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Definition: Aesop from

The Columbia Encyclopedia

Aesop (ē´sәp, ē´sŏp), legendary Greek fabulist. According to Herodotus, he was a slave who lived in Samos in the 6th cent. b.c. and eventually was freed by his master. Other accounts associate him with many wild adventures and connect him with such rulers as Solon and Croesus. The fables called Aesop's fables were preserved principally through Babrius, Phaedrus, Planudes Maximus, and La Fontaine's verse translations. The most famous of these fables include "The Fox and the Grapes" and "The Tortoise and the Hare." See fable.

Summary Article: Aesop (sixth century  BC) from The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English
Notional author of the most important body of fables in Western literature. It is not certain that Aesop actually existed as a historical figure; the first extant written collection of fables attributed to him is by the Latin poet Phaedrus in the first century AD. However there are a number of references to him in earlier classical literature - particularly Herodotus, Plutarch and Plato - which appear to establish key features of his identity: that he was a slave originally living in Asia Minor who achieved fame as a result of his extraordinary talent for telling apt and memorable stories. Herodotus suggests that he moved to Greece and eventually met his death at the hands of the people of Delphi. To this bare outline was later added a whole series of almost certainly apocryphal incidents detailing his life and career, including the ascription of physical deformity. The qualities ascribed to him in these stories include a unique capacity for survival and g...    Continue Reading

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