Compton, Todd M. 2006. Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History. Hellenic Studies Series 11. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Compton.Victim_of_the_Muses.2006.
Chapter 2. Aesop: Satirist as Pharmakos in Archaic Greece
Then, the Muses confer on him “each something of her own endowment,” and “with a prayer that he might achieve fame, the goddess went her way, and the Muses, when each had conferred her own gift, ascended to Mount Helicon.” 
Thus Aesop, whose unjust death had been engineered by Apollo, calls on “the leader [prostatēs] of the Muses” at the moment of his death to witness its injustice. But, as the Vita tells us earlier (33), Apollo is prostatēs tōn Mousōn.  As a further complication, another reference to Aesop cult hints at his identification with Apollo. Apollo had been angry when he, the leader of the Muses, had not been awarded a statue along with the Muses in the Samian Aesopeum; in Babylon, Lukoros erects a statue of Aesop with the Muses and institutes a great festival (heortēn megalēn) in honor of Aesop’s wisdom (123). As in the case of Marsyas, Apollo is antagonistic to Aesop because he is so much like himself in his mantic wisdom. It is striking that Aesop warns the Delphians to honor Apollo in Vita W.  Libanius speaks of Apollo raging because of the death of Aesop.  According to Zenobius, it is Apollo’s prophetess, the Pythia, who commands the Delphians to make recompense for the pollution of Aesop’s death. 
This attests to the paradox of hero cult for Aesop at Delphi, also found in W 142, the last paragraph of the Vita :
In G and W, Aesop’s death caused a war directed against the Delphians. Wiechers suggests that Aesop’s labeling the Delphians as slaves (G, W 126) provides a context for linking his death to the First Sacred War. In the Vita tradition, Aesop’s death causes the war, which the gods (especially, perhaps, Apollo, in G) send to the Delphians as punishment. But the result of the war was favorable for the Delphians, adding Cirrha/Crisa to their territory, making “all Delphi … sacred to Apollo.”  And the institutions that Aesop mocks—sending tithes of slaves and other things to Delphi, and priests eating all sacrificial meat, leaving none for the provider of the animal—came into being after the First Sacred War. Thus, Aesop’s mocking of ritual customs serves as an aition for their existence, and his death serves to further the holiness of Delphi—in fact, “an entire conglomeration of institutions sacred to Apollo—the very essence of Delphi after the First Sacred War.”  The ambiguity of Aesop’s relationship with Apollo has taken its last turn, bringing us into a complex interface between ritual, history, and story. Aesop, critic of Delphic practice and killed at inhospitable Delphi because of Apollo’s enmity, is sacred to Apollo, is Apollo’s servant, and is an aition for Delphic practice. 
Aesop as Pharmakos
- The pharmakoi are the most worthless people, they are aēdes-tatoi, akhrēstoi, eutelestatoi, agenneis, and phauloi—Aesop comes from the lowliest class of society, the slave class; he is repulsively ugly and entirely misshapen, and he is designated in the Vita as a katharma, a word that is commonly used as a synonym for pharmakos.
- The pharmakoi were led through the city before execution, then led out of it, so that they could meet their end at a designated, well-known place—Aesop experiences the same thing. He is also dragged for a long way to the place of execution, after he is fetched from prison; he also thereupon is led out of the city, so that he can finally be executed at the designated place of execution.
- The pharmakoi meet their death by stoning, or by being thrown over a cliff—Aesop is executed in just this way; either he is thrown down from cliffs, or he is killed by being thrown over a cliff linked with stoning.
- The pharmakoi were killed following a decision of the people (boulēi dēmosiēi, Hipponax 128W) by a crowd representing the whole people—Aesop comes up against a similar decision among the Delphians (ebouleusanto … anelein, G 127; they explain: … se epsēphisamen anelein, G 132) and is therefore killed by the entire people.
- The Pharmakos named by Istros has stolen a golden cup out of the temple treasure—Aesop is reproached for the same fault.
- The pharmakoi were offered in the Thargelia, performed for the service of Apollo; the pharmakos named by Istros commits an offense against this god and is destroyed by him. In the case of Aesop, Apollo also plays an important role; he also helps in the plot directed against Aesop. So the pharmakoi, as also Aesop, lose their lives because of Apollo. 
Wiechers also adduces Androgeus as an important parallel to the story of Aesop (the unjust murder of a stranger-guest, followed by the wrath of god, plague, and ritual purification).  Robertson compares Aesop’s execution by the Delphians to the archaic festival of Charila at Delphi, in which an effigy (of a poor orphan girl, begging, who has been kicked and excluded by the Basileus, then hangs herself in legend, resulting in the standard plague, oracle, and cult) is kicked, then taken away, strangled, and buried. 
Aesop as Satirist