A comparative approach to beast fables in Greek songmaking, Part 3: A dog’s craving for meat as a signal foretelling the death of Aesop
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2019.06.11. "A comparative approach to beast fables in Greek songmaking, Part 3: A dog’s craving for meat as a signal foretelling the death of Aesop." Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractIt is a commonplace in storytelling to picture the stealing of meat by a hungry dog, as we see in the illustration for this posting. After all, dogs have a natural craving for meat—also for other rich sources of protein, such as cheese. In Part 3 here, I pick up from where I left off in Part 2, where I was analyzing the fable “Aesop and the Bitch,” printed as Aesop Fable 423 in the edition of Perry (1952)—the story of which is attested only in the Wasps of Aristophanes, lines 1401–1405. In the internal logic of the story, the dog is barking furiously at Aesop because it craves to devour a portion of meat that Aesop is presumably carrying. I say presumably because Aesop has just left an evening feast, and so he must be carrying away with him a “doggie bag.” What I just expressed in colloquial American English does seem apt for describing the presumption—at least, in the inner logic of the story. But Aesop has no meat to give to the hungry dog, and the barking won’t stop. So, what will happen now, if neighbors are roused out of their evening’s repose amidst all this continued barking? Won’t they presume that the dog is barking at a thief in the night? Well, if the setting for this story happens to be Delphi, as I think it is, then Aesop will now be accused of stealing. Then an improvised jury of some kind will swiftly find him guilty. And then, the next thing you know, he will be put to death.
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