By Jayaram V
Aesop's fables are as relevant today as they were centuries
ago. Like the Panchatantra of ancient India or the Jataka tales
of the Buddhist lore, Aesop's fables fired the imagination of generations
of young minds since ancient times, reminding them of the age old
moral values and the importance of being good and practicing virtue
in a world filled with diverse characters and immense possibilities.
The fables are remarkably simple in expression, but convey appealingly
the deeper truths of human life and character, leaving a lasting
impression upon the readers and listeners alike. Although some of
the stories are as old as our civilization, they are as relevant
today as they were thousands of years ago. Many perhaps do not know
that some of the best remembered and well known sayings like "self
help is the best help" or "much ado about nothing" or "look before
you leap", are derived from Aesop's Fables only.
The history of Aesop is buried in antiquity and, like that of
Homer, is shrouded in myth and legend. He probably lived sometime
around the 6th BC, in ancient Greece, first as a slave, serving
two masters and then as a free intellectual, earning a good reputation
for his remarkable wit and wisdom.
There is also controversy about his death. According one version,
he did not die naturally, but was rather killed in Delphi, by a
group of angry people, following a misunderstanding.
There is no general consensus as to what constitutes the original
fables of Aesop and how many were later on added or ascribed to
him, owing to his popularity. It is possible Aesop might have gleaned
a number of stores from ancient lore, improvising upon some of them
and adding some of his own.
Trade relations existed between India and Greece even prior to
the invasion of Alexander, and there was free flow of ideas between
the two ancient civilizations. There is ample possibility that some
of the fables of Aesop were derived from Indian and Buddhist traditions,
through merchants and travelling monks from the Indian subcontinent,
especially from the hinterland of Gandhara, or the present day Afghanistan.
The striking similarities between some stories of the Panchatantra
and those of Aesop do suggest that both these works might have shared
some ideas and inspiration from the same melting pot of ancient
folklore and moral values. It is possible that the stories might
have traveled both ways, along the trade routes and through the
merchant caravans, marching armies and wandering tribes, and became
part of the native folklores...
Source: Reproduced partially from
the article, "Morals From Aesop's Fables" from the book Think Success
by Jayaram V. You may purchase this book from
our online store or from
Suggested Further Reading