By~Bianca Bavuso

What is a Fable?

A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature that illustrates or leads to an interpretation of a moral lesson.


  • Aesopic or Aesop's fables-include the best known western fables.
  • In ancient Greek and Roman education, the fable was of the progymnasmata—training exercises in prose composition and public speaking—wherein students would be asked to learn fables, expand upon them, invent their own, and finally use them as persuasive examples in longer forensic or deliberative speeches. The need of instructors to teach, and students to learn, a wide range of fables as material for their declamations resulted in their being gathered together in collections, like those of Aesop.
  • In modern times, while the fable has been trivialized in children's books, it has also been fully adapted to modern adult literature. Felix Salten's Bambi (1923) is a Bildungsroman- a story of a protagonist's coming of age, in the form of a fable.

  • In the 21st century the Neapolitan writer Sabatino Scia is the author of more than two hundred fables, that he describes as “western protest fables”. The characters are not only animals, but also Things, Beings and Elements from nature. Scia’s aim is the same as in the traditional fable, playing the role of revealer of human society.


  • The Hare and the Tortoise
  • The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
  • The Golden Touch (King Midas)
  • The fox and the Crow

Characteristics To Look For

  • They are fiction in the sense that they did not really happen
  • They are moral tales, usually with animal characters
  • Fables are short, and they usually have no more than two or three characters

Genres Relating to Fables

  • Folklore- includes myths and tales.
  • Fairy Tale- includes mythical creatures that can talk, with magic or some enchantments.
  • Legend-involves the truth that states a lesson.
  • Tall Tale-untrue events with a lesson behind the story.