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In this essay, I examine instances of fable-telling throughout the Life of Aesop in a new light by using linguistic theories from the subfield of Pragmatics in my analysis. I suggest that the author’s purpose in composing the Life of Aesop is to instruct his audience on how to use fable effectively, and that Aesop serves as both the positive and negative example for this lesson. I begin by considering the nature of fable and demonstrate why it is necessary to define fable in reference to the social action which it performs. I then address the complex position of fable in antiquity and discuss how the author convinces his audience to release any negative perceptions regarding fable which they might have, thus ensuring that his audience is willing to heed his instruction on how to use fable. By beginning with Aesop’s successful instances of fable-telling and then demonstrating his unsuccessful attempts, the author shows his audience that the key to a useful fable is the proper evaluation of one’s social context, and that the value of the genre lies in the skillfulness of its application.
McCafferty, Martha Hamilton, "Fable in Action: A Discourse Analysis Approach to the Life of Aesop" (2021). Honors Theses. 1814.
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