Friday 9 September 2011

Aesop's fables, by Manolis Haros

I had a real trip down memory lane last night following the opening of Manolis Haros' exhibition which was inspired by Aesop's fables, and straight away I was back at primary school in Kalamaki. I had not read or thought about Aesop's fables since that time but during the exhibition it all came flooding back and with it, images of my childhood.

The Fox and the Grapes.

I am six years old and I am sitting on our back terrace. Our terrace that time was huge, and we lived on it during the summer: my mother would even do all the food preparation there before going into the kitchen to use the hob or the oven. I had a swing suspended from the rafters of the pergola which was covered with vines -  a great source of shade. I am looking at the grapes hanging over my head and I am thinking about the poor fox that could not reach the juicy grapes. The fact that the fox walked away muttering to himself  "I am sure they are sour"  was hilarious, I thought.

The Moon.

The moon once begged her mother to make her a gown. "How can I?", replied she; "there's no fitting your figure. At one time you're a New Moon,  and at another you're a Full Moon; and between whiles you're neither one nor the other".

How cruel life can be, and learning it at such an early age!

The Fox and the Stork. (This painting reminded me of a series of paintings I saw by Louise Bourgeois at this same museum last year).

One bad turn deserves another - I was never sure about that but I remember being around seven this time. The fox invited a stork to have some soup, and served it in a shallow dish which made it impossible for the stork to eat - I could almost hear the stork's  bill scraping the bowl. The next day the stork got its revenge, and invited the fox to have soup served in a long-necked jar with a narrow mouth, which made it impossible for the fox to eat. I kept trying to picture that.... and was fascinated by it.

The Two Pots.

The Cast Iron Pot.

The Old Man and Death.

The Old Man and Death.

An old man, bent down with old age and toil,  was gathering sticks in a forest. At last he grew so tired and hopeless that he threw down the bundle of sticks, and cried out:
"I cannot bear this life any longer. Death come and take me".
As he spoke, Death appeared and said to him: "What do you want old man? I heard you call me".
"Please sir", replied the old man, "would you kindly help me lift this bundle of sticks on to my shoulder?"

The idea of  'be careful of what you wish for' used to intrigue me even though I could not quite grasp the complexity of the idea. More than that was the idea of death itself, which in my mind's eye was coloured by all the pictures of the grim reaper with his scythe that I had seen endless times in picture books - just like the picture above, in fact.


  1. I learnt to read with a story by Baron Munchausen...or about him...not sure which, in which he ties his horse to a pole in a snowstorm and goes to sleep on the snow. In the night there is a thaw and when he looks up in the morning he sees his horse hanging from the point of the church steeple. Like you I was never sure what as a seven year old I was meant to take from this story!!

  2. I remember that story very well.