Some of the most famous stories attributed to the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop focus on the value of hard work. From the triumphant tortoise that beats the hare to the father who tricks his sons into tilling the fields, Aesop shows us that the richest jackpots come not from lottery tickets, but from our own steady efforts.
Fables are short stories that serve as cautionary tales or teach us moral lessons. Aesop often used animals in the main roles and gave them human characteristics, like the ability to talk. It is thought that animals were used to get the point across to the audience without sounding preachy or scolding. People have told stories like these since they began to speak. Aesop was among the first who began to write down these oral traditions.
Aesop is thought to have been a Greek slave, who lived from 620 BC to 564 BC, who was an odd-looking short and pot-bellied fellow with a speech impediment. His story-telling ability often got him out of difficulty when others picked on him, and helped him win his freedom from slavery. Over time, his story-telling reputation spread, and he became quite influential in Greek society. He was often asked to tell his clever stories at gatherings. It is believed he was a valued advisor to king Croesus of Lydia, now northwest Turkey.
There are hundreds of tales attributed to Aesop. Some of his most famous fables include: The Fox and the Crow, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Miser, and the Ant and the Grasshopper. His tales not only entertain, but also teach valuable life lessons.
Some scholars say that Aesop never really existed but was a made-up name used by many storytellers to gain popularity. The truth will probably never be known, although Aristotle, Herodotus and Plutarch mention Aesop in their writings hundreds of years later. Whether real or not, Aesop’s tales represent wit and wisdom passed on from ancient Greece.
So, what lesson did you learn from Aesop? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? “Beauty is only skin deep”? “Birds of a feather flock together”? Or, perhaps “One good turn deserves another”? All of these wise teachings are from Aesop’s fables. Whichever is your favorite, you have Aesop, or at least some ancient Greek, to thank!