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A comparative study of the Aesopic fable in Nicole Bozon; a dissertation submitted to the Board of University studies of the Johns Hopkins University .. online

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both authors begins in the same manner.

Bozon :

Le chat sit sur le fourure e vynt la
sorice champestre e la sorice ewestre . . .

Marie de France :

Unz chaz seeit desur un fur

Vit le mulet e la suriz.

(vv. 1-3.)

21. Cf. p. 31.


In Bozon three species of mice come before the Cat;
in Marie de Prance the Cat sees le mulet et la suriz.
The use of the three species of mice by Bozon can be
explained by the fact that throughout his fables
are found many expressions of a light, jocular tone
which were well adapted to awaken interest among- the
class of people with whom he had to deal 2 2 .
Compare further Bozon :

Ordre ! Ordre ! vous estez de una subicion,
jeo sui vostre evesque ; venez, (si) pernez
ma beniceon ;
and Marie de France :

Sis apela

E dist que lur evesques fu
B que mal cunseil unt eu
Que sa beneigun n' aveient.

(vv. 4-8.)

The Mice, on refusing to approach, say in Marie de
Prance that they would rather die than come under the
Cat's claws. In the Rom. Treverensis :

Carius est michi ut moriar paganus

quam quod sub vestra manu flam christianus.

Bozon shows his humor with :

Nenil, jeo voil meux estre ici od ta
maliceon, qe venir plus pres pur
aver ta beneiceoii.

22. For example, in the fable Wolf and L,amb (Bozon par. 49) :
The distinctive feature in this fable is that the Wolf and the
L,amb come to the river to wash their feet. It would be in vain, I
think, to search for a version in which this motif is found. I see,
in the use of this phrase, the expression of a light vein of humor
which is common with our author and which crops out in other
places in the fables. Several such examples may be noted :

1. Par. 26, Cock and Jewel: the Cock finds a gold ring, and
not, as in all the other versions of this fable, a precious stone.

2. Par. 30, Fox and Plowman : the Fox keeps one eye open.

3. Par. 116, Fox and Pigeon : the Fox says its sack is torn
and all its tricks have escaped.

4. Par. 142, Ass* Heart : the Fox judges the urine of the
Lion, and the Ass begs leave to go home to make its will.

Still other such examples may be found. All these just men-
tioned bring in new motifs, as in this fable of the Wolf and L/amb
washing- their feet in the river. I doubt whether this motif can
be explained in any other manner.


Except in the case of a literal translation it would
be hard to find two versions more similar than those of
Marie de Prance and Bozon. Bozon, assuredly, knew
the fables of Marie de France and it is from this collec-
tion that he drew his fable.


Versions: Rom. Vulgaris I, 4; Rom. Nilantii I, 4;
Marie de Prance 4 ; Rom. Treverensis 4 ; Odo of Sher-
ington 23 ; Bozon 55.

We have here the familiar fable of Ovis, Cants et
Lupus of Phaedrus 23 . This fable has been widlely
known ; it is found in the Rom. Nilantii, the Rom.
Treverensis, the Rom. Vulgaris, Marie de Prance and
Odo of Shering-ton.

In Bozon the actors are loup, gopil, corf, mastyn
and bcrbys; in Marie de France, chiens, escuflcs, lous and
berbiz; in the Rom. Treverensis, cants, lufius, milvus
and ovis. In short, there is no known version of this
fable in which the actors correspond with those in
Bozon, nor is it hardly possible that he knew of any
such version in which these characters figure.

It will be noticed that the exemplum immediately
preceding- the fable under discussion in Bozon 24 says
something- in reg-ard to the nature of the Crow and of
the Fox. This fact may have influended our author in
the employment of witnesses for the Wolf 25 . Mastyn

23. Cf. Havet, fable 18, page 19 ; Hervieux, Vol. 11, fable 17,

p. 13.

24. Cf. C. M. de Bozon, par. 55, p. 77.

25. A similar dependence, apparently, of fable upon exemp-
lum in reg-ard to the actors in the fable will be found in Bozon,
par. 116 (fable of Fox and Pig-eon).

