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. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day. Many of the tales are characterized by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems and generally have human characteristics.
Scattered details of Aesop’s life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. The earliest Greek sources, including Aristotle, indicate that Aesop was born around 620 BC in Thrace at a site on the Black Sea coast which would later become the city Mesembria.
From Aristotle and Herodotus we learn that Aesop was a slave in Samos and that his masters were first a man named Xanthus and then a man named Iadmon; that he must eventually have been freed, because he argued as an advocate for a wealthy Samian; and that he met his end in the city of Delphi. Plutarch tells us that Aesop had come to Delphi on a diplomatic mission from King Croesus of Lydia, that he insulted the Delphians, 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.
The fables attributed to Aesop are numerous and are all listed here: Aesop’s Fables