The Lion and The Mouse

A Lion was caught in a net by freed by a Mouse that had, before, bothered the Lion. They became friends.

Everyone has need of the other.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him. This soon awakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon the Mouse and opened his big jaws to swallow him.

“Pardon, O King,” cried the little Mouse, “forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: and I may be able to do you a favor in the future.” The Lion was so taken at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he let him go.

Some time after, the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters tied him to a tree. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight of the Lion, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. “Was I not right?” said the little Mouse.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Lion and Mouse

Milo Winter (1919)

A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.

“Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you.”

The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.

Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter’s net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.

“You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse. “Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.”


A kindness is never wasted.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Lion and MouseA LION, faint with heat, and weary with hunting was laid down to take his repose under the spreading boughs of a thick shady oak. It happened that, while he slept, a company of scrambling Mice ran over his back, and waked him. Upon which, starting up, he clapped his paw upon one of them, and was just going to put it to death, when the little suppliant implored his mercy in a very moving manner, begging him not to stain his noble character with the blood of so despicable and small a beast. The Lion, considering the matter, thought proper to do as he was desired, and immediately released his little trembling prisoner. Not long after, traversing the forest in pursuit of his prey, he chanced to run into the toils of the hunters; from whence, not able to disengage himself, he set up a most hideous and loud roar, The Mouse, hearing the voice, and knowing it to be the Lion’s, immediately repaired to the place, and bid him fear nothing, for that he was his friend. Then straight he fell to work, and, with his little sharp teeth, gnawing asunder the knots and fastenings of the toils, set the royal brute at liberty.


Whittingham - Lion and Mouse

C. Whittingham (1814)

This fable gives us to understand, that there is no person in the world so little, but even the greatest may, at some time or other, stand in need of his assistance; and consequently that it is good to use clemency, where there is any room for it, towards those who fall within our power. A generosity of this kind is a handsome virtue, and looks very graceful whenever it is exerted, if there were nothing else in it: but, as the lowest people in life may, upon occasion, have it in their power either to serve or hurt us, that makes it our duty, in point of common interest, to behave ourselves with good-nature and lenity towards all with whom we nave to do. Then the gratitude of the Mouse, and his readiness, not only to repay, but even to exceed, the obligation due to his benefactor, notwithstanding his little body, give us the specimen of a great soul, which is never so much delighted as with an opportunity of showing how sensible it is of favour received.


Townsend VersionTownsend version

A lion was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: “If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness.” The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free, exclaimed: “You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favor; I now you know that it is possible for even a Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion.”

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor

Taylor - Lion and Mouse 0141A LION, with the heat oppressed,
One day composed himself to rest;
But whilst he dozed, as he intended,
A mouse his royal back ascended;
Nor thought of harm, as Aesop tells,
Mistaking him for something else,
And travell’d over him, and round him,
And might have left him as he found him,
Had he not,—tremble when you hear,
Tried to explore the monarch’s ear!
Who straightway woke with wrath immense,
And shook his head to cast him thence.
“You rascal, what are you about,”
Said he, when he had turn’d him out.
“I’ll teach you soon,” the lion said,
“To make a mouse-hole in my head!”
So saying, he prepared his foot,
To crush the trembling tiny brute;
But he (the mouse) with tearful eye,
Implored the lion’s clemency,
Who thought it best at last to give
His little pris’ner a reprieve.

‘Twas nearly twelve-months after this,
The lion chanced his way to miss;
When pressing forward, heedless yet,
He got entangled in a net.
With dreadful rage he stampt and tore,
And straight commenced a lordly roar;
When the poor mouse, who heard the noise,
Attended, for she knew his voice.
Then what the lion’s utmost strength
Could not effect, she did at length:
With patient labour she applied
Her teeth, the net-work to divide;
And so at last forth issued he,
A lion, by a mouse set free.

Few are so small, or weak, I guess,
But may assist us in distress;
Nor shall we ever, if we’re wise,
The meanest, or the least, despise.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Lion and Mouse

Ernest Griset (1874)

A Lion, tired with the chase, lay sleeping at full length under a shady tree. Some Mice scrambling over him while he slept, awoke him. Laying his paw upon one of them, he was about to crush him, but the mouse implored his mercy in such moving terms that he let him go. Some time after, the Lion was caught in a net laid by some hunters, and, unable to free himself, made the forest resound with his roars. The mouse whose life had been spared came, and with his little sharp teeth soon gnawed the ropes asunder, and set the Lion free.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

Upon the roaring of a beast in the wood, a mouse ran presently out to see what news: and what was it, but a lion hamper’d in a net! This accident brought to her mind, how that she her self, but some few days before, had fall’n under the paw of a certain generous lion, that let her go again. Upon a strict enquiry into the matter, she found this to be that very lion; and so set her self presently to work upon the couplings of the net, gnaw’d the threds to pieces, and in gratitude deliver’d her preserver.


Without good nature, and gratitude, men had as good live in a wilderness as in a society. There is no subject so inconsiderable, but his Prince, at some time or other, may have occasion for him, and it holds through the whole scale of the creation, that the great and the little have need one of another.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Mouse and Lion

A poor thing the Mouse was, and yet,
When the Lion got caught in a net,
All his strength was no use
‘Twas the poor little Mouse
Who nibbled him out of the net.

Small causes may produce great results.

1001Mus et Leo

Circum leonem dormientem lascive discurrebant musculi, quorum unus in dorsum eius insiluit. Captus autem a leone experrecto excusavit imprudentiam gratiasque se ei habiturum esse pollicitus est, si vitae parceret. Leo, etsi erat ira commotus, ignovit tamen musculo precanti, et tam contemptam bestiolam dimisit incolumem. Paulo post, incautius praedam vestigans leo in laqueos incidit, quibus adstrictus rugitum maximum edidit. Accurrit musculus, cernensque vinculis detentum qui sibi dudum vitam petenti concesserat, arrepsit ad laqueos eosque corrosit. Hoc modo cum leonem periculo liberasset, “Tibi,” inquit, “ludibrio eram, quasi nullum vicissim beneficium praestare possem; nunc scias etiam murem gratias referre posse.”

Perry #150