Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/The Life of Æsop/Chapter I

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Cap. I.

Of Æsop's Countrey, Condition, and Person.

ÆSOP (according to Planudes, Camerarius and Others) was by birth, of Ammorius a Towne in the Greater Phrygia; (though some will have him to be a Thracian, others a Samian) of a mean Condition, and in his person deformed, to the highest degree: Flat-Nos'd Hunch-Back'd, Blobber-Lipp'd; a Long Miss-shapen Head; His Body Crooked all over, Big-Belly'd, Baker-Legg'd, and his Complexion so swarthy, that he took his very Name from't; for Æsop is the same with Æthiop. And he was not only Unhappy in the most scandalous Figure of a Man that ever was heard of; but he was in a manner Tongue-Ty'd too, by such an Impediment in his speech, that People could very hardly understand what he said. This Imperfection is said, to have been the most sensible part of his Misfortune; for the Excellency of his Mind might otherwise have Attoned in some Measure, for the uncouth Appearance of his Person (at least if That Part of his History may pass for Current.) There goes a Tradition, that he had the good hap to Relieve certain Priests that were Hungry, and out of their way, and to set them Right again, and that for that good Office, he was, upon their Prayers, brought to the Use of his Tongue: But Camerarius whom I shall Principally follow, has no Faith in the Miracle, And so begins his History with the tracing of him to Samos, and from thence Prosecutes it through the most Remarkable Passages of his Life, to the Last Barbarous Violence upon him at Delphos. As to his Impediment in his speech, whether there were any such thing or Not, or how he came to be cur'd of it, the Reader is at Liberty what to Believe and what Not. And so likewise for Twenty Other Passages up and down this History; Some of them too Triviall, and others too Gross to be taken Notice of, Upon this Argument and Occasion: Let it suffice, that (according to the Common Tradition) he had been Alreadie Twice Bought and Sold; and so we shall Date the Story of his Adventures; from his Entrance into the Service of at least a Third Master.

As to the Age he liv'd in, it is Agreed upon among the Ancients, that it was when Crœsus Govern'd Lydia; as also that Xanthus, a Samian, was his Master. Herodotus will have it to be one Jadmon, a Samian too; but still according to the Current of most Writers, Xanthus was the Man.