Aesop (c. 620–564 BCE) was an ancient Greek fabulist, or storyteller, credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables. His existence remains uncertain, with many historians arguing that Aesops is most likely not a real person. No writings by him survive, eventhough numerous tales were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day and are credited to him. Many of the tales are characterized by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems, and generally have human characteristics.
Some details of Aesop’s life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. The earliest Greek sources, including Aristotle, claim that Aesop was born around 620 BC in Thrace at a site on the Black Sea coast.
Aristotle and Herodotus tell us that Aesop was a slave in Samos and that his masters were first a man named Xanthus and then a man named Iadmon. They also assume that Aesop must eventually have been freed, because later in life he argued as an advocate for a wealthy Samian and that he eventually met his end in the city of Delphi.
Plutarch also describes how Aesop came to Delphi on a diplomatic mission from King Croesus of Lydia, he insulted the Delphians, and was sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of temple theft and was thrown from a cliff (after which the Delphians suffered pestilence and famine). Before this fatal episode, Aesop met with Periander of Corinth, where Plutarch has him dining with the Seven Sages of Greece, sitting beside his friend Solon, whom he had met in Sardis.
For a person who may not have existed, Aesop had a pretty interesting life.
The fables attributed to Aesop are numerous and are all listed here: Aesop’s Fables