As Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Nights Dream, God sheild us! – a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful thing than your lion living(qtd. in) Aesop among many other prominant authors wrote tales of animals taking on human characteristics, but none is so prevelant as the reputation of the mighty lion. Known as the king of animals, the lion appears as an object of strength and nobility in countless aspects of life including history, literature, art, astronomy, movies, and dance.
Who is this amazing creature? According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the lion Panthera Leo) is a flesh-eating animal that live cheifly in sandy plains and rocky places where there are thorn thickets and tall grass. Male lions can reach a length of 2. 50m (8ft), and a weight of 250kg (550lb). They can live for 15 years, but in captivity some have reached an age of up to 30 years. They mainly eat larger herbivores such as buffalo, zebra, and in cultivated areas an occassionally human. There strength is amazing, and both parents take great care in tending to their young, often referred to as cubs (168-69).
Much is to be said about the mannerisms and personalities of lions, and no one has ummed this up as well as Aesop. There are four fables listed in our textbook dealing with the qualities humans believe to be true about lions. These assumptions may have begun with Aesops fables, but really knows. In the first fable, The Lioness and the Vixen, the saucy personality of the lioness is shown. When denounced for the birth of only one cub, the lioness quickly snaps back aat the vixen, Only one, she said, but a lion(Aesop 607).
This answers the question of quality over quanity; and for most the lion is considered the best in quality the cream of the crop as some would say. Aesop terprets here that the lion knows he is the best, and doesnt mind sharing it with the rest of the animal kingdom. Aesop again illustrates the lion as being king in The Lion, The Wolf, , and The Fox. Aesop clearly writes all the animals came to pay respect to their king, (Aesop 607). Even in the title of the fable Aesop lists the lion first before the wolf and fox. This could just be by mishap, or as seen in other fables the animals could be listed in order of appearance in the text.
Regardless of the title Aesop gives the lion dominating powers of the other animals. He writes the lion emanded to know at once what cure he had found,(Aesop 608). Demanding things and getting them done is defenetily not an attribute the lamb generally has among fellow beasts. Next, in The Lion and the Mouse who Returned a Kindness, a different side of the lion is shown. The lion showing pity is seen when the lion lets the mouse live and go free. This is the opposite from the previous fable when the wolf is taken away and flayed alive. Also a vulnerable lion is illustrated; when the lion is trapped by a hunter, and then set free by a mouse.
This fable raises an interesting question to its readers. Who is the real king the lion or man? In the times of gladiators and the Roman Colosseum lions devoured humans in the arena, and were awarded for it. Although still greatly respected by humans, I think it is fair to say human beings rank above lions in the long run. It is noteworthy to say that biologists and other proffesionals have noticed some qualities of lions that wouldnt be asssociated with a king. Encyclopedia Britannica states that studies have shown that lions do sleep for most of the day, and on occassion use their intimidating factor to steal food caught my other animals.