Fábulas de Esopo e máximas clássicas, ‘pomos de oro’ da ‘sabiduria más alta’ nos emblemas de El Sabio Instruido de la Naturaleza, de F. Garau, SJ

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The Society of Jesus was created in the context of Renaissance Humanism and the purpose of framing ancient Greek and Latin culture in its pedagogical and apostolic mission is proved by the Ratio studiorum. Going beyond the typical exercises of classical rhetoric, the first Jesuit educators, heirs to the rich European tradition of exemplary and sentence books, took advantage of the cultural possibilities provided by the newly discovered press. This is how Aesop’s popular fabulistic discourse – eminently pictorial and reframed at the end of the 15th century by the illustrated printing of Heinrich Steinhöwel – and the fashion of emblem books, launched by Andrea Alciato (1531), are used as strategies in teaching and evangelization. Among the most prolific and most successful and influential emblematic authors at the end of the Siglo de Oro, Francisco Garau, S.J., stands out, namely through the sequence of works initiated by El Sabio Instruido de la Naturaleza, en quarenta Maximas Politicas, y Morales. Ilustradas con todo genero de erudicion Sacra, y Humana (1675). Motivated by the desire to be useful, both to his students and to the Respublica Christiana, and certain of the difficulty in transmitting moral teachings without being boring, Fr. Garau concluded that with a “ficcion hermosa” like Aesop’s fables, accompanied by the best Greek, Latin, biblical and day-to-day maxims – and, in some editions, by suggestive engravings – , he would be able, with great efficiency, to instruct, delight and above all to persuade to the practice of good. Although not original, this methodology resulted in a collection of knowledge and quotations used by scholars, and certainly by preachers, for centuries. Among the 40 aesopic fables of El Sabio Instruido, “the thief and his mother” stands out for its theme and characters: being one of the few which do not have animal protagonists, by focusing on the moral education of children, it presents itself more “real” and even more “meta-educational” than the others.
Original languagePortuguese
Title of host publicationEducação em tempos incertos
EditorsJosé Manuel Martins Lopes, Ana Paula Pinto, Maria José Ferreira Lopes, Artur Ilharco Galvão, Paulo C. Dias
Place of PublicationBraga
PublisherAletheia – Associação Científica e Cultural
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789726973300, 9726973309
ISBN (Print)9726973295, 9789726973295
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Publication series



  • Aesop
  • Classical heritage
  • Emblematic literature
  • Francisco Garau
  • Ignatian pedagogy

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