Lion and the Mouse, The

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The Lion and the Mouse is an Aesopic fable found in various collections throughout the world.

A lion was asleep in his den one day when a mouse ran across his outstretched paw and up the royal nose of the king of beasts, awakening him from his nap. The mighty beast clapped his paw on the now thoroughly frightened little creature and would have made an end of him.

“Please,” squealed the mouse, “don’t kill me. Forgive me this time, O King, and I shall never forget it. A day may come, who knows, when I may do you a good turn to repay your kindness.” The lion, smiling at his little prisoner’s fright and amused by the thought that so small a creature ever could be of assistance to the king of beasts, let him go.

Not long afterward the lion, while ranging the forest for his prey, was caught in a net hunters had set to catch him. He let out a roar that echoed throughout the forest. Even the mouse heard it and, recognizing the voice of his benefactor, ran to the spot where the lion lay tangled in the net of ropes. “Well, Your Majesty,” said the mouse, “I know you did not believe me once when I said I would return a kindness, but here is my chance.” And he set to work to nibble with his sharp little teeth at the ropes that bound the lion.

Soon the lion was able to crawl out of the hunter’s snare to freedom.

Moral: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

In the Indian version the lion is replaced by an elephant, as elephants were often tied to trees as a preliminary to taming them. The Greek form of the fable reached Egyptian literature about 200 c.e. The German composer Werner Egk set the fable for narrator, chorus, and orchestra in 1931 for a radio program.



Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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