Aesop's Fables: Lions, Part 2

Here you will see the story of the lion both victorious (The Four Oxen) and defeated (The Lion in Love). You will also see the lion as a trickster. Note the two very different versions of that last fable: in one version the lion is outfoxed by the fox, but in the other version it is the ass who refuses to fall for the lion's trick! There are sometimes big variations between one fable and another, and sometimes smaller ones; for example, note how in the story of The Lion in Love, in one version the lion gets laughed at, but in the other version he gets killed!

[Notes by LKG]

These fables are part of the Aesop's Fables (Jacobs) unit. Story sources: The prose fables are from The Fables of Aesop by Joseph Jacobs (1894) and the limericks and illustrations are from The Baby's Own Aesop by W. J. Linton and illustrated by Walter Crane (1887).

Lions, Part 2

Jacobs 52. The Four Oxen and the Lion (Perry 372)

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

United we stand, divided we fall.

~ ~ ~

Jacobs 71. The Lion in Love (Perry 140)

A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to enrage the King of Beasts.

At last the father said: "We feel highly honoured by your Majesty's proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would gladly consider your proposal again."

The Lion was so much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst.

Love can tame the wildest.

Crane 48. The Lion in Love (Perry 140)

Though the Lion in love let them draw
All his teeth, and pare down every claw,
He'd no bride for his pains,
For they beat out his brains
Ere he set on his maiden a paw.


Jacobs 73. The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts (Perry 142)

The Lion once gave out that he was sick unto death and summoned the animals to come and hear his last Will and Testament. So the Goat came to the Lion's cave, and stopped there listening for a long time. Then a Sheep went in, and before she came out a Calf came up to receive the last wishes of the Lord of the Beasts. But soon the Lion seemed to recover, and came to the mouth of his cave, and saw the Fox, who had been waiting outside for some time. "Why do you not come to pay your respects to me?" said the Lion to the Fox.

"I beg your Majesty's pardon," said the Fox, "but I noticed the track of the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many hoof-marks going in, I see none coming out. Till the animals that have entered your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air."

It is easier to get into the enemy's toils than out again.

~ ~ ~

Crane 66. The Ass and The Sick Lion (Perry 142)

Crafty Lion, perhaps with the gout,
Kept his cave; where, to solve any doubt,
Many visitors go:
But the Ass, he said "No!"
They go in, but I've seen none come out."


Next page: Foxes, Part 1

(600 words)

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