Aesop – Greek writer
Aesop was a Greek writer, who wrote hundreds of stories called fables. The word “fable” means “amazing” or “larger-than-life”—or even “imaginary”. His fables are animal stories. They are still used to teach children.
Little is known about the ancient Greek writer Aesop (c. 620 B.C.E.–c. 560 B.C.E.). He was said to have been a slave who earned his freedom through his storytelling and went on to serve as advisor to a king.
The fables of Aesop were probably part of an oral history—stories that were told aloud. An early English-language version of the stories was published in 1692.
Most of the fables are about animals with human characteristics. Most end with a moral, or a statement of the lesson that the fable teaches.
The most famous among his fables is ‘‘The Tortoise and the Hare,’’ in which the plodding turtle and the energetic rabbit hold a race. The arrogant hare is so confident that he rests and falls asleep halfway; the wiser tortoise plods past and wins. ‘‘Slow but steady wins the race,’’ the fable concludes.
One of Aesop’s fables is about a greedy dog: A dog had a piece of meat in his mouth and was carrying it home. On the way the dog looked into a pond and saw his own reflection. It looked like another dog with a second piece of meat. “Why should he eat such good meat?” thought the dog. “I want that piece too.” The dog opened his mouth to grab the other piece of meat, and his piece dropped into the water and disappeared. The moral of this fable is “Be careful, or you may lose what you have by grabbing for what isn’t there.”
Here is another fable. One day a fox saw a juicy bunch of grapes hanging from a high vine. The fox jumped as high as he could, but he could not reach the grapes. He tried again and again. Each time he just missed the tasty-looking fruit.
“Oh, well,” he thought. “Those grapes are probably sour anyway.” And he went away without the grapes.
The fables remain some of the best-known stories in the Western world, often lending themselves to proverbs.