Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Even through his eternal fame, little is truly known about Aesop. From ancient Greek information, we can conclude that he

was born into slavery and was released due to his intellect. ( He supposedly lived from 620-560

B.C. ( Ironically, it is believed he suffered from a speaking disorder at a young age, but quickly grew out of it. As

time progressed for Aesop, he became interested in writing. At first, his writings were mere political satires and stories, but

grew into his renowned fables. The majority of his fables consisted of an animal protagonist overcoming a conflict with the

psychological reward of morality. Although not a household name in some families, Aesop’s fables are known worldwide.

Anyone who has read "The Tortoise and the Hare" or "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is vaguely familiar with Aesop’s work.


A fable is a short story, typically with anthropomorphic animals, conveying a moral. ( Aesop was the father

of fables. For a man who lived over 2,000 years in the past and yet his work is still taught to (generally) younger audiences,

shows that art, be it of paint, pencil, or word, can become eternal. Aesop wrote over 600 fables during his life; most had animal

protagonists that in the end of the story learned a moral. Many of these fables have been translated over the years into different

languages, one of which is English. Though not the majority, some of his fables have received worldwide notoriety because of

their moral connection that is still relevant in our day. Some of these allegories include The Tortoise and the Hare, the Boy Who

Cried Wolf, the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, et cetera.

Much of the information anthropologists and historians have gathered about Aesop’s life is diminutive, and what most think

they know, is often disputed. Aesop is believed to have been born in 620 B.C, and his birthplace is said to be Athens, Thrace,

Amorium, Samos Island, Aethiopia, Sardis or Phrygia. He was born into slavery to his master Iadmon. Due to his wit and

cleverness, Iadmon decided to free young Aesop from slavery. Subsequent to his newly earned freedom, Aesop began writing

and thus started his new-found career and fame.


As Aesop progressed in age, he also did in wit and intellect. Aesop was known to people as clever, sarcastic, and often he

would often catch flaws in arguments and use that to his advantage. These qualities have helped Aesop get himself out of

negative situations, but these retorts may also have helped get him into those situations as well. Traits such as these may help a

writer; the ability to think on their feet and be witty to overturn the anger or bias of the person arguing with them.


“You may kill me, but my unjust death will bring you great misfortune” ( are the last words

uttered by Aesop. Though the exact reason is not fully known, Aesop was killed by Delphinian’s for what is believed to be

either theft of a golden goblet, or because of his writings (deemed “unfit” perhaps). Aesop’s life was cut short from being

thrown off a cliff of Delphi. In one way or another, the Delphinian’s did pay for their acts. Upon their people spread pestilence,

famine, and debt, and an Oracle of Apollo attributed this to the murder of Aesop. ( (

There is much conflicting information concerning Aesop’s life. Also, the information historians and anthropologists have

collected is sparse, and seems to vary from story to story. Because of the contradictory evidence given, historians and other

writers have come to conclude that perhaps Aesop is just an interesting, likeable character created by a conglomeration of

diverse sources. His writings may have been by various people, working together to create a more interesting story than “a

bunch of writers who wrote 600 fables”. Aesop actually appears in the writings of Aristophanes and Plato, but this is still

insufficient information to prove his existence. ( (

Though Aesop may not have actually existed, his character is definitely an interesting one, and although he himself may not

always be remembered or attributed to such masterpieces as The Boy Who Cried Wolf or the Tortoise and the Hare, his (or their)

legacy remains in the words of the fables. Perhaps Aesop himself is just a fable.

Works Cited

"Aesop Biography." Biography Base Home. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <>.

"Aesop - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss." The Literature Network: Online Classic Literature, Poems, and Quotes. Essays & Summaries. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <>.

"Aesop." MURAL - Student Homepages at University of Valencia. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <>.

"Fable | Define Fable at" | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <>.

"Aesop's Fables - Plato's Academy, a Blog about Everything Greek." Home - Plato's Academy, a Blog about Everything Greek. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. <>.