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Last week you read some Aesop's fables, including some fables taken from the English preacher Odo of Cheriton (who lived from around 1180 to 1246). This week you will be reading some more stories from Odo which are about a very special set of animals: the creatures of the "beast epic" tradition. Unlike Aesop's animals, the animals in the "beast epic" tradition have their own names. Although you will not be meeting all of the characters in this week's reading, here is a list of the main beast epic characters:
There is an important version of the beast epic cycle written in Latin verse, in addition to the many references to these popular stories in the preachers' handbooks and in the collections of Aesopic fables. The beast epic tradition probably began in Germany since so many of the animals' names are of German origin. There are medieval versions of the beast epic in German, along with later versions by the Goethe and the Brothers Grimm. The beast epic was also extremely popular in France, where the fox is now known by the name "renard". Caxton, who printed the first book of Aesop's fables in English, also printed an English version of the adventures of Reynard the Fox in 1481.