, the fabulist. Of this man, the reputed author of many fables, it is very doubtful whether we are in possession of any authentic biography. The life by Planudes, a monk of the fourteenth century, is universally considered as a series of fictions; and the notices of him in writers of better authority, are not sufficiently consistent to form a narrative. The particulars usually given, however, are as follow. He was born at Amorium, a small town in Phrygia, in the beginning of the sixth century before the Christian aera, and was a slave to two philosophers, Xanthus and Idmon, the latter of whom gave him his liberty, on account of his good behaviour and pleasantry. The philosophers of Greece gained a name by their lofty sentences, clothed in lofty words; Æop assumed a more simple and familiar style, and became not less celeb rated. He taught virtue and ridiculed vice, by giving a language to animals and inanimate things; and composed those fables, which under the mask of allegory, and with all the interest of fable, convey the most useful lessons in morality. The fame of his wisdom spreading over Greece and the adjoining countries, Croesus, the king of Lydia, sent for him, and was his generous benefactor. There he found Solon, whom he soon equalled in favour, however different his mode of conducting himself. Solon preserved his austerity in the midst of a corrupt court, was a philosopher among courtiers, and often offended Croesus by obtruding his advice, who at last dismissed him. “Solon,” said Æsop, “let us not address kings, or let us say what is agreeable.” “By no means,” replied the philosopher, “let us either say nothing, or tell them what is profitable.Æsop made frequent excursions from the court of Lydia into Greece. When Pisistratus assumed the chief power at Athens, Æsop, who witnessed the dissatisfaction of the people, repeated to them his fable of the frogs petitioning Jupiter for a king. He afterwards travelled through Persia and Egypt, everywhere inculcating morality by his fables. The kings of Babylon and Memphis received him with distinguished honour; and on his return to Lydia, Croesus sent him with a sum of money to Delphi, where he was to offer a magnificent sacrifice to the god of the place, and | distribute a certain sum of money to each of the inhabitants. But being offended by the people, he offered his sacrifice, and sent the rest of the money to Sardis, representing the Delphians as unworthy of his master’s bounty. In revenge, they threw him from the top of a rock. All Greece was interested in his fate, and at Athens a statue was erected to his memory. Lurcher, in his notes on Herodotus, fixes his death in the 560th year before the Christian aera, under the reign of Pisistratus. Planudes, who, as already observed, wrote his life, represents him as exceedingly deformed in person, and defective in his speech, for which there seems no authority. It is to this monk, however, that we owe the first collection of Æsop’s Fables, such as we now have them, mixed with many by other writers, some older, and some more modern than the time of Æsop. He wrote in prose; and Socrates, when in prison, is said to have amused himself by turning some of them into verse. Plato, who banished Homer and the other poets from his republic, as the corruptors of mankind, retained Æsop as being their preceptor. Some are of opinion, that Lockman, so famous among the orientals, and Pilpay among the Indians, were one and the same with Æsop. Whatever may be in this, or in the many other conjectures and reports, to be found in the authorities cited below, the fables of Æsop may surely be considered as the best models of a species of instructive composition, that has been since attempted by certain men of learning and fancy in all nations, and particularly our own; nor will it be easy to invent a mode of arresting and engaging the attention of the young to moral truths, more pleasant or more successful. The best editions of Æsop are those of Plantin, Antwerp, 1565, 16mo; of Aldus, with other fabulists, Venice, 1505, fol. and Franckfort, 1610; that called Barlow’s, or “Æsopi Fabularum, cum Vita,London, 1666, fol. in Latin, French, and English; the French and Latin by Rob. Codrington, with plates by Barlow, now very rare, as a great part of the edition was burnt in the fire of London; Hudson’s, published under the name of Marianus (a member of St. Mary Hall), Oxford, 1718, 8vo. They have been translated into all modern languages; and CroxalPs and Dodsley’s editions deserve praise, on account of the life of Æsop prefixed to each. 1


Dict. Hist.Athenæum, vol. III.—Works of the Learned, vol. I. p. 94.— Gen. Dict. &c.