When I think of Aesop, like most of us I’m sure, I think of the cute animals stories with neat little morals to share with the kiddos. Proverbial Aesop by Dr. Chandler Phillips gives us Aesop from a slightly different, more grown up perspective.
Phillips is a well educated man and a lover of the Greek and Latin languages and cultures, and this shines through in his writing. So much so that Proverbial Aesop may come off as more academic than a pleasure read. However, it is not dryly academic by any means.
I love to study different cultures, past and present. I love to get to know the people, the customs, and to read the stories that they loved to read, tell, and relate to. This is the Aesop that Phillips presents to us. Each proverb that he shares, whether relating to animals, humans, or objects, he backs up with another quote or story from the culture of that time. These exemplify the types of stories or examples that that proverb might bring to the mind of its native listener.
Phillip begins Proverbial Aesop with a bit of back story on Aesop himself. I always pictured him as a philosopher teacher type much like Socrates. Let’s just say, I missed the mark a bit on that one. He was more of a slave, and an unattractive one (by historical reports, it seems) at that. I loved that about this book. My romanticized thinking was brought back down to earth and then challenged to take of in a new direction with a better view of the man, his great wisdom, and the culture from which he came.
As the book is broken up into categorized (animal, human, etc.) chapters of proverbs and the proverbs are simply listed and referenced back to their own times without author commentary, the reading is easy to take in bit by bit, thinking on a proverb for a time before returning for the next. It is the perfect type of book to take with you or leave in spots around the house where you know you’ll only be able to read a short bit here and there.
Proverbial Aesop can also give you a brief introduction into more ancient literature. Perhaps you will be inspired to read more Greek myths or crack open some Plato. Who knows! Phillips’ introduction into the more grown up Aesop might just inspire you to jump in to some great classic reads this year!
Alyssa Katanic is a wife and homeschooling mother of 6 children under 10 years old. She loves reading and collecting great books to share with others and knows that one can never have too many!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Chandler Phillips. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.