Æsop, Clodius

, a celebrated actor, who flourished about the 670th year of Rome. He and Roscius were contemporaries, and the best performers who ever appeared upon the Roman stage; the former excelling in tragedy, the latter in comedy. Cicero put himself under their direction to perfect his action. Æsop lived in a most expensive manner, and at one entertainment is said to have had a dish which cost above 800l.; this dish we are told was filled with singing and speaking birds, some of which cost near 50l. Pliny (according to Mr. Bayle) seems to refine too much, when he supposes that JEsop found no other delight in eating those birds but as they were imitators of mankind; and says that Æsop himself being an actor was but a copier of man; and therefore he should not have been lavish in destroying those birds, which, like himself, copied mankind. The delight which Æsop took in this sort of birds proceeded, as Mr. Bayle observes, from the expence. He did not make a dish of them because they could speak, but because of their extraordinary price. JEsop’s son was no less luxurious than his father, for he dissolved pearls for his guests to swallow. Some speak of this as a common practice of his, but others mention his falling into this excess only on a particular day, when he | was treating his friends. Horace speaks only of one pearl of great value, which he dissolved in vinegar, and drank.

Æsop, notwithstanding his expences, is said to have died worth above 160,000l. When he was upon the stage, he entered into his part to such a degree, as sometimes to be seized with a perfect ecstacy. Plutarch mentions it as reported of him, that whilst he was representing Atreus deliberating how he should revenge himself on Thyestes, he was so transported beyond himself in the heat of action, that with his truncheon he smote one of the servants crossing the stage, and laid him dead on the place. 1


Gen. Dict.