Posted on June 4, 2014
|This ancient bust is|
supposed to depict
Aesop, teller of tales and author of fables, lived a really, really long time ago. Like, more than 2,500 years ago! It is not very probable that we know precisely what day he was born. I'm not even positive that his year of birth is certain. Still, several sources say that Aesop was born on June 4, 620 B.C.E.
Aesop lived in Ancient Greece. We sometimes give his profession as “fabulist” – one who writes fables. Fabulous word, huh?
(Sometimes people use the word fabulist to mean someone who is a liar – specifically, someone who tells long, elaborate false stories.)
Okay, enough about fabulous words – what about Aesop and his fables?
There is a traditional story about Aesop's life:
Aesop was a slave who was both exceedingly ugly but also very intelligent. At some point, he was freed, and because of his cleverness, Aesop was able to work his way up to becoming an adviser to kings and governments.
coin has an
image that is
He may or may not have been a black Ethiopian. He may or may not have written some or all of the fables we credit to him. He may or may not have even lived!
(So you see why I am skeptical of the very specific birthdate given on several websites – when some scholars aren't even sure that the man ever lived?!)
|One of the most famous of|
"Aesop's Fables" is "The
Hare and the Tortoise."
Fables are stories that usually feature animal characters and that are written to teach a lesson.
The biography of Aesop, called The Aesop Romance, states that he wrote fables and left them with librarians at Croesus. However, this anonymous so-called biography is known to be mostly fiction. Several ancient scholars, historians, and intellectuals mention Aesop's fables, so there probably was a book of his collected writings in ancient times. However, not a scrap of his actual writings still exist.
The fables we now publish under Aesop's name may have little in common with his original tales. It's not just a matter of translation from Greek and Latin to English, and it's not just a matter of modern interpretations. Scholars state that tales have been deleted and added and revised over the centuries.
Still, we can enjoy the fables we do have – whoever wrote them – through books and videos and websites.
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