Aesop: the Man Behind the Fables

15 May 2011

The Dog and His Bone

When did Aesop first tell of the greedy dog? No one knows for sure ...

Most people have heard of the collection of talking-animal-packed fables ascribed to Aesop, but what do we know about the man himself?

Astonishingly, considering his fame and lasting impression in the world of fables, very little.

Here are a few facts:

1. Aesop was likely born some time around 620 BC. No word on when he first told the story of The Dog and His Bone (our newest addition to Wild Fables! Check out the video trailer here.)

2. Most sources agree that Aesop was born a slave, and was eventually freed.

3. No first-hand writings by Aesop have survived. As far as anyone can tell, he did not have a blog. Or even a Twitter feed! (have we mentioned you can follow us at @razeware ?)

4. Almost everything written about Aesop’s life has at one time or another been contested or dismissed as fictional. The Loch Ness Monster can totally relate …

5. Some scholars theorize that Aesop might have been Ethiopian, given his name. Many scholarly papers have focused on Aesop’s ethnicity–too bad we don’t know where he’s buried, or we could have Bones solve this mystery for us!

6. What did the master of fables look like? Some sources describe Aesop as fabulously ugly, though many believe those descriptions to be mostly legend. Ancient writings tell of sculptures and paintings of Aesop, but they don’t seem to have survived.

7. How did Aesop die? Legend has it he insulted the residents of Delphi and was thrown off a cliff. That tale might not be true, but it’s certainly dramatic! And it seems like there might be a moral lesson in there somewhere …

As you can see, most “facts” about Aesop are more accurately described as “tidbits of varying degrees of credibility”. Nevertheless, feel free to trot them out during conversational lulls at your next play date or dinner party!

Aesop's dog, with his bone

Did Aesop have a pet dog? The truth has been lost to history ...

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