SurLaLune Note: The following is the introduction to the Notes to the individual fables in the collection. The notes for the tales have been placed as End Notes to the tales in this online version and not included in this section.
THE European Æsop is derived from the Latin and German Æsop compiled by Heinrich Stainhöwel about 1480 A.D. This consists of the following six parts (see Pedigree opposite).
(1) Medieval life of Æsop, attributed to Planudes. (I. in Pedigree.)
(2) Four books of fables, connected with the name of Romulus, but really, as modern research has shown, all derived from Phædrus, though in a fuller form than the extant remains of that poet. (II.-V. in Pedigree.)
(3) Fabulae Extravagantes: a series of beast stories of the Reynard the Fox type, and probably connected with the new fables introduced by Marie de France. (VI. in Pedigree.)
(4) A few fables from the Greek prose Æsop, really prosings of Babrius. (VII. in Pedigree.)
(5) Selection from the fables of Avian. (VIII. in Pedigree.)
(6) Facetiae from Poggio and Petrus Alfonsi.
All the vernacular versions of Europe were derived in the first instance from this omnium gatherum. Thus in England Caxton introduced the Stainhöwel through the medium of the French. Later collections omitted much of the Stainhöwel, especially the Fabulae Extravagantes and the Facetiae. and added somewhat from the later editions of the Greek prose Æsop, which up to the time of Bentley were supposed to be derived from the Samian slave himself. La Fontaine introduced a few oriental Apologues among the latter half of his Fables. Some of these, e.g. "La Perrette," have been incorporated into the later Æsops.
The present collection aims at representing in selection and arrangement this history of the European Æsop.  Three quarters of its contents give in due order those of Stainhöwel, which have survived in the struggle for existence in the popular consciousness. As a kind of appendix the last quarter of fables in this book gives a miscellaneous set derived from various collections published since the Stainhöwel, and winning their way by force of merit into the popular Æsops. For the fables derived from the Stainhöwel-Caxton I have referred briefly to the bibliographical appendix in my edition of Caxton, pp. 225, 268, by the symbols used there, as follows:—
Ro. = Four books of Romulus, really Phædrus.
Ex. v. = Extravagantes.
Re. = Greek prose fables, latinised by Remicius.
Av. = Avian.
Po. = Poggio.
I give here a short summary of the information more fully contained in these bibliographical lists. I have gone more into detail for the last twenty fables or so which do not occur in Caxton.