Even though some scholars take Aesop’s life to be infamous, the life Aesop led can clearly be traced back to over 2000 years ago, and mainly through the fables attributed to his name. The incidences cited majorly point to scholarly accepted facts established on Aesop’s birth, life and death (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 20). Aesop is thought to have been born around 620 B.C and raised as a slave by two masters who were both inhabitants of Samos. However, the available literatures do not provide parental evidences as well as the life Aesop led before getting into slavery (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 20). The information as to how Aesop landed in the hands of slave masters remained a mystery even to those who thought knew him very well.
Aesop served Xanthus and Jadmon in succession as a slave, but later while serving as a slave, Jadmon decided to grant Aesop freedom because of his outstanding performances, learning and wit (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 22). This was a long waited opportunity, and for once, Aesop could take active roles in public affairs, contributed towards social development through ethical teachings.
Through good approaches to philosophical understanding and its application in everyday life, Aesop was able to elevate himself from a position of indignity and servile condition to a highly renowned position in the society. As a freedman in ancient republic of Greece, Aesop developed the desire to instruct and get instructed, and his entire life was dedicated to serving humanity, travelling from country to countries, nation to nations (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 25). One of the remarkable event was his interaction with the famous King of Lydia, a city known to contain only learning and learned men; men whose lives revolved around strange tales and philosophies (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 25). During his visit to Sardis, the capital of King Lydia, he took part in a court proceeding at Croesus where he met other philosophers like Solon and Thales, and because of Aesop’s eloquence and philosophical illustrations during conversations, his royal master nicknamed him “Phrygian”, to mean a man whose level of wisdom and reasoning surpasses them all.
Aesop was later invited by Croesus and decided to become a permanent resident of Sardis, serving the monarch in different occasions especially with complex State affairs. The response Aesop gave to his jurisdictional duty became far much better than what the monarch and populate expected, extending some of his commissions as discharged by the State to republic of Greece. Aesop’s reconciliatory work emerged during the periods of rulers Periander and Pisistratus of Corinth and Athens respectively (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 26). The wise decision to make inhabitants of the two cities become one thing was the foundation of all the endless tales of a hero in the early 6th century. However, Aesop’s ambassadorial duty did not last long as people had expected. In one of his philosophical speeches he writes, “Those who do good to the society meets the cruelty of nature and dies a bad death.”
Aesop met his untimely death while performing his ambassadorial mission at the prompt command of Croesus. As an ambassador during that time, Aesop was charged with the responsibility of meeting citizens and serving them with various items provided by the rulers of the city (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 29). This particular time, Aesop was given the duty as the city’s ambassador to distribute gold gifts to citizens as it had always been the city’s tradition. Before Aesop could distribute the gold to the people, he realized that the crowd was slowly charging and becoming covetous. The behavior made Aesop to stop distributing the gold gifts and instead sent them back to Croesus. This action by Aesop made the people of Delphi to turn against him and his position as the city’s ambassador. The people of Delphi branded Aesop an enemy, ignoring his ever outstanding character both as a philosopher and ambassador, but instead executed (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 31). This was an act of cruelty, and just as he had predicted before, nature does not pay good attribute to the good will of people, but provokes the minds of people to fight amongst themselves and to kill their own.
However, Aesop’s death and cruelty he faced throughout his dedication to serving humanity did not go unavenged. After Aesop’s death, the people of Delphi faced various calamities characterized by series of droughts and hunger, sickness, deaths and constant conflict among citizens (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 31). The first requirement in order to bring to an end all the calamities was that the people of Delphi were to make a public reparation over the death of Aesop since the blood of a philosopher otherwise known as the “servant of God” was a well-known adage, with a simple message that, “every wrong will not pass unpunished.” The events that followed after Aesop’s execution as a public criminal were immortalized by a statue that was erected at Athens. The gods had been appeased, bringing to an end a long periods of calamities in Athens and surrounding parts of Delphi.
Aesop’s story summary
The original work behind Aesop’s life presents a figure clouded with mystery and conflicting ideas, a legend that became so difficult to mention amidst the good attributes and social contributions (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 23). Even the people who thought to have known him like Herodotus and Aristotle could only mention a few things about the actual life of Aesop with much elaboration on his work and the events that led to his death. Socrates’ overview of Aesop’s fables is pegged on the foundation of reality as the coinage of all philosophical arguments, and this could only mean that Aesop was probably a slave in early sixth century, a time connected to 620 B.C.
Beyond the descriptions provided under the subsections birth, life and death, there is little information to mention about the actual Aesop because every discussion in the 21st century refers to Aesop as a mythical figure to whom fables are ascribed (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 23). Even though the story behind the real life of Aesop cannot be retrieved according to different scholars, the information presented in this discussion form the foundation of an endless investigation that digs deep to a period beyond 6th Century (Perry & Pierpont Morgan Library, 2006, p. 24). The history of Aesop reveals how he served as an ugly slave who could not speak even at the mercies of his masters. Aesop’s life as a slave became highly despicable when he started serving two masters concurrent. With high levels of commitments and learning through nature, a slave gets a one-time opportunity to become a servant master. He is granted the power to speak only in return for one this he loves most, services to god Isis’ attendant.
The story of Aesop give a detailed connection between the events that followed from the time he withdrew his services to one of the god Isis’ servant and the moment he set to serve as a philosophical servant in Samos Under the guidance of Xanthus. At such a time, the life of Aesop retails around wild stories, witty fables and several improper episodes that finally illustrated how smarter the slave (Aesop) was than his master (Xanthus). Even with his high level of reasoning and philosophical approach to issues, Aesop still accepts to work under Xanthus, setts a permanent residence at the Monarch in Sardis and finally becomes a highly ranked ambassador to Croesus, a responsibility he took to serve the interests of a thirsty population until his untimely death.
In general, the famous stories behind the life of Aesop only illustrate his life as a slave, philosopher and ambassador who is later rejected and executed for standing in truth. The expressions given by different scholars on the life and story of Aesop demonstrate how people can at times become overwhelmed and forget the good contributions a person has made in their lives and only focus on short-term gifts. To some scholars, the even that led to the death of Aesop shows how people’s emotions and level of reasoning can be swayed by material gifts like gold. All this information make Aesop’s story to be more of a mystery than a reality, and used as a fable to derive certain social attributes.
Perry, B. E., & Pierpont Morgan Library. (Eds.) (2006). Studies in the text history of the life and fables of Aesop. Haverford, Pa: American Philological Association. Press.