La symbolique de l'insecte dans les fables d’Ésope : quoi de plus éloigné de l'homme qu'un insecte et aussi quoi de plus semblable ?


fr Anthropozoologica 33-34 - Pages 29-40

Published on 01 March 2002

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animal et animalité dans l’Antiquité. Actes du colloque de l’Université Lumière-Lyon II, 24-25 septembre 1998

Æsop's insect symbolism: the paradox of man's relationship to insects

The concept of symbolism, an organized group of symbols, can be used to approach Æsop's presentation of insects. His fables are constructed in the image of symbolism, i.e. like two broken fragments of an object which only takes its primary meaning when its fragments have been reunited. Each narration organizes its animal symbolism around descriptive features that relate to man. This study focused on two insect types, beetles and flies. Each narrative is built on the same model: a starting point and then a break followed by the reconstruction of the world. There is a paradox: what could be farther from man and yet at the same time provide an insight into man. This paradox forms the basis for this analysis and provides a classification method that can be applied to Æsop's presentation of the relationship between insects and man. As the narrative progresses, the presence of man is put into order revealing Æsop's attempt at presenting the history of the Mediterranean world.


Fable, symbolism, insects, fly, beetle, paradox.

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