Wednesday, March 26, 2014

William Caxton, Language, and Aesop

William Caxton, merchant, writer, and printer, introduced the printing press into England in 1476.  He is recognized as a technician who greatly influenced the development of the English language, in part by drawing together the many dialects used at the time, “standardizing the language,” so to speak.  While he may not have been the greatest translator, he was a prolific printer, bringing many dozens of books to the English citizenry.

March 26, 1484, Caxton published his English translation of Aesop's Fables.
In a 2002 poll by the BBC, Caxton was listed as one of the top one hundred British Heroes.*

William Caxton c.1420 - 1492  RIP

Now I am inclined to present one of Aesop's tales here, albeit in a more modern English translation.

The Ass in the Lion's Skin

An ass once found a Lion's skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry.  He put it on and went towards his native village.  All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day.  In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then everyone knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgeling for the fright he had caused.  And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said:  "Ah, I knew you by your voice."

Fine clothes may disguise, but
silly words will disclose a fool.
Aesop 620BC - 564BC RIP

You may read many of Aesop's fables at this site:


Sharkbytes said...

Interesting tidbit! And I like how a "technician" was the one who changed things not a bureaucrat or a philosopher.

Vee said...

Good choice, Caxton as a hero.

Secondary Roads said...

Was an ape involved? Have you read The Final Battle from Tales of Narnia by C S Lewis?

Perhaps if he'd kept his mouth shut, others wouldn't have found out that he was an ass.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, little remembered, Caxton nonetheless was an important figure in our history (language).

Vee, true. Cf. some of today's "heroes" so-called.

Chuck, I, like Susan, stopped believing before The Last Battle occured. My loss.

Grace said...

Keep your mouth shut and people may think you are a fool, open it and they will know it. - Something my father always said.

vanilla said...

Grace, and good counsel it was, too.