Myth-Folklore Unit: Fables of La Fontaine

Overview. While the fables of Aesop started out as oral folklore, over the centuries many poets have retold the fables in literary verse. And, without a doubt, the most famous "Aesopic poet" would be Jean de La Fontaine, a 17th-century French poet whose brilliant, witty verse fables are now known all over the world. In this unit, you will read some of La Fontaine's fables as rendered in English verse (from Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks by W. T. Larned and Fables of La Fontaine by Elizur Wright), and I hope you will have time to read at least some of the poems out loud to appreciate the rhymes and word play which the English translators have employed to capture the charms of La Fontaine's French. Another distinctive feature of La Fontaine's fables is that, in addition to the Greek and Roman stories, he also borrowed from the storytelling traditions of India. So, you will find stories here that go back to ancient Greece and Rome, along with tales from ancient India too!

Language. This unit consists of English verse translations of La Fontaine's poetry, closely imitating La Fontaine's wonderful rhyming style.

Story Length: Aesop's fables are quite short, so there are multiple stories on each page. Two different translators are included: Larned's poems are intended for children, so they tend to be shorter, while the Wright translation consists of longer poems.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Fables of La Fontaine. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Additional Resources. There is an Aesop Index page for all the fables in the various Aesop units in this course, and you can use this link to see the four different Aesop units listed on a single page. If you would like to see all 600 of the fables that are part of the Greek and Roman Aesop tradition, you can find a listing at

Free audiobook available:

  1. Foolish Animals (Larned, with audio)
  2. More Foolish Animals (Larned, with audio)
  3. Foxes (Larned, with audio)
  4. Birds (Larned, with audio)
  5. Insects (Larned, with audio)
  6. Foolish People (Larned, with audio)
  7. Foxes and Wolves (Wright)
  8. Horses (Wright)
  9. Dogs (Wright)
  10. Cats (Wright)
  1. Mice (Wright)
  2. More Mice (Wright)
  3. The Tortoise; The Bat (Wright)
  4. Frogs (Wright)
  5. The Swallow; The Eagle (Wright)
  6. Man and Beast (Wright)
  7. The Astrologer; The Dairywoman (Wright)
  8. The God Mercury; Hercules (Wright)
  9. Sun and Wind; Belly and Members (Wright)