Most of us grew up with the tales of woodland creatures and their underlying morals found in Aesop's Fables. However, the familiar versions of the stories attributed to this enigmatic and astute storyteller are actually based on the Roman slave Phaedrus's adaptations of Aesop's earlier works. But even Phaedrus's renderings have been rewritten so extensively over the centuries that they no longer resemble the originals. In Aesop's Human Zoo, legendary Cambridge classicist John Henderson puts together a surprising set of up-front poems that translate fifty sharp fables by Phaedrus into terse, colloquial English. Providing unusual insights into the heart of Roman civilization, these clever poems open up odd avenues of ancient lore and life as they explore social types and physical aspects of the body, often mocking the limitations of human nature and offering vulgar or promiscuous interpretations of common actions. Beginning to advanced classicists and Latin scholars will appreciate the original Latin text provided in this bilingual edition.
And the inclusion of a number of witty nineteenth-century wood engravings by Thomas Bewick, the father of modern English book illustration, renders the collection complete. Including strange proverbs and satirical anecdotes, filled with saucy naughtiness and awful puns, Aesop's Human Zoo will amuse you with its eccentricity and impress you with its undeniably accurate translations and shrewdly (often brutally) candid messages. The entertainment offered in this volume is truly a novelty - a good and knowing laugh through classical literature.
John Henderson is reader in Latin literature at King's College, Cambridge. He has published many books, including Classics: A Very Short Introduction and Fighting for Rome: Poets and Caesars, History and Civil War.