Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables or Aesopica refers to a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BC. His fables are some of the most well known in the world. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today.

 The earliest sources of Aesop's life date from long after his death, and most biographical material about him is almost certainly mythical. Along with the scattered references in the ancient sources regarding the life and death of Aesop, there is a highly fictional biography now commonly called The Aesop Romance (also known as the Vita or The Life of Aesop or The Book of Xanthus the Philosopher and Aesop His Slave), "an anonymous work of Greek popular literature composed around the second century of our era.

Hellenistic statue reputed to depict Aesop, Art Collection of Villa Albani, Rome.  

In The Aesop Romance, Aesop is a slave of Phrygian origin on the island of Samos, and extremely ugly. At first he lacks the power of speech, but after showing kindness to a priestess of Isis, is granted by the goddess not only speech but a gift for clever storytelling, which he uses alternately to assist and confound his master, Xanthus, embarrassing the philosopher in front of his students and even sleeping with his wife.

Portrait of Aesop by Velásquez in the Prado.

Aesop's most famous fables include:

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