Aesop (also spelled Æsop; from the Greek Αισωπος, Aisopos), known only for his fables, was by tradition a slave who lived from about 620 to 560 BC in Ancient Greece. Aesop's Fables are still taught as moral lessons and used as subjects for various entertainments, especially children's plays and cartoons. According to tradition he was at one point freed from slavery and eventually died at the hands of Delphians, but nothing is known about Aesop from credible records. In fact, the obscurity shrouding his life has led some scholars to doubt his existence altogether.



An antique Roman marble figure of Aesop  showing him in his traditional guise of an ugly and misshapen man (Villa Albani collection)

An antique Roman marble figure of Aesop showing him in his traditional guise of an ugly and misshapen man


            The place of Aesop's birth is uncertain – Thrace, Phrygia, Ethiopia, Samos, Athens, and Sardis all claim the honour. According to the sparse information gathered about him from references to him in several Greek works (he was mentioned by Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon and Aristotle), Aesop was a slave of a Greek named Iadmon, who resided on the island of Samos. Aesop must have been freed, for he conducted the public defence of a certain Samian demagogue (Aristotle, Rhetoric, ii. 20). He subsequently lived at the court of Croesus, where he met Solon, and dined in the company of the Seven Sages of Greece with Periander at Corinth. During the reign of Peisistratus he was said to have visited Athens, where he told the fable of The Frogs Who Desired a King to dissuade the citizens from attempting to depose Peisistratus for another ruler. A contrary story, however, said that Aesop spoke up for the common people against tyranny through his fables, which incensed Peisistratus, who was against free speech.

            Popular stories surrounding Aesop were assembled in a vita prefixed to a collection of fables under his name, compiled by Maximus Planudes, a 14th century monk. He was described as extremely ugly and deformed, which is how he was also represented in a marble figure in the Villa Albani in Rome. This biography had actually existed a century before Planudes. It appeared in a 13th century manuscript found in Florence. However, according to another Greek historian Plutarch's account of the symposium of the Seven Sages, at which Aesop was a guest, there were many jests on his former servile status, but nothing derogatory was said about his personal appearance. Aesop's deformity was further disputed by the Athenians, who erected in his honour a noble statue by the sculptor Lysippus. Some suppose the sura, or "chapter," in the Qur'an titled Luqman to be referring to Aesop, a well-known figure in Arabia during the time of Muhammad.


Aesop's Fables

            Aesop's Fables or Aesopica refers to a collection of fables credited to Aesop. Aesop's Fables has also become a blanket term for collections of brief fables, usually involving personified animals.





















Fill in the following chart using complete sentences to detail the Storyline and to isolote the moral of each story.




Bitten but not Shy









Borrowed Plumes










A Breed of Faint-Hearts










An Ass in a Lion's Skin (1)










The Victor Vanquished










Swan Song










Seeing is Believing










Where your Treasure is, there will your heart be also










A Bird in the Hand











One Good Turn Deserves Another











An Ass in a Lion's Skin (2)










How the Tortoise Got its Shell










The Law of Self-Preservation










Misplaced Confidence










A Waste of Good Counsel











Bowing Before the Storm










Getting the Worst of Both Worlds










The Irony of Fate











Hope Deferred










The Axe is Laid Unto the Root of the Trees











Go to the ant, thou Sluggard










Cut off your Tails to Save my Face!










Friend or Foe?










The Fox and the Mask










Sour Grapes












A Case for Patience










A Companion in Fear










One-Way Traffic










Taught by Experience











A Lesson for Fools





















The Mighty Fallen










Trying to Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear










The One-Eyed Deer










Reaping Without Sowing











Vengeance at Any Price












A Clumsy Liar












The Best Method of Defence












Killed By Kindness