Fabulae Phaedri (“Phaedrus’ Fables”) is a Latin student edition of select fables written by the freed Roman slave Phaedrus in the 1st Century AD. These fables had originally been written in Greek and attributed to the legendary Athenian slave Aesop, who is said to have used animal fables as a kind of secret language to speak his mind safely while under the watchful eye of his masters. Phaedrus, however, was the first to render them into verse, and it is Phaedrus’ Latin edition that was used extensively throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance and that defined Aesop’s fables as we still think of them today.
These fables are not merely moralistic animal stories aimed at entertaining young children. They deal primarily with universal issues of human nature, power dynamics, and especially deceit— making them as relevant in our time as when they were originally written. As such, they provide excellent material not only for reading the original Latin in college and high school, but also for framing student discussion about politics, business, and moral philosophy. The richness of their content makes the effort of working through the original Latin well worth the trouble.
Phaedrus’ Latin is by no means easy, but the short length of his fables makes them entirely feasible to work through with students in class. Furthermore, this edition is especially designed to make the text accessible to those who have just finished learning Latin grammar. First, the select fables here are presented in order of difficulty—allowing students to acclimate gradually to Phaedrus’ word order. Second, each fable is accompanied by facing-page vocabulary, grammatical, and contextual prompts that guide students into discovering the text’s meaning on their own—rather than simply giving them answers. Finally, a complete Latin- Latin lexicon is provided to help students use simpler Latin to understand more difficult Latin.
The Picta Dicta Latin Reader series is a collection of grammar-level-based Latin readers suitable for students that are working through the Latin Primer Series or another Latin grammar curriculum. Each reader comes with a complete vocabulary and Picta Dicta’s app-based vocabulary and grammar exercises.