French Fairytales in Latin
In 1697 the French author Charles Perrault published his book of fairytales, Histoires ou contes du temps passé, or, Stories or Tales from Past Times. Many of the stories he told in this book are still well-known today not just in France, but all over the world. The stories are told by parents to their children, read for amusement, re-written for the cinema or adapted for the stage.
Among Perrault’s stories are Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood. (Yes, Disney has drawn a lot of inspiration from Perrault.)
The only thing wrong with Charles Perrault’s stories is that they were written in French. So, to right this wrong, we can now present a new version of Perrault’s Histoires: Fabulae Gallicae – in Latin of course!
Dive into the magical world of fairytales in Latin. Illustrations, ample notes and a trilingual glossary will make the reading more fun.
Classic fairytales in a classical language
- Read and enjoy Latin: Dive into Charles Perrault’s world of fairytales.
- Improve your Latin: 90 pages in a classical Latin style for extensive reading.
- Glossary in three languages: French, English, Spanish.
A magical world of fairytales
Learning Latin and knowing Latin is hard work. Finding good literature written in good classical Latin to read at an appropriate level is at times difficult.
With Fabulae Gallicae the list of good literature in Latin has grown a little longer. Not only are we treated to one of storytelling history’s most famous works, but it has also been diligently translated into Latin.
The translator, Laurent d’Aumale, has with the support of Latinitium’s Daniel Pettersson, translated Charles Perrault’s 17th century book of fairytales into a classicizing Latin. The translation can be read both as a learning tool and as engaging literature for the fluent Latinist.
- Cinerella – Cinderella
- Magae – Diamonds and Toads
- Barba Caerulea – Bluebeard
- Cucullus Ruber – Little Red Riding Hood
- Pollicellus – Little Thumbling
- Cattus Catus – Puss in Boots
- Asini Pellis – Donkeyskin
- Bella Puella in Silva Sopita – Sleeping Beauty
Every country has its favourite Perrault tales. Some are even better known to English speakers than to French speakers, such as Diamonds and Toads. Others, like Bluebeard and Donkeyskin, are much-loved by French children, yet may have been judged too violent and cruel to receive wide acceptance abroad.
When reading Fabulae Gallicae, you will find yourselves in a magical world that may strike you as both familiar and strange. When reading for instance Bella Puella in Silva Sopita (i.e. Sleeping Beauty) you might recognize the first half, since it’s similar to the Disney adaptation, while the other half might surprise and – perhaps – horrify you. Conversely, in Cucullus Ruber (Little Red Riding Hood), you might be shocked to discover how Perrault’s tale ends or, rather, how it does not end.
Perrault’s tales are charming and amusing, intriguing and sometimes provocative. With Perrault, social satire and derision are never far away, and he uses multiple interpretative layers which make for both pleasant reading and animated discussions.
If you want to get an idea of the level and style of the Latin, or if you’re just curious about fairytales in Latin, click below to dive right in to Fabulae Gallicae.
- Carefully and diligently crafted Latin.
- Macrons on long vowels.
- English, French, Spanish glossary.
- Notes all in Latin.
- Eight famous, exciting, and moving fairytales.
- Over 90 pages for extensive reading in Latin.
Illustrated fairytales for learning and enjoying Latin
Fabulae Gallicae is a treat for everyone knowing Latin, learning Latin or wishing to learn Latin:
It is a great enjoyment for those wishing to indulge in good storytelling in good classical Latin.
It is a great companion for those who wish to improve their Latin. It is not written in easy Latin, or even intermediate Latin, your level of Latin must be fairly high to be able to understand. However, because many of the stories are well-known from cinema and culture, understanding gets a little help on the way.
The wonderful illustrations by Olga Bérard highlight the story and facilitates comprehension—and make reading more enjoyable as they are beautiful to look at!
Fabulae Gallicae also contains a vocabulary. But – and it is a big but – it is not only a Latin-English vocabulary as you might expect. It contains three languages: French, English and Spanish.
Perrault’s fairytales vary in length, ranging from three (Cucullus Ruber) to about twenty pages (Asini Pellis). The reader will thus have the option of starting with the shortest tales, if they wish. Each of the tales, of course, is a self-contained whole, so that they do not have to be read in any particular order.
For those who do not yet know Latin but wish to learn, this is a great book to put on your list of “wish-to-reads”.
“Ubi ad cellæ jānuam pervēnit, paulisper stetit, cum recordārētur marītum id sibi interdīxisse, timēretque nē propter tantam audāciam quandōque in perīculum incideret. Sed studium videndī majus erat quam ut superārētur : itaque parvā clāvī prōmptā cellæ jānuam tremēns reserāvit et reclūsit.
Cum vērō fenestræ clausæ essent, prīmō nihil vīdit, sed mox animadvertit tōtum pavīmentum sanguine coāgulātō operīrī…”
— Fabulæ Gallicæ, pp. 23–24
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get the book?
The paperback version of Fabulae Gallicae is available in our store.
Is there an e‑book version of Fabulae Gallicae?
Is there an audiobook version of Fabulae Gallicae?
Not at present.
Is Fabulae Gallicae suitable for autodidacts wanting to improve their Latin?
Yes! It’s a perfect book for extensive reading: beyond the interest of the stories, the great variety in expression and syntax makes for an interesting reading for advanced students of Latin who want to read something lighter than De Bello Gallico and Pro Caelio.
The structure of the book also makes for good chunks around which to plan your studies.
How much Latin do I have to know to read Fabulae Gallicae?
That’s a tricky question. Fabulae Gallicae is not written for beginners, as it features the whole range of syntactic complexity of Latin with a rich vocabulary. However, the trilingual glossary will be of great aid to readers, as will the illustrations.
You can have a look at the preview chapter above to gauge the level.
Can I use Fabulae Gallicae as a textbook?
This is not its primary purpose, but the stories can be used to build a compelling curriculum around them.
What are the fairytales called in English?
Cinerella – Cinderella; Magae – Diamonds and Toads; Barba Caerulea – Bluebeard; Cucullus Ruber – Little Red Riding Hood; Pollicellus – Little Thumbling; Cattus Catus – Puss in Boots; Asini Pellis – Donkeyskin; Bella Puella in Silva Sopita – Sleeping Beauty