The Shepherd and the Lion book cover

The Shepherd and the Lion

"The Shepherd and the Lion" is a fable from Jean de La Fontaine's collection of stories, illustrating moral lessons through the interactions of animals. In this tale, he teaches the reader about the dangers of making false accusations and the consequences of deceit. The shepherd falsely accuses a lion of eating his sheep, and the clever lion uses logic to prove his innocence while revealing the truth.

Genre: Fable

Fables are sometimes more than they appear: A crude, bare moral wearies some, I fear. The simplest animal to truth may lead; The story and the precept make one heed: They pass together better than apart: To please, and yet instruct, that is the art. To write for writing's sake seems poor to me; And for this reason, more especially-- Numbers of famous men, from time to time, Have written fables in laconic rhyme, Shunning all ornament and verbose length, Wasting no word, unless to gain in strength. Phædrus was so succinct, some men found fault; Curt Æsop was far readier still to halt. But, above all, a Greek[1] did most excel, Who in four verses told what he would tell. If he succeeded, let the experts say; Let's match him now with Æsop, by the way. A Shepherd and a Hunter they will bring: I give the point and ending as they sing, Embroidering here and there, as on I go;-- Thus Æsop told the story, you must know. A Shepherd, finding in his flocks some gaps, Thought he might catch the robber in his traps, And round a cave drew close his netted toils, Fearing the Wolves, and their unceasing spoils. "Grant, king of gods, before I leave the place," He cried, "grant me to see the brigand's face. Let me but watch him rolling in the net. That is the dearest pleasure I could get!" Then from a score of calves he chose the beast, The fattest, for the sacrificial feast. That moment stepped a Lion from the cave; The Shepherd, prostrate, all intent to save His petty life, exclaimed, "How little we Know what we ask! If I could only see Safe in my snares, that caused me so much grief, The helpless, panting, miserable thief, Great Jove! a Calf I promised to thy fane: An Ox I'd make it, were I free again." Thus wrote our leading author of his race; Now for the imitator, in his place. [1] Gabrias.
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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