Famous storyteller Aesop (620?-560? B.C.) was a Greek slave who was freed by his master, then rose to philosophical prominence.
"A fish in the hand is worth two in the sea," he wrote.
Aesop's popular parables demonstrated moral lessons and surprise endings. The special main characters may be animals, but the wisdom was meant for humans.
For example, in The Dog and the Shadow, a greedy dog dropped and lost the bone he was carrying when he saw his reflection in the water. "If you covet all," Aesop taught, "you may lose all."
With the classic Hare and The Tortoise, the arrogant hare sped by the slow tortoise, then took a nap, waking in time to see the tortoise cross the finish line first. "Slow but steady wins that race," Aesop philosophized.
Historians have been unsure how many of the tales were actually written by Aesop. Some scholars even believed he never existed. His works were polished by Jean de La Fontaine in his Fables (1668-1694), then translated into English by George Fyler Townsend (1814-1900) and Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914).
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Aesop taught in Jupiter and the Monkey . "United we stand, divided we fall," he reminded in Man and His Sons."Sometimes in order to survive," he observed, "it is better to give way."
It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.