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Aesop was, by tradition, a Greek slave, and he is known today exclusively for the genre of fables ascribed to him. ‘Aesop’s Fables’ have remained popular throughout history, and are still taught as moral lessons and used as subjects for various entertainment, especially children’s plays and cartoons.
See the fact file below for more information on the Aesop or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Aesop worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Very little is known about Aesop’s origins. Amorium, Phrygia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Samos, Athens, Sardis, Thrace, and many other places have been suggested by different authors as his place of birth.
- Some claim that his name may be derived from “Acthiop”, a word often used by the ancient Greeks to refer to any dark-skinned people from the African interior.
- His date of birth is likewise uncertain, but the best estimate may be around 620 BCE. According to some medieval traditions, he was extremely deformed, although there is no contemporary evidence to that effect.
- It is probable that Aesop himself never translated his “fables” into writing, but that the stories were passed orally.
- Moreover, it is thought that even Aesop’s original fables were probably a compilation of tales from various sources, many of which originated with authors who lived long before Aesop.
- Certainly, there were prose and verse collections of “Aesop’s Fables” as early as the 4th Century BCE. They were in turn translated into Arabic and Hebrew, further enriched by additional fables from these cultures.
- Anthropomorphism, or animals with human capabilities, is the common thread throughout Aesop’s fables.
- The most famous among them are The Tortoise and the Hare, in which the plodding turtle and the energetic rabbit hold a race. The arrogant hare is so confident that he rests and falls asleep halfway; the wiser tortoise plods past and wins. “Slow but steady wins the race,” the fable concludes.
- These and other Aesop fables, wrote Peter Jones in the Spectator in 2002, often pit “the rich and powerful against the poor and weak. They stress either the folly of taking on a stronger power, or the cunning which the weaker must deploy if he is to stand any chance of success; and they often warn that nature never changes”.
- Several phrases are traced back to the fables of Aesop, such as “don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” which concludes the tale of the greedy Milkmaid and Her Pail.
- In “The Fox and the Grapes,” a fox ambles through the forest and spies a bunch of grapes. Thirsty, he tries in vain to reach them but finally gives up and walks off muttering that they were likely sour anyway. From this comes the term “sour grapes.”
Thrown from Cliff
- According to myth, Aesop won such fame throughout Greece for his tales that he became the target of resentment and perhaps even a political witch-hunt.
- He was accused of stealing a gold cup from Delphi temple to the god Apollo and was supposedly tossed from the cliffs at Delphi as punishment for the theft.
- His tales told of human folly and the abuses of power, and he lived during a period of tyrannical rule in Greece. His defense, it is said, was the fable “The Eagle and the Beetle,” in which a hare, being preyed upon by an eagle, asks the beetle for protection.
- The small insect agrees, but the eagle fails to see it and strikes the hare, killing it. From then on, the beetle watched the eagle’s nest and shook it when there were eggs inside, which then fell to the ground. Worried about her inability to reproduce, the eagle asks a god for help, and the deity offers to store the eggs in its lap. The beetle learns of this and puts a ball of dirt there among the eggs, and the god—in some accounts Zeus, in others Jupiter—rises, startled, and the eggs fall out.
- For this reason, it is said, eagles never lay their eggs during the season when beetles flourish. “No matter how powerful one’s position may be, there is nothing that can protect the oppressor from the vengeance of the oppressed” is the moral associated with this particular fable.
- The first written compilation of Aesop’s tales came from Demetrius of Phaleron around 320 BCE, entitled Assemblies of Aesopic Tales, but it disappeared in the ninth century.
- The first extant version of the fables is thought to be from Phaedrus, a former slave from Macedonia who translated the tales into Latin in the first century C.E. in what became known as the Romulus collection.
- Valerius Babrius, a Greek living in Rome, translated these and other fables of the day into Greek in the first half of the 200s C.E. Forty-two of those, in turn, were translated into Latin by Avianus around 400 C.E.
- There is also a link between Aesop and Islam. The prophet Mohammed mentioned “Lokman,” said to be the wisest man in the east, in the 31st chapter of the Koran.
- In Arab folklore, Lokman supposedly lived around 1100 B.C.E. and was an Ethiopian. His father, it was said, was descended from the biblical figure Job. Some of his tales may have been adapted by Aesop some five centuries after his death.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Aesop across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Aesop worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Aesop who was, by tradition, a Greek slave, and he is known today exclusively for the genre of fables ascribed to him. ‘Aesop’s Fables’ have remained popular throughout history, and are still taught as moral lessons and used as subjects for various entertainment, especially children’s plays and cartoons.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Little Aesop
- Fable Illustrated
- The Lion and the Mouse
- The Tortoise and the Hare
- A Silly Animal Tale
- Fun-tastic Fables
- A Kid’s Kindness
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Link will appear as Aesop (Greek Author) Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 28, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.