Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life

Series Title

Oxford Handbooks


This chapter examines the tensions between the symbolic valence of anthropomorphic animals and authentic concerns about real animals in fables of ancient times. It provides an overview of sources and scholarly approach in this study of the Graeco-Latin fable and explores the boundaries between human and animal in early Greek fable-telling. This chapter suggests that the fable tradition occasionally eschews symbolism and anthropomorphism entirely, which reveals a deep and abiding interest in animal behaviour and in material that could be considered as natural history. It also mentions that the fable was linked to the lower classes and affiliated with slaves in antiquity.

Published By

Oxford University Press


G. L. Campbell


This material was originally published in The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life edited by Gordon Lindsay Campbell, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

Reproduced with permission of the Licensor through PLSclear.

Included in

Classics Commons