Saturday, August 14, 2010

Editorial Notes

The following is an explanation of the main editorial principles I followed in preparing the fables for Mille Fabulae et Una. Most importantly, all the original sources are online, so if you want to see unedited versions of the fables, find the link for the fable you are interested in here in the Links to Original Fable Sources.

Selection Criteria. Most of the fables exist in multiple Latin versions, but I have chosen just one version for this book. The criteria I used were length (shorter is better), style (easier to read is better), and liveliness (use of direct speech is better, preferably with an endomythium).

Abbreviated Fables. One of the hallmarks of the fable genre is brevity. Some authors, of course, expand on the stories at great length. This was true of ancient authors (some of the fables of both Phaedrus and Babrius are quite long), and this has been especially true for literary authors in modern times, following La Fontaine's example. For the purposes of this book, however, I wanted to keep the fables short, not more than 120 words in length. So, when a fable was over 120 words in length, I shortened it. There are a total of 140 abbreviated fables in the book, and they are clearly indicated in the Notes. Since all the sources I have used are online, you can read the full-length version of these abbreviated fables at your leisure.

Poetry into Prose. In order to make this book as accessible and easy to read as possible, I decided to use prose fables only. So, following in the spirit of those medieval authors who adapted the Latin verse fables of Phaedrus into the prose fables that we now know as the Romulus tradition, I adapted approximately two hundred verse fables into prose for this book; the Notes for each fable indicate clearly which fables were originally written in verse. Again, because all the sources I have used are online, you can choose to read the verse originals if you prefer; the source notes indicate which fables were originally written in verse form.

Spelling and Punctuation. There was an enormous range of spelling and punctuation conventions used in the original sources. I have tried to standardize the spelling and punctuation, including the use of quotation marks for direct speech. I hope that this approach will make the fables accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible. If you are curious to see what the original publications looked like, you can view the books online. Some of the original books were illustrated, which makes it a real pleasure to page through these old books in digital form.

Macrons. I debated long and hard about whether or not to include macrons in this book. I myself do not recommend the use of macrons outside of textbooks and dictionaries, but many Latin teachers are committed to using macrons in all Latin texts. I finally decided against using macrons, but in the process of making my decision, I prepared hundreds of fables marked with macrons. To see those fables, visit my Ictibus blog at Ictibus.BlogSpot.com.

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