10 Interesting Facts about Aesop

Those who really love to read Aesop’s fables must have known one of these following facts about Aesop. However, do you know who Aesop was? Aesop was an Ancient Greek fabulist or story teller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s fables. Although his existence remains uncertain and (if they ever existed) no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day. Many of the tales are characterized by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems, and generally have human characteristics. To get to know more about him, here are some other facts about Aesop you might like.

Facts about Aesop 1: Aesop’s Life

Scattered details of Aesop’s life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. An ancient literary work called The Aesop Romance tells an episodic, probably highly fictional version of his life, including the traditional description of him as a strikingly ugly slave.

Facts about Aesop 2: Birthplace

The earliest Greek sources, including Aristotle, indicate that Aesop was born around 620 BCE in Thrace at a site on the Black Sea coast which would later become the city Mesembria. A number of later writers from the Roman imperial period say that he was born in Phrygia.

Facts about Aesop - Aesop as depicted by Francis Barlow
Facts about Aesop – Aesop as depicted by Francis Barlow

Facts about Aesop 3: The Aesop Romance

The Aesop Romance became a folkbook, a work that belonged to no one, and the occasional writer felt free to modify as it might suit him. Multiple, sometimes contradictory, versions of this work exist. The earliest known version “was probably composed in the 1st century AD”.

Facts about Aesop 4: Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables continued to be revised and translated through the ensuing centuries, with the addition of material from other cultures, so that the body of fables known today bears little relation to those Aesop originally told.

Facts about Aesop - Portrait
Facts about Aesop – Portrait

Facts about Aesop 5: Question of African Origin

A much later tradition depicts Aesop as a black African from Ethiopia. The presence of such slaves in Greek-speaking areas is suggested by the fable “Washing the Ethiopian white” that is ascribed to Aesop himself. This concerns a man who buys a black slave and, assuming that he was neglected by his former master, tries very hard to wash the blackness away.

Facts about Aesop 6: Art and Literature

Ancient sources mention two statues of Aesop, one by Aristodemus and another by Lysippus, and Philostratus describes a painting of Aesop surrounded by the animals of his fables. None of these images have survived.

Facts about Aesop - Pushkin
Facts about Aesop – Pushkin

Facts about Aesop 7: Play

A raposa e as uvas (“The Fox and the Grapes”), a play in three acts about the life of Aesop by Brazilian dramatist Gulherme Figueiredo, was published in 1953 and has been performed in many countries, including a videotaped production in China in 2000 under the title Hu li yu pu tao.

Facts about Aesop 8: Popular Culture

Occasions on which Aesop is portrayed as black include Richard Durham’s “Destination Freedom” radio show broadcast (1949), where the drama “The Death of Aesop,”portrays him as an Ethiopian. In 1971, Bill Cosby played Aesop in the TV production Aesop’s Fables.

Facts about Aesop - Tsukuba Isop
Facts about Aesop – Tsukuba Isop

Facts about Aesop 9: Animated Shorts

Beginning in 1959, animated shorts under the title Aesop and Son appeared as a recurring segment in the TV series Rocky and His Friends and its successor, The Bullwinkle Show.

Facts about Aesop 10: Aesop’s Fables Transmission

The body of work identified as Aesop’s Fables was transmitted by a series of authors writing in both Greek and Latin. Demetrius of Phalerum made a collection in ten books, probably in prose (Αισοπείων α) for the use of orators, which has been lost.Next appeared an edition in elegiac verse, cited by the Suda, but the author’s name is unknown.

Facts about Aesop - Woodcut
Facts about Aesop – Woodcut

Hope you would find those Aesop facts really interesting, useful and helpful for your additional reading.

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