Bozon in this fable agrees, in g-eneral, with the common form
of all the Western versions. He has, however, one very striking-
peculiarity ; that is, the Dove plays the role attributed to the Cat
in all other known versions, the L,atin as well as the French.
Herlet wishes to explain this remarkable variation by assuming-
that Bozon has confounded two fables found in Marie de France ;
namely, (i) fable 98, De Catto et Vulpe, and (2) fable 61, De Vulpe
et Columba. Herlet believes that Bozon has, through a failing- of
memory, broug-ht the Dove into his fable. This supposition is
possible, of course, and it would not be an unique case, since in
the fable of Sheep and Wolf before Lion there appears to be a con-
fusion in Bozon's mind between the two traditions of this fable.


recalls the Dog" in Marie de France which acts there,
and in other versions also, as accuser of the Sheep.

This fable, as presented by Bozon, offers other
striking- peculiarities. In the first place, in all the ver-
sions mentioned above, except in Bozon and Odo of
Sherington, the Dog accuses the Wolf. Secondly, all
versions, with the exception of Odo of Shering-ton and
Bozon, agree in that the Dog swears to have loaned the
Sheep some bread ; Bozon and Odo alone agree in that
the Wolf is accused of devouring- the companions of

But it seems strange that Bozon, who appears to know the fables
so well, should be guilty of such an error.

I believe that the substitution of the Dove for the Cat was for
a definite purpose. If one will examine par. 116, on which the
fable depends, one will find that a certain kind of dove is men-
tioned which lives on the fruit of a tree fonnd in India. The
fable begins thus .

En la terre de Inde est trovee un arbre,

com dit le livre, de merveillouse grandeur.

. . . Enqi habitent une manere de

colombes qe sunt sustenus de cest fruit.
And farther on .

L/a arbre de vie est la croiz joignant

a la rivere de ces costez qe fruit nous

rend de sustenance e de savacion.

En la umbre de cest arbre meynent

les columbes, . . . mes soulement

le columbe meynt en eel arbre.

Bozon has chosen the fable of Cat and Fox to illustrate this
exemplum. With the usual freedom with which our author treats
his subjects, and especially his fables, it is not surprising that he
has substituted for the Cat the Dove, to a certain species of which
the exemplum has reference, for the Dove, of course, can take
refuge in a tree as well as the Cat. It must be remembered that
the fables of Bozon are dependent on the exemplum, and not vice
versa. The order adopted by Bozon is different from that of col-
lections in which fables are the principal feature of discourse ; it
is the philosophic thesis that occupies the first rank with Bozon,
and the fable, instead of preceding, follows it. With Odo of
Sherington, for example, the exempla are more independent, and
the allegorical explanations (that is, the fable, or story) appended
to them possess distinctive features. They form a collection of
interesting stories. With Bozon, however, the fable or story
which follows the exemplum serves as a symbolical interpretation.
It is interesting to note how many similar cases there are in
Bozon in which it appears that the subject of the exemplum in
question has an influence on the choice of actors in the fable that
follows. I have found the following instances :

(1) In par. 21 the exemplum treats of the nature of the
Rabbit ; the fable of the Wolf and Rabbit immediately follows.

(2) In par. 55 it is stated that the Crow has a great friend-
ship for the Fox ; the fable of the Sheep and Wolf before the Lion
follows. The witnesses of the Wolf are the Crow, Fox and Mastyn.


the Sheep and its Lamb. It would appear from this
that Bozon knew the fable as found in Odo of

Compare Bozon :

Le lion tient sa court e vynt le berbys,

si se pleint del lou qe il out toilet son aignel;

and Odo of Sheringion :

Oves conquestae sunt Leoni de Lupo,
eo quod furtive et aperte socias suas
devoravit. Leo congregavit concilium.

