Article published in:Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society
Edited by Brian J. Levy and Paul Wackers
[Reinardus 9] 1996
► pp. 161–178
The (Pseudo-) Ignatius Tetrastichs
Byzantine Fables "D'une élégance laconique"
Abstract This article focuses on one of the sources used by Jean de La Fontaine, viz. a collection of Byzantine fable quatrains. The first part discusses the problematic attribution of their authorship. They were certainly not written by Babrius, as many (including La Fontaine) believed, but, rather by Ignatius (Diaconus). Metrical considerations, however, make it plausible that many Tetrastichs have spuriously been attributed to him. The article's second part challenges the negative judgements that scholars have passed on the Tetrastichs. This reassessment shows that they are not only stylistically more polished than these critics found, but are also much more original and can far better be enjoyed provided one realizes that they were composed for connoisseurs. The paper contains also a Synopsis of Graeco-Roman fable collections (as well as La Fontaine's collection) in the form of an Appendix.
Published online: 31 December 1996