Saturday, 16 November 2013

'The Lion and the Four Bulls'

'The Lion and the Four Bulls', an illustration by John Vernon Lord in Aesop's Fables
Jonathan Cape, 1989.

The moral of this fable concerns 'strength in numbers' and 'union is strength - divided we fall'. 
It also suggests that the quarrels of friends are the opportunities of enemies, who will divide and rule to gain power. In this illustration our viewpoint is that of the Lion. The fields here are not far from where I live in Sussex, looking at Oldland Manor in the distance

The Lion and the Four Bulls
FOUR Bulls fed in a field together in the greatest peace and amity. A Lion had long watched them in the hope of making prize of them, but found that there was little chance for him so long as they kept all together. He therefore began to spread evil and slanderous reports of one against the other, till he had fomented a jealousy and distrust amongst them. No sooner did the Lion see that they avoided one another, and fed each by himself apart, then he fell upon them singly, and so made an easy prey of them all.

Text: based on Thomas James (151, 1848).
Selected Parallels: Babrius 44. Avianus 18. Caxton, Avianus 14. L’Estrange 1/236. Perry 372. TMI J1022.

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