Guide to Literary Terms

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Fable

Fable - a short, simple story, usually with animals as characters, designed to teach a moral truth. Such a story often concludes with an epigram containing the moral. Allegories, parables, and fables with animals as the principal characters are sometimes called beast fables. Occasionally, the term is applied to stories about supernatural persons, to accounts of extraordinary events, to legends and myths, and to outright falsehoods.

The word is from the Latin fabula which was derived from fari, meaning “to speak.”

The first collection of fables is ascribed to Aesop, who is said to have been a slave in the Sixth Century B.C. in Greece.

George Orwell’s political satire Animal Farm (1945) is a fable.

see: allegory, folklore, parable, proverb