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Androcles and the Lion

Androcles and the Lion


Long, long ago, there lived a kind, gentle and 
courteous man called Androcles. But he had a very 
cruel master. In those days, kings, nobles, and other 
wealthy men used poor people as their slaves. Androcles 
was a slave. The slaves were forced to work for their 
masters. They had to do what their masters told them. 
They had no freedom, no rights. Even when they were 
unhappy with their master, they could not leave him. 
They were bound by law to obey their master, however 
wicked he might be.
Androcles did not like his heartless, wicked master. 
His master starved his slaves and often whipped them. 
Androcles felt that even death was better than serving 
such a master. He kept looking out for a good 
opportunity. At the first chance he got, he escaped from 
the clutches of his cruel master. 
Now, although Androcles had thus run away, he 
was not a coward. He took shelter in a forest. He was 
not afraid of the wild beasts that roamed the forest. 
He did not mind that he had no roof over his head. 
He was happy that he was free as a bird to go wherever 
he wished.
One day, as he was wandering in the forest, he 
suddenly came face to face with a lion. His first reaction 
was to turn and flee. But then he saw that the lion 
had not moved on seeing him. It neither growled, nor 
roared. In fact, it looked at him piteously as if it was 
in great pain. 
Androcles paused. Then he moved very cautiously 
towards the lion, step by step. The lion moaned and 
whimpered. ‘‘Please help me,’’ its eyes seemed to say.
When Androcles drew near, the lion lowered its 
head and began to lick its paw. Then Androcles saw 
that the lion’s paw was wounded, sore and swollen.
On a closer look, Androcles noticed that a big thorn 
had pierced one of the lion’s toes. ‘So this is the cause 
of the lion’s distress,’ thought Androcles.
Summoning up all the courage, Androcles stretched 
his hand slowly towards the injured paw. He was afraid 
that the lion would attack him if he touched its swollen 
paw. But the lion seemed to understand his good 
intention. 
Androcles took the paw in his left hand. Deftly, 

he pulled out the thorn. Then, tearing a piece of his 
own clothing, the kind man bound up the lion’s injured 
paw. To his surprise and wonder, the lion then licked 
his arm, as if to show gratitude.
Androcles remained with the lion till it could walk 
again. He would hunt in the forest and share his food 
with the helpless beast. Every day, he would clean and 
dress the lion’s wound. Soon, the lion was able to 
move about. Many times, it followed Androcles, 
wherever he went.
In the meanwhile, Androcles’ master had complained 
to the authorities that his slave Androcles had run away. 
Soldiers were sent in all directions to capture Androcles. 
They searched for him high and low but couldn’t find 
him. At last, they came to the forest where Androcles 
lived.
It so happened that Androcles had gone out alone 
that day while the lion rested near the cave. Both of 
them fell into the hands of the soldiers. The soldiers 
took them back to the city. They put Androcles in 
chains in a prison. The lion was caged. 
In those days, people who were found to be guilty 
of a serious crime were fed to wild beasts, as 
punishment. Running away from one’s master was a 
very serious crime at that time. Therefore, Androcles, 
too, was to be thrown to the wild beasts.On the appointed day, the emperor arrived at the 
circus and took his place. The crowds cheered loudly. 
The trumpeters blew the trumpet and Androcles was 
brought into the arena. His chains were unbound. He 
felt weak and dismayed. He was certain that this was 
the last day of his life.
At the opposite end, a gate was raised and a 
ferocious lion was released into the arena. It had been 
kept hungry to make it more ferocious. Androcles was 
filled with fear, but he put up a brave front.

The lion saw Androcles and rushed towards him, 
bounding and roaring. But suddenly it stopped in its 
tracks. Then it moved slowly forward. All its rage 
seemed to have melted. Androcles saw this too. Each 
friend recognized the other.
To everyone’s amazement, the lion bounded towards 
Androcles again, but when it reached him, it began to 
purr and rub its nose against him. Androcles hugged 
the lion. He wept with relief and joy.
The audience, including the emperor, watched this 
tender sight in great wonder. People began to cheer 
Androcles and asked for his release. The emperor asked 
Androcles to explain the lion’s strange behaviour. When 
he heard the whole story, the emperor was also moved 
by the gratitude and friendship between man and beast. 
He ordered that Androcles should be set free. He would 
no longer be a slave.
When the emperor asked Androcles what other 
reward he would like, Androcles replied that he did 
not want anything for himself, but he wanted the lion 
to be set free too.
The two friends went back to the forest to live a 
free life. 


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