Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
ANDROCLUS AND THE LION
IN Rome there was once a poor slave whose name was
Androclus. His master was a cruel man, and so unkind to
him that at last Androclus ran away.
He hid himself in a wild wood for many days; but there was
no food to be found, and he grew so weak and sick that he
thought he should die. So one day he crept into a cave and
lay down, and soon he was fast asleep.
After awhile a great noise woke him up. A lion had come
into the cave, and was roaring loudly.
 Androclus was very much afraid, for he felt sure that the
beast would kill him. Soon, however, he saw that the lion
was not angry, but that he limped as though his foot hurt
Then Androclus grew so bold that he took hold of the lion's
lame paw to see what was the matter. The lion stood quite
still, and rubbed his head against the man's shoulder. He
seemed to say,—
"I know that you will help me."
Androclus lifted the paw from the ground, and saw that it
was a long, sharp thorn which hurt the lion so much. He took
the end of the thorn in his fingers; then he gave a strong,
quick pull, and out it came. The lion was full of joy. He
jumped about like a dog, and licked the hands and feet of
his new friend.
Androclus was not at all afraid after this; and when night
came, he and the lion lay down and slept side by side.
For a long time, the lion brought food to Androclus every
day; and the two became such good friends, that Androclus
found his new life a very happy one.
One day some soldiers who were passing through the wood
found Androclus in the cave. They knew who he was, and so
took him back to Rome.
 It was the law at that time that every slave who ran
away from his master should be made to fight a hungry lion.
So a fierce lion was shut up for a while without food, and
a time was set for the fight.
When the day came, thousands of people crowded to see the
sport. They went to such places at that time very much
as people now-a-days, go to see a circus show or a game of
The door opened, and poor Androclus was brought in. He was
almost dead with fear, for the roars of the lion could
already be heard. He looked up, and saw that there was no
pity in the thousands of faces around him.
Then the hungry lion rushed in. With a single bound he
reached the poor slave. Androclus gave a great cry, not
of fear, but of gladness. It was his old friend, the lion
of the cave.
The people, who had expected to see the man killed by
the lion, were filled with wonder. They saw Androclus put
his arms around the lion's neck; they saw the lion lie down
at his feet, and lick them lovingly; they saw the great
beast rub his head against the slave's face as though he
wanted to be petted. They could not understand what it all meant.
After a while they asked Androclus to tell them
 about it. So he stood up before them, and, with his arm
around the lion's neck, told how he and the beast had lived
together in the cave.
Androclus and the Lion
"I am a man," he said; "but no man has ever befriended
me. This poor lion alone has been kind to me; and we love
each other as brothers."
The people were not so bad that they could be cruel to the
poor slave now. "Live and be free!"
they cried. "Live and be free!"
Others cried, "Let the lion go free too! Give both of them
And so Androclus was set free, and the lion was given to him
for his own. And they lived together in Rome for many years.