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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.
PUBLICATIONAesopica, vol. 1. Edited by B. E. Perry. Urbana, 1952.
In Russian translation:
Basni Esopa. Moscow, 1968.
REFERENCESGasparov, M. L. Antichnye literaturnye basni, Moscow, 1971.
Nøjgaard, M. La Fable antique, vol. 1. Copenhagen, 1964.
M. L. GASPAROV