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Aesop (ēˈsəp, ēˈsŏp), legendary Greek fabulist. According to Herodotus, he was a slave who lived in Samos in the 6th cent. B.C. and eventually was freed by his master. Other accounts associate him with many wild adventures and connect him with such rulers as Solon and Croesus. The fables called Aesop's fables were preserved principally through Babrius, Phaedrus, Planudes Maximus, and La Fontaine's verse translations. The most famous of these fables include “The Fox and the Grapes” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.” See fable.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Greek author of fables in the sixth century B.C. According to legend, Aesop was a Phrygian freedman who was employed at the court of the Lydian king Croesus and died a violent death in Delphi. Biographical information on Aesop is drawn from legend.

Aesop has been credited with supplying the themes of most of the fables known in antiquity. Short written versions of these fables were collected in the fourth and third centuries B.C.; more than 300 fables with short “morals” appear in many later manuscripts ranging in time from the tenth to the 15th century. Ideologically, Aesop’s fables are skeptical and pessimistic; their protagonists—mainly animals—are avowedly conventional figures, the narrative is concise and straightforward, and the language is simple and close to the colloquial. Aesop’s fables are the basic source of themes for the European literary fable from Phaedrus and Babrius to La Fontaine and I. A. Krylov.


Aesopica, vol. 1. Edited by B. E. Perry. Urbana, 1952.
In Russian translation:
Basni Esopa. Moscow, 1968.


Gasparov, M. L. Antichnye literaturnye basni, Moscow, 1971.
Nøjgaard, M. La Fable antique, vol. 1. Copenhagen, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


semi-legendary fabulist of ancient Greece. [Gk. Lit.: Harvey, 10]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?620--564 bc, Greek author of fables in which animals are given human characters and used to satirize human failings
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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