Aesop was almost certainly a legendary figure. He was an ancient Greek storyteller, credited with passing down a number of fables known as Aesop’s Fables. None of his writings have survived, 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 (Aesop’s Fables). Most of Aesop’s Fables are characterized by speaking animals and inanimate object that can solve problems, and in general show human emotions and characteristics.
Despite most scolars arguing that Aesop is most likely not a real person, there are some details of his life that 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. There he insulted the Delphians, and was sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of stealing from the temple of Delphi and was eventually thrown from a cliff. Before this episode, Plutarch describes how Aesop met with Periander the tyrant of Corinth. Plutarch also recounts a story of Aesop dining with the Seven Sages of Greece, sitting beside his friend Solon. 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