6th century BC

The first known mention of Aesop, the man who is said to have authored the classic fables, is contained in the Greek historian Herodotus' History (c.425). Herodotus portrayed him as a freed slave who came from Samos, a Greek Island off the coast to Turkey. Other contemporaries of Aesop mention his as well including writers Aristophanes, Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle. Martin Luther and others later contended that Aesop was not an actual person.

In medieval times, Aesop was depicted as deformed and as having a speech problem that was cured by a God. His depiction by artists such as Velazquez is a man with a physical deformity.

Aesop fables provide many allegorical references and practical advice on contemporary human issues such as politics and self-knowledge. They were popularized by Phaedrus in the first century AD and rewritten by La Fontaine in 1688.

Herodotus reported that Aesop died after being pushed off a cliff in Delphi. The reasons for his murder were not conveyed by Herodotus. Various hypotheses exist for why Aesop was killed including his insulting sarcasms, his having embezzled money, or for his having stolen a golden cup.

Writings about Aesop and his fables

Daly, Lloyd W. (1961). Aesop Without Morals: The Famous Fables, and a Life of Aesop, Newly Translated and Edited. New York and London: Thomas Yoseloff.

Aesop. Retrieved from on February 27, 2010.

Aesop fables. Retrieved from on February 27, 2010.