Phaedrus, the fabulist

(2479 words)
  • Jeremy Lefkowitz (Swarthmore College )

Phaedrus is the author of our earliest surviving collection of Aesopic fables. The fragmentary transmission of the Phaedrian corpus has left us parts of five books, plus an appendix (see below), for a total of more than 100 fables in Latin verse. Phaedrus opens by claiming he is a mere versifier of Aesop (1.prol.1-2), the legendary 6th-century Greek fabulist, but by his fifth and final book he has declared himself an innovator and an important Latin poet in his own right (5.prol.). Despite such proclamations, Phaedrus’ reputation suffered in Rome—he was virtually ignored by contemporaries and his fables were subsequently prosified and passed off as the work of others in late antiquity. But Phaedrus was without question …

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Lefkowitz, Jeremy. "Phaedrus, the fabulist". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 September 2013
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]