ancient Greek storyteller

Aesop (or Æsop, from Greek Αἴσωπος Aisopos) (c. 620 BC – c. 560 BC) was an ancient Greek fabulist of possibly African descent (his Greek name means Ethiopian or black man in today's parlance), by tradition a slave who credited the African goddess Isis for his gift. Aesop's Fables are still taught as moral lessons and used as subjects for various entertainments, especially children's plays and cartoons.

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.


  • Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
    • The Wolf and the Lamb.
  • Appearances often are deceiving.
    • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.
    • Juno and the Peacock.
  • Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.
    • The Lion, The Ass, And The Fox Hunting.
  • Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
    • The Dog and the Shadow.
  • Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing.
    • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
    • The Milkmaid and Her Pail.
  • Don't cry over spilt milk.
    • The Milkmaid and Her Pail.
  • Enemies' promises were made to be broken.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt.
    • The Fox and the Lion.
    • Variant: Acquaintance softens prejudices.
  • I am sure the grapes are sour.
    • The Fox and the Grapes.
  • I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.
    • The Man and the Satyr.
  • In critical moments even the very powerful have need of the weakest.
    • The Lion and the Mouse.
  • It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.
    • The Wolf and the Kid.
  • It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.
    • The Ant and the Grasshopper.
  • It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.
    • The Jay and the Peacock.
  • Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.
    • The Fox and the Goat.
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
    • The Lion and the Mouse.
  • People often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.
    • The Dog in the Manger.
  • Persuasion is often more effectual than force.
    • The Wind and the Sun.
  • Put your shoulder to the wheel.
    • Hercules and the Wagoner.
  • Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.
    • The Frog and the Ox.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.
    • The Hare and the Tortoise.
  • The boy cried "Wolf, wolf!" and the villagers came out to help him.
    • The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf.
  • The fly sat upon the axel-tree of the chariot-wheel and said, 'What a dust do I raise!'
    • The Fly on the Wheel.
  • The gods help them that help themselves.
    • Hercules and the Wagoner.
  • The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle's own plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.
    • The Eagle and the Arrow.
  • Thinking to get at once all the gold the goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.
    • The Goose with the Golden Eggs.
  • Union gives strength.
    • The Bundle of Sticks.
  • We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.
    • The Old Man and Death.
  • While I see many hoof marks going in, I see none coming out. It is easier to get into the enemy's toils than out again.
    • The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts.


  • We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
    • The first known appearance of this "quote" attributed to Aesop, is in the 1965 edition of the book 10,000 Jokes, Toasts & Stories by Lewis and Faye Copeland. No story of fable is known for which it could be the moral or lesson.
    • There is a similar saying on theft by Cato.

Quotes about Aesop

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