The Lion and the Shepherd

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The Lion and the Shepherd
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the lyon / & of the pastour or herdman

The myghty and puyssaunt oughte not to be slowfull of the benefetes done to them by the lytyl and smalle And oughte not also to forgete them / but that they may be rewarded of them / And this fable approueth esope & sheweth vnto vs / of a lyon whiche ranne after a beest / and as he ranne / a thorne entred in to his foote / whiche hurted and greued hym gretely / wherefore he myght no ferther goo / but as wel as he cowde he came to a shepherd whiche kepte his sheep and beganne to flatere with his taylle shewynge to hym hys foote / whiche was sore hurted and wounded / The sheepherd was in grete drede and casted before the lyon one of his sheep / But the lyon demaunded no mete of hym / For more he desyred to be medycyned and made hole of his foote / And after whanne the sheepherd sawe the wounde / he with a nydle subtylly drewe oute of his foote the thorne / and had oute of the wound alle the roten flesshe / and enoynted hit with swete oynements / And anone the lyon was hole / And for to haue rendryd graces and thankys to the sheepherd or pastour the lyon kyssed his handes / And after he retorned ageyn in to the hyest of the woode / And within a lytel whyle after it happed that this lyon was taken and conueyed to the Cyte of Rome and was put amonge the other beestes for to deuoure the mysdoers / Now it befelle that the sayd shepeherd commysed a crymynous dede / wherfore he was condempned to be deuoured by these bestes / And ryght soo as he was cast emong them the lyon knewe hym / and beganne to behold on hym / and made hym to chere. and lykked hym with his tongue / And preserued and kepte hym from alle the other bestes / Thenne knewe the sheepherd that it was the lyon whiche he maade hole / And that he wold thenne haue recompensed hym of good whiche he had done to hym / wherof alle the Romayns were all wonderly abasshed / And wold knowe the cause of hit And the sheepherd / sayd to them as aboue is sayd / And whanne they knewe the cause / the gaf leue to the sheepherd / to goo home / and sente ageyne the lyon in to the forest /

And therfore this is notary and trewe that al maner of folke ought to rendre and gyue thankynges grace and mercye to theyre good doers / For slowfulness is a synne / whiche is moche displaysaunt to god /

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

A Lion, roaming through a forest, trod upon a thorn. Soon afterward he came up to a Shepherd and fawned upon him, wagging his tail as if to say, "I am a suppliant, and seek your aid." The Shepherd boldly examined the beast, discovered the thorn, and placing his paw upon his lap, pulled it out; thus relieved of his pain, the Lion returned into the forest. Some time after, the Shepherd, being imprisoned on a false accusation, was condemned "to be cast to the Lions" as the punishment for his imputed crime. But when the Lion was released from his cage, he recognized the Shepherd as the man who healed him, and instead of attacking him, approached and placed his foot upon his lap. The King, as soon as he heard the tale, ordered the Lion to be set free again in the forest, and the Shepherd to be pardoned and restored to his friends.

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

Androcles and the Lion

A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat from which to live. But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles he recognised his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor, surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon the slave was pardoned and freed, and the Lion let loose to his native forest.

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.