Phædri Aug. Liberti Fabularum Æsopiarum Libri Quinque: Item Fabulæ Quædam ex ms. Veteri à Marquardo Gudio Descriptæ

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by Phaedrus

Phædri Aug. Liberti Fabularum Æsopiarum Libri Quinque

Title page from Phædri Aug. Liberti Fabularum Æsopiarum Libri Quinque, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Phaedrus
Editor Michael Maittaire
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Londoni: Ex officinâ Jacobi Tonson, & Johannis Watts.
Date 1713
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [16], 60, [116]
Desc. 12mo (15 cm.)
Location Shelf J-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

A Thracian slave who was freed in Rome in the household of Augustus, Gaius Julius Phaedrus (c. 15 – 50 CE) wrote five books containing about one hundred Latin fables in the 30s CE.[1] Though the books are incomplete, an additional thirty fables are attributed to Phaedrus.[2]


Phaedrus is largely responsible for the increased use of and respect for fables, which had previously been used only in adjunction to other genres. Phaedrus' satire of politicians, writers and other public figures led to serious criticisms of his work, which were followed by his own retorts.[3] Phaedrus noted in his third book’s prologue that fables were invented so slaves could speak what could not be said openly.[4] As a freedman, he did not have to worry about incurring the wrath of his master, and openly advised and criticized the injustices of Roman life. Interestingly, Phaedrus coined the expression "adding insult to injury," (iniuriae qui addideris contumeliam).[5]

This work contains the extant portions of Phaedrus' fifth book.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Phaedrus. 12mo." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The precise edition owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[6] on LibraryThing indicates this without selecting a specific edition. The Brown Bibliography[7] lists the 1713 edition published in London based on one of the copies of Phaedrus Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[8] The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased the 1713 edition.

Bookplate and previous owner's inscription, front pastedown.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary sprinkled calf with spine gilt. Inscribed "J. Worth & Coll. Ball. Oxon, 1761" and includes the bookplate of Wiston Old Rectory, both on the front pastedown. Purchased from Charles Cox Rare Books.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

See also


  1. "Phaedrus" in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. " Phaedrus, Gāius Iūlius " in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  3. Ibid.
  4. "Phaedrus" in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  5. Ibid.
  6. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 14, 2013,
  7. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  8. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 4:463 [no.4373].