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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

5.16. Of the man / of the lyon & of his sone
(Perry 706)

He that reffuseth the good doctryne of his fader / yf euyl happe cometh to hym / it is but ryght / As to vs reherceth this fable of a labourer / which somtyme lyued in a deserte of his cultyuynge and laboure / In this deserte was a lyon / whiche wasted and destroyed all the sede / whiche euery daye the sayd labourer sewed / and also this lyon destroyed his trees / And by cause that he bare and dyd to hym so grete harm and dommage / he made an hedge / to the whiche he putte and sette cordes and nettes for to take the lyon / And ones as this lyon came for to ete corne / he entryd within a nette / & was taken / And thenne the good man came thyder / and bete and smote hym so wonderly / that vnnethe he myght scape fro deth / And by cause that the lyon sawe that he myght not escape the subtylyte of the man / he took his lytyl lyon / and went to dwelle in another Regyon / And within a lytel whyle after that the lyon was wel growen and was fyers & stronge he demaunded of his fader / My fader be we of this Regyon / Nay sayd the fader / For we ben fledde awey fro oure land / And thenne the lytyl lyon asked / wherfore / And the fader ansuerd to hym / For the subtylyte of the man / And the lytyl lyon demaunded of hym what man is that / And his fader sayd to hym / he is not soo grete ne so stronge as we be / but he is more subtyle and more Ingenyous / than we be / And thenne sayd the sone to the fader / I shall goo auenge me on hym And the grete lyon sayd to hym / goo not / For yf thow gost thyder thow shalt repente the therfore / and shalt doo lyke a fole And the sone ansuerd to his fader / Ha by my heed I shalle goo thyder / and shalle see what he can doo / And as he wente for to fynder the man / he mette an oxe within a medowe / and an hors whos back was al fleyen / and sore to whome he said in this manere / who is he that hath ledde yow hyder / and that so hath hurted yow / And they sayd to hym / It is the man / And thenne he sayd ageyne to them / Certaynly / here is a wonder thynge / I praye yow / that ye wylle shewe hym to me And they wente and shewed to hym the labourer / which ered the erthe / And the lyon forthwith and withoute saynge of ony moo wordes wente toward the man / to whome he sayd in this maner / Ha man thow hast done ouer many euyls / bothe to me and to my Fader / and in lyke wyse to oure beestes / wherfore I telle the that to me thow wylt doo Iustyce / And the man ansuerd to hym / I promytte and warne the / that yf thow come nyghe me I shalle slee the / And the lyon sayd to hym / Come thenne before my fader / and he as kynge shalle doo to vs good Iustyce / And thenne the man sayd to the lyon / I am content / yf that thow wylt swere to me / that thow shalt not touche me / tyll that we ben in the presence of thy fader / And in lyke wyse I shalle swere to the / that I shal go with the vnto the presence of thy fader / And thus the lyon and the man swered eche one to other / and wente toward the grete lyon / and the man beganne to goo by the way where as his cordes and nettes were dressyd / And as they wente / the lyon lete hym self falle within a corde / and by the feet he was take / so that he myght not ferther goo / And by cause he coude not goo he sayd to the man / O man I praye the that thow wilt helpe me / For I maye no more goo / And the man answerd to hym / I am sworne to the that I shalle not touche the vnto the tyme that we ben before thy fader / And as the lyon supposed to haue vnbound hym self for to scape / he fylle in to another nette And thenne the lyon beganne to crye after the man / sayenge to hym in this manere / O good man I praye the that thou wilt vnbynde me / And the man beganne to smyte hym vpon the hede / And thenne whanne the lyon sawe that he myght not scape / he sayd to the man / I praye the / that thow smyte me no more vpon the heed / but vpon myn ers / by cause that I wold not here the good counceylle of my fader / And thenne the man beganne to smyte hym at the herte and slewe hym /
The whiche thyng happeth ofte to many children which ben hanged or by other maner executed and put to dethe / by cause that they wil not byleue the doctryne of theyr faders and moders / ne obeye to them by no wyse


Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.