Thus far only does Bozon agree with Odo of Sher-
ing-ton. In the latter, the lion orders the Wolf to be
hung-, tog-ether with his witnesses. In Bozon, although
not stated distinctly, the Sheep suffers the same fate as

(3) In par. 61 we find :

Columbe est de tiel nature que, etc.;
The fable of Fox and Dove follows.
Compare also (same chapter):

Sicom dit Jere, le prophete par ensample

del columbe : "Seitetz," dit il," semblablez

al columbe, e pernez vostre recet en la

piere percte . . .
In line 1 and 4 of the fable we find :

L/e gopil passa desouz un roche,

si garda amont e vist un columbe

seer en haut . . . (line 4) qe de

seer amont entre les freides pieres.

All the other versions of this fable have the Dove sitting- in a
tree, or on a perch, not, as in Bozon, among 1 the rocks.

(4) Par. 120 concerns the nature of the pig and ass ; the
fable of Ass and Pig follows.

(5) Par. 131 speaks of the nature of the ass and colt. In the
fable which follows (Lion and Companions) the companions of
the Lion are the Goat and Colt.

(6) Par. 132 discusses the nature of the ass and sheep ; the
fable of Man, Son and Ass follows.

(7) Par. 142 :

Grant diversetee de nature est entre

le asne e le motoun, . . . ;

the fable of Ass' Heart (which has as its actors the Lion, the Fox
and the Ass) follows. In all other versions of this fable, except
in the oldest, the Stag and not the Ass, as in Bozon, is the victim
of the L/ion.

It seems to me that a close examination of the examples just
given will throw some new light upon the character of the work
of Bozon, and will, in a great measure, explain the peculiarities
which are prominent in some of his fables. However, it is not
wise to depend too much on this explanation, for fables are met
with thronghout the text which are not affected at all by the pre-
ceding exemplum in regard to the choice of actors in the fable.


in the Rom. Vulgaris tradition and in Marie de France ;
that is, it has to part with its wool. This fact shows
that the fable has become disintegrated, and leads one
to suspect that the Rom. Vulgaris and the Anglo-Latin
Romulus tradition have been compressed here 26 . An-
other conclusive proof of this confusion is that in Bozon
the sheep is condemned, as in the Rom. Vulgaris and
the Anglo-Latin Romulus tradition, although, in Bozon,
it is accused of nothing. It would seem strange that
the Sheep, which came before the Lion to make com-
plaint against the Wolf for the loss of her lamb, should
be condemned. In Odo of Sherington, on the other
hand, the Wolf and witnesses are condemned, not the

To explain this incongruity in the fable of Bozon ;
namely, that the plaintiff (sheep) is condemned, it is
necessary to suppose that he was acquainted with aver-
sion which belonged to the Rom. Vulgaris, or to the
Anglo-Latin Romulus tradition, as well as with the
version in Odo of Sherington, and that he confounded
the two versions. Doubtless his sermons had been
preached more than once before they were written down,
so that they were many opportunities for such a confu-
sion as occurs in the fable in question to arise. It is in
this way only, according to my view, that the peculiar
features in the fable under discussion can be explained.

But Bozon is dependent, for the most part, upon
Marie de Prance rather than upon the Rom. Vulgaris
tradition for this fable.

Compare Bozon :

Quant le lou ad pris ceo qe lui plest,

lors vynt le gopil tot prest, e le corf ne

veut mye tart, ne le mastyn de prendre sa part,

and Marie de France :

Li chiens i vient, sa part en porte,

E li escufles d' altre part,

E puis li lous, trop li est tart.

(vv. 28-30.)

26. Another example of this crossing of traditions occurs in
the fable of Owl and Hawk ; see p. 18.


A glance at the above is sufficient to recognize that
Bozon is here imitating- Marie de France. The Rom.
Vulgaris simply offers :

Coacta vero ante tempus lanas suas

vendidisse dicitur, ut quod non

accepit redderet.


Versions: Marie de France 61 ; Rom. Treverensis
51; Jacques de Vitry 20; Rom. Bernensis, Primus 32 ;
Bozon 61.

