I had the pleasure of perusing “The Great Fables of All Nations”.[i] There in the sand and sun I skipped through delightful anecdotes often of interest to the classicist in me. Here I present one from Aesop. (b. 620 BC) This version translated by George Fyler Townsend
“The Tortoise and the Eagle A tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?'"
An enlightening little tale, but somehow familiar. I thought of the death of Aesop himself, but that was at the hands of the people at Delphi as Komroff pointed out. So my curious had to wait until I crossed the border and was home again. The death I was thinking of was the death of Aeschylus in 456 or 455 BC
According to Ursula Hoff [ii] “According to Pliny and Valerius Maximus, Aeschylus, of whom it had been predicted that he was to meet his death on a certain days as the result of an object falling on his head, went out into the open, trusting in the clear sky, and was killed by a tortoise, dropped on to his head by an eagle.” Both Pliny and Valerius Maximus wrote in the first century AD
So, was Aesop’s tale inspired by Aeschylus’ death or were the later writers’ anecdotes on Aeschylus’ death inspired by Aesop?