Fable, a short story in the popular tradition of Greece and other ancient cultures. Fables found their way into literature as illustrative examples; later they were compiled into collections.
They usually deal with a conflict in which animals speak and intervene, but the characters may also be plants, sundry objects, men, or gods, Fable normally deals with the triumph of the strong, but also portrays the cunning of the weak and their mockery of, or triumph over, the powerful. Fables also stress the impossibility of changing nature; some give aetiological explanations. Most often there is a comic element; sometimes the ‘situation’ of a protagonist is depicted, from which the audience may draw analogies.
It is therefore impossible to offer a fixed definition. The boundaries of fable intermesh with those of myth, animal proverbs, anecdotes, tales, and *chreiai. Fable is normally fiction, but does at times use anecdotes about real characters. It reflects popular literature and may satirize the values and abuses of the dominant social classes.Less
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