The historical Aesop, in so far as he was historical, would seem to have been a Phrygian slave, or at least one not to be specially and symbolically adorned with the Phrygian cap of if iberty. He lived, if he did live, about the 6th century BC, in the time of that Croesus whose story we did love and suspect like everything else in Herodatus. There are also stories of deformity of feature and a ready ribaldry of tongue: stories which (as the celebrated Cardinal said) explain, though they do not excuse, his having been hurled over a high precipice at Delphi. Aesop may have been a fiction like Uncle Remus, a fact. It is odd to note that both the great slaves told their best stories about beast and birds.

Aesop, or Babrius (or whatever his name was), understood that, for a fable, all the person must be impersonal. They must be like abstraction in algebra, or like pieces in chess. The lion must always be stronger than the wolf, just as four is always double for two.