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Aesop is said to be a slave who lived in Greece in the 6th century BC. He has been remembered for his wonderful stories, called fables. He used animal characters to show human behavior and to teach a lesson, or a moral, about that behavior. One of his most popular tales, for example, is "The Tortoise and the Hare," with the moral "It is not just speed that wins the race."

 

Aesop's fables spread throughout the world by word of mouth, retold for hundreds of years. Eventually they were written down and have been translated into many languages.

 

相传伊索是生活在公元前6世纪的一个希腊奴隶,擅长讲故事。现在的《伊索寓言》是后人根据口头流传的寓言以及陆续发现的古希腊寓言传抄本编订的。《伊索寓言》大多是动物故事,其中的《狼与小羊》《狮子与野驴》等用豺狼、狮子等凶恶的动物比喻人间的权贵,揭露他们的专横和残暴,反映了平民或奴隶的思想感情;《乌龟与兔》《牧人与野山羊》等总结了人们的生活经验,教人处世和做人的道理。伊索寓言形式短小精悍,比喻恰当,形象生动,对许多欧洲文学大师的创作产生了深远的影响。

 

(本文选自人民教育出版社《中学英语文化背景知识手册》,2008年8月第1版)

    
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