There is a Singhalese translation of the greater part of the [Játakas], which is exceedingly popular, not on account of the peculiar doctrines of Buddhism contained in it, for these are but incidentally referred to, but from its being a collection of amusing stories which they believe to be unquestionably true. …
Not a few of the fables that pass under the name of Aesop are here to be found; and the schoolboy is little aware, as he reads of the wit of the fox or the cunning of the monkey, that these animals become, in the course of ages, the teacher of the three worlds, Buddha.
Each Jákata begins with the formula “yata-giya-dawasa,” which is the exact equivalent to our own, “in days of yore.” … One tale, after the usual manner of eastern compositions, presents the opportunity for the introduction of several other stories that are only slightly dependent on the principal narrative. The Singhalese will listen the night through to recitations from this work, without any apparent weariness; and a great number of the Játakas are familiar even to the women.
Robert Spence Hardy, A manual of Buddhism, in its modern development. London: Williams & Norgate, 1860, pp. 99-101
Illustration inspired by a jar from Damascus
[In Malaita, in the Solomon Islands] all night epic chanting ae ni mae done at memorial feasts honoring ancestors, is only for special occasions. Weddings also provide occasions for all night singing and story telling. At these times two rows of men sit facing each other and each man keeps time by clicking together two small sticks. At the head of the two lines sits the storyteller who chants the epic tales that follow.
Kay Bauman, Solomon Island Folktales from Malaita, Danburty, CT: Routledge Books, 1998, p. XVI.
Illustration inspired by a representation of a nautilus eastern Mediterranean.
“Stranger,” replied Eumaeus, “as regards your question: sit still, make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too little.
Translated by Samuel Butler, The Odyssey, London & New York: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1900.
Illustration inspired by a Native American design.