Aesop was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop's Fables.
19 Facts About Aesop
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 who by his cleverness acquires freedom and becomes an adviser to kings and city-states.
The earliest Greek sources, including Aristotle, indicate that Aesop was born around 620 BCE in the Greek colony of Mesembria.
Plutarch tells us that Aesop came to Delphi on a diplomatic mission from King Croesus of Lydia, that he insulted the Delphians, that he was sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of temple theft, and that he was thrown from a cliff.
Collections of what are claimed to be Aesop's Fables were transmitted by a series of authors writing in both Greek and Latin.
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.
The frontispiece of William Godwin's Fables Ancient and Modern has a copperplate illustration of Aesop relating his stories to little children that gives his features a distinctly African appearance.
In 1876 the Italian painter Roberto Fontana portrayed the fabulist as black in Aesop Narrates His Fables to the Handmaids of Xanthus.
In that mixture of live action and animation, Aesop tells fables that differentiate between realistic and unrealistic ambition and his version there of "The Tortoise and the Hare" illustrates how to take advantage of an opponent's over-confidence.
On other continents Aesop has occasionally undergone a degree of acculturation.
The Fables are gathering about Aesop, being fond of him because he devotes himself to them.
For it combines animals with men to make a chorus about Aesop, composed of the actors in his fables; and the fox is painted as leader of the chorus.
In 1843, the archaeologist Otto Jahn suggested that Aesop was the person depicted on a Greek red-figure cup, c 450 BCE, in the Vatican Museums.
Aesop plays a fairly prominent part in Plutarch's conversation piece "The Banquet of the Seven Sages" in the 1st century CE.
Sir John Vanbrugh's comedy "Aesop" was premiered at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London, in 1697 and was frequently performed there for the next twenty years.
Aesop stands while he sits; he is dressed in dark clothes, she in lighter shades.
Johann Michael Wittmer's Aesop Tells His Fables depicts the diminutive fabulist seated on a high pedestal, surrounded by an enraptured crowd.
Occasions on which Aesop was played as black include Richard Durham's Destination Freedom radio show broadcast, where the drama "The Death of Aesop" portrayed him as an Ethiopian.
Aesop was played by Mhlekahi Mosiea in the 2010 South Africa adaptation of British playwright Peter Terson's musical Aesop's Fables.