"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." —The Lion and the Mouse
It is both amazing and wonderful that so much of the richness of our language and our moral education still owes a huge debt to a Greek slave who was executed over two thousand years ago. Yet "sour grapes," "crying wolf," "a dog in a manger," "actions speak louder than words," honesty is the best policy," and literally hundreds of other metaphors, axioms and ideas that are now woven into the very fabric of Western culture all came from Aesop's Fables.
The earliest extant collections of Aesop's stories were made by various Greek versifiers and Latin translators, to whose compilations were added tales from Oriental and ancient sources to form what we now know as Aesop's Fables. The majority of European fables, including those of La Fontaine, are largely derived from these succinct tales.
An extraordinary storyteller who used cunning foxes, surly dogs, clever mice, fearsome lions, and foolish humans to describe the reality of a harsh world, Aesop created narratives that are appealing, funny, politically astute, and profoundly true. And Aesop's truth—often summed up in the pithy "moral of the story"—retains an awesome power to affect us, reaching us through both our intellects and our hearts.