I got an email from a Latin teacher, Justin Slocum Bailey, who has added a section to his beautiful website, Indwelling Language, which contains his audio recordings of Aesop's fables taken from a book I published online a few years ago, Mille Fabulae et Una: 1001 Aesop's Fables in Latin. Justin is such a great performer and he offers the fables in both classical pronunciation AND ecclesiastical pronunciation! How cool is that? I would say that is very cool indeed! He doesn't just tell people that yes, there are in fact many ways to pronounce Latin (sadly, a subject much disputed amongst Latin teachers)... he shows them! Even if you don't know Latin, you can appreciate what a great reader Justin is by taking a listen: Indwelling Language Audio.
It's through the blog that I got to connect with Justin and so many other wonderful Latin teachers and students, along with the hundreds of people I will never know directly... but with whom I am connected nevertheless through our love of Latin fables and proverbs, a love that intersects at the blog.
As for the book, oh, the book is a weird one, one that no traditional publisher would ever touch, but I am so proud of it: it is the single biggest collection of Aesop's fables in Latin (well, probably in any language!) — 1001 Latin fables, without duplicates, drawn from an enormous array of Latin sources (classical, medieval, and Renaissance along with even more modern sources like my beloved François-Joseph Desbillons), sources that I was able to discover thanks to Google Books and other digital libraries online.
What's more, I did something no academic publisher would ever have allowed: I re-crafted the fables to make them useful to Latin students, turning the poetry into prose and shortening the fables so that none of them is longer than 120 words (see p. 426 of the book for a detailed discussion of my editorial process). You can find out more about the book here at this massive blog which contains all 1001 fables as linkable blog posts (very useful for Justin's purposes): Mille Fabulae et Una: 1001 Aesop's Fables in Latin. There's also a free PDF download of the book itself.
So, I published this book in 2010. My hope was that it would, at last, convince my school to let me develop an online Latin course... but that hope failed. After ten years of asking permission to create an online Latin course, I have stopped asking and yes, I've given up all hope of ever teaching Latin at my school again. But that doesn't mean I have given up hoping for other good things; in fact, one of my personal mottoes is: Spes ultima dea (Hope is the last goddess). And as soon as Justin let me know about the audio yesterday, I immediately thought of the Biblical proverb that Howard Rheingold had quoted in one of the Connected Courses webinars early on: "Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days." (Mitte panem tuum super transeuntes aquas, quia post tempora multa invenies illum.) So, indeed, after four years, here I find the fables again... this time in lovely audio form!
Since the first fable in the book happens to express something of my own life philosophy, I'll close with the words of the fable itself, in both Latin and in English (bibliography and other notes at the blog):
1. Leo et Canis. Occurrit canis leoni et iocatur, “Quid tu, miser, exhaustus inedia, percurris silvas et devia? Me specta pinguem ac nitidum, atque haec non labore consequor, sed otio.” Tum leo, “Habes tu quidem tuas epulas, sed habes stolide etiam vincula. Tu servus esto, qui servire potes; equidem sum liber, nec servire volo.”
1. The Lion and the Dog. A dog runs into a lion and teases him, "Wretched creature, worn out with lack of food, why do you run through the woods and lonely places? Look at me, fat and shiny. What's more, I obtain these things not by work, but at my leisure." The lion replies, "You do indeed have your feasts, but you also stupidly wear a chain. Go ahead and be a slave, you who are able to do that; as for me, I am free, and I will not be a slave."
I think the moral of that fable speaks for itself. And, even better, it resonates with Simon's lion post from a week or so ago. Looking for more lions? Go visit Simon here: Zootopia.
And let us now sing the praises of all small things, loosely joined! :-)