January 29, 2024

#08-832: The Lion and the Mouse

The mouse frees the lion (Wikimedia)

Note: Who doesn't know--and love--the fables of Aesop? These simple tales contain a wealth of wisdom. Plus, they're entertaining!

Get Ready: Do you believe that only "the great" can be useful to others? What about the humble people, with lowly positions in society?

Among the great story collections of Europe, one of the most ancient and enduring is popularly known as Aesop's Fables. A fable is usually understood to be a story featuring animals, with a clear lesson--called a "moral"--stated at the end.

Legend says Aesop was an ancient Greek slave whose stories were so clever that his owner set him free. A further tradition also says that he was hideously ugly, but overcame this affliction by telling engaging stories. Of course, there may have been no such person at all.

Aesop's works became so popular that later generations added many of the stories we call "Aesop's" long after his day, attaching his name to stories he never heard!

Any of us could probably tell a number of stories attributed to Aesop: "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," "The Ants and the Grasshopper," and so on. But let's look at one of my favorites, "The Lion and the Mouse."

A Lion, the "King of the Beasts," was sleeping away when a Mouse accidentally ran across his face and woke him. The "King" was furious; slapping out his giant paw he caught the tiny Mouse underneath it, and was just raising the terror-stricken beastie to his mouth when the Mouse cried out:

"Oh, Your Majesty! I know you will think nothing of your humble servant, small as I am. But who has enough friends in this wicked world? If you would spare my life, I would swear friendship, and someday perhaps even be able to do you a good turn."

The Lion was so tickled at such a silly suggestion that all he could do was laugh at the Mouse's nerve, and on a whim let him go.

Not long after, the Lion was caught in a trap set by hunters. They tied him to a tree with strong ropes and left him there as they went to fetch their wagon. Recognizing the Lion's roars of distress, the Mouse came and immediately began gnawing through the rope with his tiny teeth before the hunters returned.

As he set the Lion free, the Mouse exclaimed: "You ridiculed the idea of one such as I ever being able to help you. You never expected your favor to be repaid. But now you have learned that it is possible for even the greatest person to be helped by the least."

The Mouse's moral can be restated, "No one is so unimportant that they cannot be useful to others." Another moral is, "Kindness is its own reward."


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. affliction
  2. enduring
  3. gnawing
  4. humble
  5. overcame
  6. ridiculed
  7. spare
  8. terror-stricken
  9. tickled
  10. whim
  1. choose not to kill or harm
  2. chewing
  3. a sudden, unexplained changing of the mind
  4. made fun of
  5. rose above; went past
  6. lowly
  7. amused
  8. long-lasting
  9. extremely frightened
  10. a cause of suffering; a handicap

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 1, 2024

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. j; 2. h; 3. b; 4. f; 5. e; 6. d; 7. a; 8. i; 9. g; 10. c