Aesop is the supposed author of a collection of animal fables which, like the Sanskrit Panchatantram
, teach shrewdness and worldly wisdom.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Aesop lived during the sixth century BC and was probably a slave on the island of Samos. It is said that Aesop was ugly and deformed and those who came to listen to his tales laughed as much at him as at his stories. Though no historical information on Aesop is available, he was probably a real person. In later times his name became synonymous with 'fable' and many tales not composed by him were nevertheless attributed to him.
A collection of fables that relied heavily on Aesop was that of Phaedrus, written in Rome in the 1st century AD. Phaedrus' treatment of them greatly influenced the way later writers used them, notably the 17th century French poet and fabulist Jean de La Fontaine.