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The Lion & the Mouse

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For the Caldecott Medal winner, see The Lion & the Mouse.

The Lion and the Mouse is an Aesop’s fable. In the fable, a lion wants to eat a mouse who wakes him up. The mouse begs forgiveness and promises to return the favor if ever he is given the opportunity. He also makes the point that such unworthy prey as he should not stain the lion’s great paws. The lion is moved to uncontrollable laughter and when he recovers, lets the mouse go, stating that he has not had such a good laugh in ages.

Later, the lion is captured by hunters and tied to a tree; the lion roars with all his might so that someone might help him. The mouse hears the lion’s pleas and frees him by gnawing through the ropes. The moral of this story is stated in the last line of the fable:

Little friends may prove great friends.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”

Another Aesop fable with a similar moral lesson concerns a slave who removes a thorn from a lion’s paw, and the lion later comes to the slave’s rescue.[1]

The story may have Ancient Egyptian roots. A nearly identical tale was told by Thoth to Hathor in one myth.

The Scottish poet, Robert Henryson, in a version of the fable that he made in the 1480s, expands the plea that the mouse makes and introduces serious themes of law, justice and politics. He made it the central poem in his Morall Fabillis.

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