Abstract

abstract:

Mishlei Shu’alim is a twelfth-century collection of about one hundred Aesopic fables, written in rhymed Hebrew by Berechiah ha-Naqdan. After a survey of the fabulist’s work, life and possible sources of inspiration, the article presents the theory that Fable 36, Wolf and Beasts, is composed of two different parts. The fable’s first part deals with a voracious wolf being accused by the other animals at the lion’s court of justice and is sentenced to avoid hunting for two years. In the second part when he sees a sheep he blinks 730 times, each blink representing in his mind a 24-hour period, thus determining that 2 years had passed. The first part is probably based on a fable that has no antecedent written version, but which is possibly echoed in a contemporary text by Odo of Cheriton. The second part, concerned with the wolf ’s fraud and witticism, is compared with Marie de France’s Fable 50 and other Latin sources where the wolf takes a vow to abstain from eating meat during Lent. Upon seeing a sheep, he pretends it is a salmon so he may devour it without regret. While in Marie de France’s version the wolf is entirely cultivated and the sheep is merely an idea, in Berechiah and the other versions, the animals’ images alternate between civilization and nature.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1528-4212
Print ISSN
0010-4132
Pages
pp. 374-401
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-15
Open Access
No
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