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Greek culture and Aesop's Fables

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each

Group Size


Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Social & Civic Responsibility




Summary:This lesson uses Aesop's Fables as a primary source to help the student understand the political and social thought during the Greek 6th and 5th centuries B.C. The student will research five to eight fables, try to figure out the moral for each and write an essay on how Aesop influenced the morals and ideals of ancient Greece.

Enduring Understanding:Students will analyze the political and social organization of classical Greece.

Essential questions:

  • What do Aesop's Fables tell us about the social culture of Classical Greece?
  • How did the stories and morals of Aesop's fables affect the politcal atmosphere of Classical Greece.


  • pen/pencil and paper
  • 5 to 8 of Aesop's Fables

Background for Teachers

Use the following web site to find five to eight fables by Aesop to use as primary sources. (The author of this website is changing sites. To get into the one you need after clicking on the above site, click on the rectangular box that says "Aesop's Fables".) Scroll down to "section 1, 2, 3, and 4. This has an entire selection of fables to use. Print off the fables you wish to use.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students will need a basic knowledge of ancient Greece from about 600 to 400 B.C. This can come from reading the textbook on the Greeks. Pay attention to social and family practices.

Instructional Procedures

  1. Ask the students to write a paragraph telling the story of their favorite fairy/folk tale when they were a child.
  2. Discuss with the students what the word "moral" means. Have them try to write a moral for their story.
  3. Call on a few students to read their story and what the moral might be.
  4. Introduce the lesson to your students by explaining that studying Aesop's Fables as a primary source gives us a unique perspective into the political, social and family life of Ancient Greece.
    Short History: Aesop was a Greek slave who lived on the island of Samos in the early 6th century. He was apparently a famous teller of tales. Someone must have written down the tales, because Herodotus and Aristophanes used his stories in their writings. Roman, Byzantine and Medieval writers reproduced his stories. The stories were told to children around the campfire, or in homes to pass on the ideals and morals of the Greeks.
  5. Pass out the fables (without a moral) to each of the students. Have them get with another student and read the fables together and try to figure out what the moral may be.
  6. Have each pair choose one of the stories and tell the class what they think the moral of the story may be.
  7. Discuss with the class what the real morals were that Aesop taught and how these morals, taught to children, affected Greek politics, society and family life. An example of how you might use this for your students is as follows.
      The fable called, The Father and His Sons, has the moral "United we stand, divided we fall." What does this tell us about Greek society and family life? Looking at Greek history when did this moral come into play? (Persian Wars)
  8. The students will now individually write a 2-3 page essay on how the morals of Aesop affected the political, social and family life in Ancient Greece during the 400s and 300s B.C. with examples from this time period.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

A student who struggles with reading or an ESL student can check out a picture book from a local library and use this to do the assignment.

Assessment Plan

The student will write a 2 to 3 page essay on how Aesop's fables influenced Greek political, social and family life during the 500s and 400s B.C. The student must give examples from Greek history to strengthen their essay. Remember the example from the fable "The Father and His Sons" in the instructional procedure section of this lesson.



Created: 08/05/2002
Updated: 02/05/2018