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Aesop: Legendary Voice for the Voiceless

August 18, 2016

Very little is known of the Aesop that actually existed — if there even were such a person.

Herodotus,  writing some two hundred years after Aesop is believed to have lived, briefly mentions him in The HIstories. describing him as a story-teller, and a fellow slave of the beautiful and infamous courtesan Rhodopis. The only biographical detail Herodotus gives us about Aesop himself is that the citizens of Delphi, in order to obey an oracle, put a hit out on him, which was ultimately carried out by his former master’s grandson.

Every other detail of Aesop’s life (and maybe, even this much) has been imagined, borrowed, or invented. But the stories we tell can be just as enlightening as any verifiable facts we found them on.

In the 13th Century of the Common Era, Maximus Planudes, a monk in Constantinople, composed the The Life of Aesop, in which he describes Aesop as a hunchbacked, squint-eyed, dwarfish, mute (he was given a voice through a miracle from the goddess Isis), and also a Black man — because his name was close to “Aethiops:” a Greek term for African.

Whether Aesop was actually Black and Disabled, or whether this story was a twisted fantasy that framed him as a doubly exotic Other, the figure he has become demonstrates the potential power of marginalized people. Without the blinders of privilege, we are able to see the weaknesses in society that those in power can safely ignore.

We have stories that no one else can tell.

And that is why I chose Aesop as my publishing identity.

 

 

 

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