Monday, September 9, 2013

Aesop Biography

AESOP (Αίσωπος)

This bust is said to represent Aesop, but was
made around 400-500 years after his death.

Ø      No one knows if Aesop ever really lived.

Ø      The earliest account of Aesop comes from Aristotle, who lived around 384-322 BC. According to Aristotle, Aesop lived somewhere around 620-564 BC. This means that the earliest written account of Aesop came two hundred years after his death.

Ø      Every ancient historian who mentioned Aesop claimed that he had lived in a different city or island. Possibly, he lived on the island of Samos.

Ø      There is a legend of Aesop called The Aesop Romance. Parts of it fit Aristotle’s description, but both stories are considered highly fictional.

Ø      According to the Aesop Romance, he was slave to a man named Xanthus. Aesop was horribly ugly and couldn’t talk, but he showed kindness to a priestess of Isis, and the goddess blessed him with the ability to speak and tell stories.
Aesop, by Diego Velázques, painted in 1639
Ø      Aesop earned his freedom and became an ambassador, travelling to various cities. According to the legend, Aesop was killed in the city of Delphi, after insulting the people there with his stories. He was forced to jump off a cliff.

Ø      77 fables are attributed to Aesop. None of these stories survive in their original version, but many ancient scholars spoke about them, so they must have existed. What we have today are versions that have been retold over and over again, changing a little every time.

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