Bozon in this fable closely resembles Marie de
France in De Vulfie et Columbe. In all versions not
connected with the Anglo-Latin Romulus tradition, a
substitution of some other animal for the dove is made.
In the Rom. Bernensis (Primus) we find avictda; in the
Roman de Renart, a titmouse, and also a bird called
masange 27 ; in ITsengrimus, a Hen; in Caxton, a Cock;
in Jacques de Vitry, a masange. The fact that Bozon
has the Dove will place him as dependent on the Anglo-
L/atin Romulus tradition. The fable is not in Odo of

In Bozon, as in Marie de France and the Rom. Tre-
verensis, the Fox seeing a Dove on a perch (rock, in
Bozon) begs it to come down. The use of the word
rock or stones in Bozon (les freides pieres, 1. 4), instead
of perch, or tree, as in Marie de France and the Rom.
Treverensis, can, I think, be explained from the exem-
plum which immediately precedes the fable. We find

Columbe est de tiel nature qe james ne est
seiire en ville ne en champe. . . .
Sicom dit Jere. le prophete par ensample del
columbe, "Seitetz," dit il," semblablez al
columbe, e pernez vostre recet en la piere

By having the Dove perched among the rocks, a
place of safety, the fable would, in this manner, be

27. Branch II, vv. 469-602.


brought in closer touch with the exemplum. This de-
pendence of fable on exemplum is one of the chief char-
acteristics of literature of the Bozon type.

In Bozon and in Marie de France the Pox tells the
Dove of the universal peace that has been declared by
the King- of Beasts.

Les lettres sont venuz de la court le roy
qe touz serroms de un acord, e nul ne fra
grevance a autre desornemes;
and Marie de France:

Uns bries i vint de part le rei
Ki comanda par dreite fei
Que beste a altre ne mesf ace
N'a nul oisel ....

(vv. 13-16.)

We have, next, in Bozon a horseman who approaches
with four greyhounds; in Marie de France there are two
horsemen and two dogs; in the Rom. Treverensis, two
men on horses with dogs.

The Fox's reason for fleeing from the dogs is the
same in Bozon as in Marie de France.

Jeo ne sui pas certeyn qe les chienz
ont veil les lettres.
Marie de France:

Ne sai s'il unt le brief oi,
Ki vint del rei, jo vus afi.

(vv. 29-30.)

This fable throughout, in regard to its general
motifs, agrees with the corresponding fable in Marie de
France. Versions not dependent on Marie, except Cax-
ton, bring in a new motif. The Fox, in order to capture
the bird, begs it to close its eyes while he kisses it.
This same motif is found in a fable entitled Vulpes et
Avicula 28 and also in De Gallo et Vtilpe of the Rom.
Treverensis 29 . There seems to be a confusion be-

28. Cf. Hervieux, Vol. II, Rom. Bernensis, (Primus) p. 311.

29. Cf. Hervieux, Vol. II, Rom. Treverensis, p. 598.


tween this fable as found in Bozon and that of the uni-
versal peace fable as found in Marie de Prance and her
dependents. The version in Jacques de Vitry, also, is
influenced by the episode in the Roman de Renart, as is
shown by the use of the word masange. This confusion
is not apparent in the fable of Bozon, for he has fol-
lowed the Anglo-Latin Romulus tradition, where the
kissing- motif mentioned above does not occur.

Whether Marie de France was here the direct source
of Bozon can not be determined with any degree of cer-
tainty, although his fable is nearer that of Marie de
Prance than any other version. It is at least certain
that the fable belongs to the Anglo-Latin Romulus


Versions: Marie de Prance 73; Rom. Treverensis
116; Odo of Sherington 63 and 25 (Pseudo-Odo of Sher-
ington, Collectio Prima); Rom. Bernensis, Primus 42;
Bozon 75.

The oldest form of this fable ,known to us is found
in the Pantschatantra 30 . But the fable was already
known in England at least as early as the end of the
twelfth century, since we find it in Marie de Prance and
in her dependents. At this time the story collections
of the East had not penetrated into Western Europe,
hence this fable must have come to England through
folk tradition. Many changes, therefore, in the fable
could easily have taken place, and it is not surprising
to find that it exists in the ^Esopic fable collections
under two different forms.

