Seven centuries elapsed before the next notice is found of the Fables of Aesop.
He is charged on the one hand with having had before him a copy of Babrias (to whom we shall have occasion to refer at greater length in the end of this Preface), and to have had the bad taste "to transpose," or to turn his poetical version into prose: and he is asserted, on the other hand, never to have seen the Fables of Aesop at all, but to have himself invented and made the fables which he palmed off under the name of the famous Greek fabulist.
The eventual re-introduction, however, of these Fables of Aesop to their high place in the general literature of Christendom, is to be looked for in the West rather than in the East.
Martin Luther translated twenty of these fables, and was urged by Melancthon to complete the whole; while Gottfried Arnold, the celebrated Lutheran theologian, and librarian to Frederick I, king of Prussia, mentions that the great Reformer valued the Fables of Aesop next after the Holy Scriptures.
The greatest advance, however, towards a re-introduction of the Fables of Aesop to a place in the literature of the world, was made in the early part of the seventeenth century.
This volume of Nevelet forms a complete "Corpus Fabularum Aesopicarum;" and to his labors Aesop owes his restoration to universal favor as one of the wise moralists and great teachers of mankind.
This intimation has since given rise to a series of inquiries, the knowledge of which is necessary, in the present day, to a full understanding of the true position of Aesop in connection with the writings that bear his name.
At whatever time he wrote his version of Aesop, by some strange accident it seems to have entirely disappeared, and to have been lost sight of.
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