Life Of Aesop
THE life and history of AEsop is involved, like that of Homer, the famous of Greek poets, in much obscurity, Sardis, in capital of Lydia; Samos, a Greek island; Mesembria,an ancient colony in Thrace; and Cotiaeum, the chief city of a province of Phrygia, contend for the distinction of being the birthplace of AEsop. Although the honor thus claimed cannot be definitely assigned to any one of these places, yet there are a few incidents now generally accepted by scholars as established facts, relating to the birth, life, and death of AEsop. He is, by almost universal consent, allowed to have been born about the year 620 B. C., and to have been by birth a slave. He was owned by two masters in succession, both habitants of Samos, Xanthus, and Jadmon, the latter of gave him his liberty as a reward for his learning and wit, One of the privileges of a freedman in the ancient republics of Greece, was the permission to take an active interest in public affairs; and AEsop, like the philosophers Phaedo Menippus, and Epictetus, in later times, raised himself from the indignity of a servile condition to a position of the renown. In his desire alike to instruct and to be instructed he traveled through many countries, and, among others came to Sardis, the capital of the famous king of Lydia the great patron, in that day, of learning and of men. He met at the court of Croesus with Solon, Thales, and other sages, and it is related so to have pleased his royal master, by the part he took in the conversations held with these philosophers, that he applied to him an expression which has since passed into a proverb: "The Phrygian has spoken better than all."
On the invitation of Croesus, he fixed his residence at Sardis, and was employed by that monarch in various difficult and delicate affairs of State. In his discharge of these commissions, he visited the different petty republics of Greece. At one time, he is found in Corinth, and at another in Athens, endeavoring, by the narration of some of his wise fables, to reconcile the inhabitants of those cities to the administration of their respective rulers-- Periander and Pisistratus. One of these ambasssadorial missions, undertaken at the command of Croesus, was the occasion of this death. Having been sent to Delphi with a large sum of gold for distribution among the citizens, he was so provoked at their covetousness that he refused to divide the money, and sent it back to his master. The Delphians, enraged at this treatment, accused him of impiety, and, in spite of his sacred character as ambassador, executed him as a public criminal.
These few facts are all that can be relied on with any degree of certainty, in reference to the birth, life, and death of Aesop. They were first brought to light, after a patient search and diligent perusal of ancient authors, by a Frenchman, M. Claud Gaspard Bachet de Mezeriac.