In one form of the fable the mother of the Rat
appears, while in the other form the mother is omitted
and the fable makes mention only of the Rat, which,
although feminine in the older versions, becomes mascu-
line in Marie de France and in her dependents, and
seeks a wife for itself. The first of these two forms
exists in a Latin fable of the thirteenth century, which

30. Cf. Benfey, Bk. Ill, 12, p. 262.


is found, among- others, in the Pseudo-Odo of Shering-
ton (Collectio Prima) 81 . The second form of our
fable also occurs in Odo 63. Here, as in Bozon, it is
the mus that wishes to marry. Although the fable in
Bozon belongs to this last type it differs in one point,
especially from both of the versions found in Odo of
Sherington. In Odo 63 the mus (feminine gender)
desires as a husband the most powerful creature in the
world, while the second form of this fable in Odo
(Pseudo-Odo of Shering-ton, Collectio Prima) introduces
a Mouse (masculine) that wishes to marry its daughter
to some powerful creature. This motif is entirely dif-
ferent from that in the fable in Bozon, where it is nar-
rated that the Rat (masculine) wished to marry the
daughter of the Sun. Now, it is the versions in Marie
de France and the Rom. Treverensis only that agree
with Bozon in this respect. The fable in the Rom.
Bernensis (Primus), although it appears to be derived
from the Anglo -Latin Romulus tradition, has the
mulotus, which wishes to marry the Sun, not the daugh-
ter of the Sun.

The fact that no known version of this fable, except
that of Marie de France, the Rom. Treverensis and
Bozon, states that the mouse desires to marry the
daughter of the Sun, is sufficient to show that Bozon
has drawn this fable from the Anglo-Latin Romulus
tradition. He could not have taken it from the Rom.
Treverensis, for here we find mulus 32 ; hence he must
have been inspired by the version in Marie de France.

The fable, as it appears in Bozon, proves to be
somewhat original as regards the series of the objects
approached by the Rat. Odo of Sherington 63 (whose
source, perhaps, is Marie de France) reduced the series
of this author, while Bozon has enlarged it. In Bozon
are mentioned sun, cloud, wind, rain, barn and mouse.
The series in Bozon is as logical as that in Marie de

31. The date of this collection is probably the middle of the
fourteenth century. See Hervieux, Vol. IV, p. 154, and Herlet,
p. 44.

32. Cf. Mall, op. cit., p. 185 and G. Paris, Rom. XV (1886),
p. 629.


France, and when one considers the liberty that Bozon
frequently takes in regard to his fables, it is not sur-
prising that we find the series with him increased. As
M. Meyer 33 explains this series the rain lowers the
wind and the barn prevents the rain from penetrating.
Bozon probably considered the barn as a more fitting
place than a wall or tower for rats to inhabit.

It does not appear that Bozon knew either of the
two versions found in Odo of Sherington; for while with
one version (Ixiii) the objects approached by the Mouse
are reduced to wind, castle and mouse, with the other
version (Pseudo-Odo of Sherington, Collectio Prima,
xxv) three new motifs enter: the Mouse first approaches
the Moon, the Castle replies that the Domina is more
powerful, a Cat kills the Mouse. Whether Odo of Sher-
ington got his fable from Alfred of England or from
Marie de Prance is not to be discussed here, but it is
evident from what has preceded that Bozon did not
draw his fable from Odo of Sherington.

This fable does not occur in the Rom. Vulgaris nor
in its dependents. It is found in Hervieux II but twice;
namely, in the Rom. Treverensis collection and in the
Rom. Bernensis (Primus). It has been pointed out
above 34 that Bozon differs in two or more important
motifs from the Rom. Treverensis and the Rom. Bernen-
sis (Primus), but that with Marie de France the agree-
ment is complete, with the exception of the increase of
the series of the visits, which, I think, has been suffi-
ciently accounted for.


Versions: Rom. Vulgaris I, 7; Rom. Nilantii I, 8;
Marie de France 6; Rom. Treverensis 8; Jacques de
Vitry 142; Bozon 91.

