FABLES AND LA FONTAINE e fables of Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) are a prime example of material that has been appropriated in various abridged forms to be read or studied by the young. But the association of fables with young readers already had a substantial history. Long before the rst recueil of fables by La Fontaine was published in 1668, fables were being used for the purposes of education. roughout the Middle Ages, anthologies of fables in Latin based on a corpus of work derived from Aesop were widely employed not just for teaching grammar and vocabulary but, as
they had been in classical times, in lessons on rhetoric and as models for oral and written composition. e adaptability of the material made fables highly suitable for linguistic exercises in paraphrasing, expansion, and ornamentation and for citation in many kinds of public discourse.2 ey were recommended as such in Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria (c.e. 95), rst printed in 1470, which enjoyed a considerable reputation in the Renaissance period for its concept of a training in rhetoric as essential for the development of a cultivated man of sound morals.