Lion’s Share, The

The Lion’s Share is an Aesopic fable found in various collections throughout the world. The lion preferred to hunt alone, but now and then he would invite other beasts to accompany him. On one such occasion the hunters cornered and killed a fat stag. Taking a commanding position before the dead stag, the lion roared: “Beasts, it is time to divide the spoils. I demand that it be quartered.

The first quarter shall fall to me as king of the beasts. The second is mine as arbiter. A third quarter is due me for my part in the chase. Now, as for the fourth part”—and here the lion gave an ominous growl—“let him take it who dares!” Moral: Many may share in the labors but not in the spoils. The companions of the lion in the Greek version of Phaedrus are a cow, a goat, and a sheep. In the medieval versions of Marie de France and Benedict of Oxford (whose tales are in Hebrew) the lion’s partners are carnivorous, which seems appropriate to the setting.

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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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