The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian
The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian is a cycle of connected poems by the Scottish makar Robert Henryson. In the accepted text it consists of thirteen versions of fables, seven modelled on stories from ""Aesop"" expanded from the Latin elegiac Romulus manuscripts, one of the standard fable texts in medieval Europe. The remaining six follow the more general beast epic tradition. Five of this second group feature Henryson's version of the Reynardian trickster figure, the fox, who he calls Lowrence. The core of the poems in the beast epic group explore a relationship between Lowrence and the figure of the wolf, who similarly appears in five of the six. The wolf then ""overlaps"" the beast epic poems of the cycle to make a sixth and most brutal appearance in the final verse Romulus section. The subtle and ambiguous way in which Henryson adapted and juxtaposed material from a diversity of sources in the tradition and exploited anthropomorphic conventions to blend human characteristics with animal observation both worked within, and pushed the bounds of, standard practice in the common medieval art of fable re-telling. Henryson fully exploited the fluid aspects of the tradition to produce an unusually sophisticated moral narrative, unique of its kind, making high art of an otherwise conventional genre.Internal evidence suggests that the work was composed in or around the 1480s.