, brevity and the animals behaving like humans, it’s perhaps not surprising that they came to be associated with children, but there is evidence that they were also used as subversive tales against the government of the time.

The fables can be traced back to Sumerian proverbs with animal protagonists and advice for a moral life.

The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian: a 1571 edition of Robert Henryson’s translation of ‘Aesop’s fables’ into Scots. http://digital.nls.uk/morall-fabillis-of-esope-the-phyrgian/pageturner.cfm?id=74507410