THE LIFE and History of Aesop is involved, like that of Homer, the most famous of Greek poets, in much obscurity.
These few facts are all that can be relied on with any degree of certainty, in reference to the birth, life, and death of Aesop. They were first brought to light, after a patient search and diligent perusal of ancient authors, by a Frenchman, M.
Bayle thus characterises this Life of Aesop by Planudes, "Tous les habiles gens conviennent que c'est un roman, et que les absurdites grossieres qui l'on y trouve le rendent indigne de toute."
Phaedrus, the great imitator of Aesop, plainly indicates this double purpose to be the true office of the writer of fables.
"Don't mention Aesop to me, I beg of you!" exclaimed King Dox.
"But we employ our wisdom to do good, instead of harm; so that horrid Aesop did not know what he was talking about."
Neither give thou AEsop
's cock a gem, who would be better pleased, and happier, if he had had a barley-corn.
I perceived him to be a very great historian in Aesop
's Fables; but he frankly declared to me his mind, that he did not delight in that learning, because he did not believe they were true.
But I've got 'AEsop
's Fables,' and a book about Kangaroos and things, and the 'Pilgrim's Progress.'"
Do you know, you speak Greek as well as AEsop
did, my dear La Fontaine."
was a Greek slave who could not even write down his wonderful fables; yet all the world reads them."
One after another he comes up in his private adventures with every fable of Aesop
, of Homer, of Hafiz, of Ariosto, of Chaucer, of Scott, and verifies them with his own head and hands.