People - Ancient Greece: Babrius
Ancient Greek author of a collection of fables.
Babrius in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Βάβριος) or Babrias (Βαβρίας). The compiler of a comprehensive collection of Aesop's fables in choliambic metre. The book is probably to be assigned to the beginning of the first century B.C. Until 1842 nothing was known of Babrius but fragments and paraphrases, bearing the name of Aesopus. (See Aesopus.) But in that year a Greek, Minoides Minas, discovered 123 of the original fables in the monastery on Mt. Athos. In 1857, he brought out 95 more, the genuineness of which was disputed by Cobet and other scholars. These were edited by Lewis in 1859, and are included in Bergk's Anthologia Lyrica, 4th ed. (1883). Babrius has been edited also by Lachmann (Berlin, 1845), and, with additions from the Bodleian and Vatican MSS., by Gitlbauer (Vienna, 1882). The style of Babrius is simple and pleasing, the tone fresh and lively. The fables of Phaedrus (q.v.) were imitated, with considerable closeness to the original, from the μῦθοι or μυθίαμβοι of Babrius. An excellent text, with dissertations, notes, and lexicon, is that of Rutherford (London, 1883).
Babrius in Wikipedia
Babrius was the author of a collection of fables written in Greek. He collected many of the fables that are known to us today simply as Aesop's fables (see Aesop's fables).
Practically nothing is known of him. He is supposed to have been a Roman, whose gentile name was possibly Valerius, living in the East, probably in Syria, where the fables seem first to have gained popularity. The address to "a son of King Alexander" has caused much speculation, with the result that dates varying between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD have been assigned to Babrius. The Alexander referred to may have been Alexander Severus (AD 222‑235), who was fond of having literary men of all kinds about his court. "The son of Alexander" has further been identified with a certain Branchus mentioned in the fables, and it is suggested that Babrius may have been his tutor; probably, however, Branchus is a purely fictitious name. There is no mention of Babrius in ancient writers before the beginning of the 3rd century AD. As appears from surviving papyrus fragments, his work is to be dated before ca 200 AD (and probably not much earlier, for his language and style seem to show that he belonged to that period).
The first critic who made Babrius more than a mere name was Richard Bentley, in his Dissertation on the Fables of Aesop. In a careful examination of these prose Aesopian fables, which had been handed down in various collections from the time of Maximus Planudes, Bentley discovered traces of versification, and was able to extract a number of verses which he assigned to Babrius. Tyrwhitt (De Babrio, 1776) followed up the researches of Bentley, and for some time the efforts of scholars were directed towards reconstructing the metrical original of the prose fables.
In 1842 the Greek Minoides Mynas came upon a manuscript of Babrius in the convent of St Laura on Mount Athos, now in the British Museum. This manuscript contained 123 fables out of the supposed original number, 160. They are arranged alphabetically, but break off at the letter O. The fables are written in choliambic, i.e. limping or imperfect iambic verse, having a spondee as the last foot, a metre originally appropriated to satire. The style is extremely good, the expression being terse and pointed, the versification correct and elegant, and the construction of the stories is fully equal to that in the prose versions. The genuineness of this collection of the fables was generally admitted by scholars. In 1857 Minas professed to have discovered at Mount Athos another manuscript containing 94 fables and a preface. As the monks refused to sell this manuscript, he made a copy of it, which was sold to the British Museum, and was published in 1859 by Sir G Cornewall Lewis. This, however, was soon proved to be a forgery. Six more fables were brought to light by P Knoll from a Vatican manuscript (edited by A Eberhard, Analecta Babriana, 1879).
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