Circa 600 BC
The Sick Lion
A Lion had come to the end of his days and lay sick unto death at the mouth of his cave, gasping for breath. The animals, his subjects, came round him and drew nearer as he grew more and more helpless. When they saw him on the point of death they thought to themselves: ‘Now is the time to pay off old grudges.’ So the Boar came up and drove at him with his tusks; then a Bull gored him with his horns; still the Lion lay helpless before them: so the Ass, feeling quite safe from danger, came up, and turning his tail to the Lion kicked up his heels into his face. ‘This is a double death,’ growled the Lion.
Only cowards insult dying majesty.
The Ass and the Lapdog
A Farmer one day came to the stables to see to his beasts of burden: among them was his favourite Ass, that was always well fed and often carried his master. With the Farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about and licked his hand and frisked about as happy as could be. The Farmer felt in his pocket, gave the Lapdog some dainty food, and sat down while he gave his orders to his servants. The Lapdog jumped into his master’s lap, and lay there blinking while the Farmer stroked his ears. The Ass, seeing this, broke loose from his halter and commenced prancing about in imitation of the Lapdog. The Farmer could not hold his sides with laughter, so the Ass went up to him, and putting his feet upon the Farmer’s shoulder attempted to climb into his lap. The Farmer’s servants rushed up with sticks and pitchforks and soon taught the Ass that clumsy jesting is no joke.
The Lion and the Mouse
Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. ‘Pardon, O King,’ cried the little Mouse: ‘forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days …