The Fable of Aesop the Slave©

There was a time, long ago, when many people in the world were slaves. An African slave known as Aesop was one of these people. Though he could not read or write, he had a talent for telling stories about animals in such a way that taught moral lessons. We know them as fables. However, his master, a wealthy Greek landlord, was not happy with him. The master became concerned that all his other slaves thought Aesop was wiser than he.

One day, the master decided to test Aesop’s wit. He called him to his quarters and said, “Tell me, Aesop, can you give me a good reason why I should set you free?”

Aesop replied, “Because, sir, a bird in the cage can do very little for its master. But a bird set free can sing his master’s praises throughout the land.”

How clever, his answer, thought the master. He is right—I can set him free and offer him to the king’s court. King Croesus will forever reward me for the services of this witty man.

So Aesop was brought to King Croesus, the richest of all kings. He immediately liked Aesop and his fables. However, the king’s wise men became jealous of Aesop and tried to make a fool of him in front of the king. But Aesop always presented a story that outsmarted them.

One day, the wise men advised the king that he could become richer if his army would attack another nearby kingdom. But Aesop disagreed with the wise men. He told the king the fable about the man who killed the goose that laid the golden egg. It taught a lesson about the greedy, who want more and end up losing everything. Because the king listened to Aesop, his kingdom was saved.

Soon after, the king received bad news from the Greek city of Delphi. The people were starving and needed help. The king ordered his largest sailing ship to be loaded with food and sent to the desperate city. He appointed Aesop as his ambassador on the mission.

When Aesop arrived in Delphi, he called all the townspeople together. He told them that he had brought enough food for everyone, but that each must share an equal amount. However, some of the people wanted more and began to grab more than their share. Rioting broke out. Soon there was not enough food for everyone. The remaining mob turned their anger on Aesop. They grabbed him, carried him to a nearby cliff, and threw him to his death on the rocks below.

When news of this tragedy reached the king, he was so shocked and angered that he refused to send further help or food to the city of Delphi. As a result, the remaining people died in the famine that followed.

One day soon after, the saddened king turned to his wise men and asked the question: “If Aesop could speak to us today, what lesson would he draw from this tragic story?”

One of the humbled wise men said, “Do not bite the hand that feeds you.” Another replied, “Give thanks and loyalty to those who put bread on your table.”

Loyalty and thanks we share
With those who give us love and care.