The Bowman and Lion

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The Bowman and the Lion
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the hunter and of the tygre

Werse is the stroke of a tonge / than the stroke of a spere as hit appiereth by this fable / Of a hunter / whiche with his arowes hurted the wyld beestes / in suche wyse that none scaped for hym / to the whiche bestes a tygre fyers and hardy sayd in this manere / Be not aferd / For I shalle kepe yow wel / And as the Tygre came in to the wode / the hunter was hyd within a busshe / the whiche whan he sawe passe the tygre before the busshe / he shote at hym an arowe / and hytte hym on the thye / wherfore the tygre was gretely abasshed And wepynge and sore syghynge sayd to the other beestes / I wote not from whens this cometh to me / And whanne the foxe sawe hym soo gretely abasshed / al lawhynge sayd to hym / Ha a tygre / thow arte so myghty and so stronge / And thenne the tygre sayd to hym / My strengthe auaylled me not at that tyme / For none may kepe hym self fro treason And therfore some secrete is here / whiche I knewe not before But not notwithstandynge this I maye wel conceyue / that there is no wors arowe / ne that letteth more the man / than tharowe whiche is shotte fro the euyll tongue / For whanne som persone profereth or sayth som wordes in a felauship / of somman of honest & good lyf / alle the felauship supposeth that that whiche this euylle tongue hath sayd be trewe / be hit trewe or not / how be it that it be but lesynge / but notwithstondynge the good man shalle euer be wounded of that same arowe / whiche wound shalle be Incurable / And yf hit / were a stroke of a spere / hit myght be by the Cyrurgyen heled / but the stroke of an euylle tongue may not be heled / by cause that Incontynent as the word is profered or sayd / he that hath sayd hit / is no more mayster of hit /

And for this cause the stroke of a tongue is Incurable and withoute guaryson

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Bowman and Lion

A very skillful Bowman went to the mountains in search of game, but all the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The Lion alone challenged him to combat. The Bowman immediately shot out an arrow and said to the Lion: "I send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayest learn what I myself shall be when I assail thee." The wounded Lion rushed away in great fear, and when a Fox who had seen it all happen told him to be of good courage and not to back off at the first attack he replied: "You counsel me in vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?"

Be on guard against men who can strike from a distance.