What in the world is happening here?
What’s the story? Why is Aesop’s head so big? Any commentary or an image of higher quality?
Hi Dennis! Almost certainly Aesop (who was notoriously deformed; that’s why we can guess it’s him there) – and I agree with the great notion proposed by Baker that the animal there is a dog, and it’s an image associated with the story of the dog and the blacksmiths – Baker points out that they seem to be sitting on anvils, with Aesop holding a hammer. Do you have access to JSTOR? Here’s Baker’s article; you can find it there! :-)
A Portrait of Aesop. Howard Baker. The Sewanee Review, Vol. 77, No. 4 (Autumn, 1969), pp. 557-590
Κύων καὶ χαλκεῖς
The Dog and the Blacksmiths = Perry 415
Ἦν τις κύων χαλκέων τινῶν ἐν οἰκίᾳ διάγων. κἀκείνων μὲν ἐργαζομένων οὗτος εἰς ὕπνον ἐτρέπετο, εἰς ἑστίασιν δὲ καθεζομένων ἐγίνετο ἔξυπνος καὶ τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ κυρίοις χαριέντως προσεπέλαζεν. οἱ δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἔλεγον “πῶς τῷ μὲν ψόφῳ τῶν βαρυτάτων σφυρῶν οὐδ’ ὅλως ἐξυπνίζῃ, τῷ δὲ βραχυτάτῳ κρότῳ τῶν μυλοδόντων ταχέως διεγείρῃ;”
Οὗτος δηλοῖ ὡς καὶ ἄνθρωποι ἀνήκοοι, ἐφ’ οἷς δῆθεν ὠφελεῖσθαι καραδοκοῦσι, ταχέως τούτοις καὶ ὑπακούουσιν, ἐν οἷς δ’ ἀπαρέσκονται ἀπαθεῖς πάντῃ καθίστανται.
I knew you’d have the answer, Laura. Thanks. It’s funny: before I read what I could (which suggested the fox) I described it to my wife as a dog. Good stuff.
That article by Baker is such a delight – there is not that much scholarship on Aesop and sometimes the scholarship that you find sounds like it was written by people who chose to work on Aesop for strategic reasons rather than out of an actual personal interest in the topic – but such is not the case with Baker: that article is FULL of Aesopic enthusiasm. I was glad your post gave me a chance to look at it again. :-)
the CAMPVS, est. 2004.