Francisci-Josephi Desbillons e Societate Jesu Fabularum Aesopiarum Libri Quinque Priores Diligenter Emendati
. J. Barbou . Paris (Bodemann identifier 141 )
Language note: Latin
Language note: Latin
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Here is a second copy of this book by my favorite Jesuit fabulist. It seems to be lacking the frontispiece at the beginning and the errata page at the end. The binding is different from my original copy, which cost almost three times as much as this copy. I keep this book in the collection because it belongs to the subcollection I am developing of Desbillons copies. As I wrote there, this is Bodemann #141.1. This seems to be the first Desbillons edition in Bodemann. It is in two parts; apparently Part 1, including the first five books, was first published in 1754. To it is now added Part 2, which includes five further books. It is not clear to me what other edition lay behind this third edition, with Desbillons' comment quam solam auctor agnoscit, the only edition that the writer acknowledges. An appendix includes twenty-two joci, five narrationculae, and selecta philosophorum veterum placita. There are also alphabetical indices of fables and jokes at the back and various permissions and approbations, including, of course, that of the Jesuit provincial superior. As Bodemann points out, there are here 348 verse fables with ending moralisations. Most is inherited material. As Desbillons will do in later editions, he tries to recognize borrowing wherever he knows he has borrowed. Following on this present edition is an edition of fifteen books of fables in two volumes in 1768 and a later edition of the same in 1789, also in two volumes. Desbillons offers notes under the fable texts on literary parallels and sources, vocabulary, style, and animal life. As I mention of the later volumes, Desbillons' Phaedrus-like fables are remarkable for their clarity. Seldom have I encountered Latin so intelligible on the first reading. Thus II 15 does GGE well in five lines. My impression of Desbillons' own contributions, like I 7, Pueruli Fratres, is that they are good but not overpowering. This fable has a boy weeping over his sick brother one day but refusing him a share of his cookies the next day. Upbraided, he answers that nature gives tears, not cookies. Several of the fables seem to have a sad tone. Thus II 29 has a sick man's wife call on death, seeming to offer herself as his victim if necessary. When death appears, she gives up her husband immediately. The introduction covers more than twenty fabulists who lie behind Desbillons' work, from Aesop down to French fabulists who died only a few years before the book's publication. For me, this is certainly another one of the treasures of this collection!