Isopet (aka Fables) of Marie de France

The Isopet or Fables, is a collection of fables based on the genre most famously employed by the Greek writer Aesop of Thrace. In the course of the 12th century, Marie de France collected between 102 and 104 fables from all different sources, some of which can be traced to previous fable collections and others which cannot.

It is clear that Marie’s collection of fables was not widespread in Italy. The sole manuscript witness, listed below, appers to have links to Italy, but those connections have been questioned by some scholars while others have maintained the manuscript’s Italian, and specifically Venetian, provenance.

The Fables contained in the Paris 2173 manuscript are part of a compilation that includes several didactic works, among them the Image du Monde, six independent fabliaux, and a so-called Dit de la Femme, all in French.

Representative Manuscripts

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, fr. 2173


For complete editions, although not of this manuscript, see Arlima.

Secondary Literature

Françoise Vielliard, “Sur la tradition manuscrite des fables de Marie de France,” Bibliothèque de l’École des chartes, 147 (1989), 371-397.

Logan E. Whalen, “Fabliaux and Marie de France’s Isopet,” in Li premerains vers:
Essays in Honor of Keith Busby,
ed. Catherine M.Jones and Logan E. Whalen
Amsterdam/New York, Rodopi, 2011, p. 524.

Keith Busby, Codex and Context: Reading Old French Verse Narrative in Manuscript,Amsterdam/New York, Rodopi, 2002, 499-500.