This is a variation of the fable Ranae ad Solem of
Phaedrus 35 ; it has been widely circulated and conse-

33. Cf . C. M. de Bozon, p. 259, note 75.

34. Cf. page 41.

35. Cf. Havet, fable 7, p. 8; Hervieux, Vol. II, fable VI, p. 8.


quently has undergone much change. The form which
we have here seems to be more closely connected with
fable 6 of Marie de France than with any other known
version. Bozon, however, offers some peculiarities on
account of which the connection between the two fables
is not so clear. Below, each principal motif is taken up
and discussed in regard to its relation to other versions
to which Bozon might have been indebted for this fable.

a. In Bozon the Sun summoned the creatures (?) 3
to its court and asked for a rich wife. In Marie de
France the Sun desired the aid of the creatures in the
selection of a wife. The Rom. Treverensis: the Sun
wished to marry; the report went through the world
and frightened the creatures. Rom. Vilantii (and also
throughout the Rom. Vulgaris tradition): robbers
attend a wedding feast; an old man tells a story of the
Sun wishing to marry.

From the indications given above it is seen that
Bozon and Marie de France stand out alone in one
respect against the Rom. Nilantii and the whole Rom.
Vulgaris tradition; that is, in the motif of the Sun ask-
ing the advice of the creatures in the selection of a wife.
It should be noted that the Rom. Treverensis has many
points here in common with the Rom. Vulgaris.

In Marie de France and in Bozon only, the Sun
appeals to the creatures. Compare Bozon :

Le soleil fist jadis somondre a sa court
(les creatures ?) ; si les pria qe ils purveissent
de un riche dame a sa femme ;
and Marie de France :

Que le soleiz volt femme prendre,
A tute creature dist
Que chescune se purveist.

(vv. 2-4.)

b. Compare Bozon :

Les autres alerent a Destinee a lui

prierent de conseil ;
and Marie de France :

Les creatures s' asemblerent ;

A la destinee en alerent,

Si li mustrerent del soleil

Que de femme requiert cunseil.
(vv. 5-8.)

36. The text reads : Le soleil fist jadis somondre a sa court .
. . . ., (here the copyist has omitted some words).


In the Rom. Nilantii the people raise a clamor and
Jupiter demands the cause of it. In the Rom. Trever-
ensis the people ask Jupiter how to avert such a
calamity as would arise from the marriage of the Sun.
Bozon and Marie de Prance agree, therefore, in that the
creatures go to Destiny for counsel, while the Rom.
Treverensis and the Rom. Nilantii substitute Jupiter.

c. The primary reason in Bozon and in Marie de
France why the creatures go to Destiny, is in order to
get counsel in regard to the marriage of the Sun. This
motif does not occur in the other fable collections men-
tioned above 37 . Here, again, it is seen that Bozon
does not follow the Rom. Vulgaris tradition or the Rom.

d. In all the versions of this fable, that I have
examined 38 , with the exception of the version in Bozon,
the people (creatures in Marie de France) fear to have
the Sun marry. In Bozon, Destiny tells the crea-
tures (?) 39 of their folly in wishing the Sun to marry.
Whether this last trait is original with Bozon, or
whether he has borrowed it from some version with
which I am not acquainted, cannot be decided. It may
be that this fable was not very clear in the mind of our

The reason given in Marie de France for the Sun
not marrying, differs in part from Bozon. In Marie,
the creatures fear that the earth would become so hot
and dry that nothing would grow ; in Bozon, Destiny
says if the Sun be reinforced, all the creatures would
burn up. But compare this with Marie de France :
Nule riens nel purra suffrir,
Desuz lui vivre ne guarir.

(vv. 19-20.)

This fable, though the point has in this instance
been less conclusively shown than in the case of the
preceding fables, is to be classed as corning from Marie
de France.

37. Cf . page 42.

38. Cf. list of fable collections consulted, see Bibliography.

39. As a word, or words, are lacking in the text, I have sup-

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Online LibraryPhilip Warner HarryA comparative study of the Aesopic fable in Nicole Bozon; a dissertation submitted to the Board of University studies of the Johns Hopkins University .. → online text (page 3 of 6)