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The birth of Aesop, an ancient and Black storyteller, is celebrated on this day around 620 BC. He is known for his stories, which are called "Aesop's Fables," which have become a blanket term for collections of brief fables, usually involving anthropomorphic animals.
Aesop was a Black slave of Iadmon, located in the south of Greece near northern Africa. Most accounts describe Aesop as a deformed man whose name came from the Greek word Aethiops which means Ethiopia.
According to Herodotus, he lived in Samos in the 6th century BC and eventually was freed by his master, receiving his liberation in Iadmon. Other accounts connect him with many wild adventures and attach him with such rulers as Solon and Croesus.
The first extensive translation of Aesop into Latin was done by Phaedrus, a freedman of Augustus in the first century AD. The first printed version of Aesop's Fables in English was published on March 26, 1484, by William Caxton. William Dugard translated his stories from the Greek text of Planudes in 1715. There he also describes Aesop as one whom "Nature had gratified with an ingenious mind, but the Law had enslaved." Physically he had a large head, bowed legs, and a large belly.
During the reign of Peisistratus, Aesop visited Athens, where he told the fable of "The Frogs Asking for a King." He told the story to deter the citizens from attempting to replace Peisistratus with another ruler.
He prospered most about 550 BC, and was killed around 560 BC, ordered probably by a decree of the Delphic oracle, according to historical legends. It also has been said that compensation for his death was claimed by the grandson of his master.
His fables are some of the most well known in the world and remain a popular choice for moral education of children today. Many stories included in Aesop's Fables, such as "The Fox and the Grapes" (from which the idiom "sour grapes" was derived), "The Tortoise and the Hare," "The North Wind and the Sun," and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," are well-known throughout the world. A few famous quotations by Aesop are; "After all is said and done, more is said than done." "Any excuse will serve a tyrant." "United we stand, divided we fall." "Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything."
1001 things everyone should know about African American History
by Jeffery C. Stewart,
Copyright 1996, DoubleDay