Androcles and the Lion

Sometimes stories that are kind of old and maybe feeling a little worn out are still worth dusting off and looking over one more time – maybe even a couple more times. This story reminds me of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote that we should do at least one thing that frightens us every day. It also reminds me of the Good Samaritan Story (but that is a story for another day). And it also reminds me of the practice of paying it forward. But then it is really just a story about being kind. Or is it?

Once upon a time, it a land all too near to us, there was a slave named Androcles. One day Androcles managed to escape from his master. After Androcles made his way outside the master’s compound he fled into the forest. As he was wandering among the trees looking for a safe place to make a home for himself, he came upon a Lion who was lying under a lotus tree moaning and groaning.

When Androcles saw the lion he was about as scared as he had ever been. At first he turned to run for his life, but he notice that the Lion was not moving to chase him, so he turned back and went a little closer to the lion. When Androcles got closer the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing the lion’s foot to swell and become so painful. Androcles took a deep breath, moved closer to the lion and ever so carefully, ever so gently he pulled out the thorn and bound up the lion’s paw.  After a day or so the lion was able to walk on his paw again, and he then licked Androcles’ hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion took Androcles to his cave which they then shared.  When the lion had a successful hunt he would bring some of the meat back to the cave for Androcles to cook for himself.

But as we all know, life has both hills and valleys and all too soon the master’s soldiers found Androcles and they captured both him and the lion.

The master was angry with Androcles for escaping, and he wanted to make an example of him to the other slaves so that they would not attempt escaping, so Androcles was sentenced to be thrown into a pit with the lion, after the lion had been kept without food for several days. The master and all his court and all of the slave came to see the spectacle.

Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. The hungry lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his soon to be meal. But as soon as the lion came near to Androcles he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The master was stunned and ordered that Androcles be brought to him. Androcles told the master the whole story. The master’s heart softened when he heard about the relationship that had grown between his slave and the lion.  As he thought about Androcles act of bravery and kindness, and the lion’s response of appreciation, the master gave Androcles and the lion their freedom. Both of them were returned to the forest to live their lives in peace.