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Thursday, 28 July 2011


Aesop (620-564BC) was supposed to have been a native of Phrygia and a slave who, after being set free, travelled to Greece.

The fables attributed to him are anecdotes which use animals to illustrate a point or teach a moral lesson. Such was Aesop's reputation that most of the fables in ancient times were ascribed to him.

Among well-known stories attributed to him are The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf, The Fox and the Grapes and The Hare and the Tortoise.

The phrase "lion's share" comes from one of Aesop’s Fables. The story concerns several beasts who joined the lion in a hunt. When the spoil was divided, the lion claimed one quarter for himself, the second quarter for his courage, the third for his dam and cubs, "and as for the fourth, let who will dispute it with me." Awed by the lion’s frown, the other beasts yielded and silently withdrew.

According to a 13th century biography of Aesop by Maximus Planudes, a learned monk of Constantinople, Aesop was an ugly, deformed dwarf. The famous marble statue at the Villa Albani in Rome (see below) depicts Aesop accordingly.

By user:shakko - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

Aesop's stories were popularized by the Roman poet Phaedrus in the 1st-cAD.

William Caxton printed the first English translation of Aesop's Fables on March 26, 1484.

The fable of the farmer and his sons from Caxton's edition

A later tradition (dating from the Middle Ages) depicts Aesop as a black Ethiopian. The idea that Aesop was Ethiopian is encouraged by the presence of camels, elephants, and apes in his fables.

Source Daily Mail

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