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Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

3.20. Of the fallace of the lyon / And of his conuersacion
(Perry 514)

To conuerse with folke of euylle lyf is a thyng moche peryllous / And only to speke with them letteth moch other / As this fable reherceth of a lyon ryght strong and ryght myghty / the whiche made hym self kynge for to haue grete renommee and glorye / And fro thenne forthon he beganne to chaunge his condycions and customme shewyng hym self curtois / and swore that he shold hurte no bestes / but shold kepe them ageynst euery one / And of this promesse he repented hym by cause hit is moche dyffycyle and hard to chaunge his owne kynd / And therfore whanne he was angry / he lad with hym somme smalle beestes in to a secrete place for to ete and deceyue them / And demaunded of them / yf his mouthe stanke or not / And they that sayd that it stanke or not were al saued / And alle they the whiche ansuerd not he kylled / & deuoured them al / It happed that he demaunded of the Ape / yf his mouthe stanke or not / And thape sayd no but that hit smelleth lyke bame / And thenne the lyon had shame to slee the ape / but he fond a grete falsheed for to put hym to dethe / He fayned to be seke and commaunded that al his leches & Cyrurgyens shold anone come vnto hym / whan they were come / he commaunded them to loke hys vryne / And whan they had sene hit / they sayd to hym / Syre ye shalle soone be hole / but ye must ete lyght metes / And by cause that ye be kynge / alle is at your commaundement / And the lyon ansuerd Allas Ryght fayne I wold ete of an Ape / Certaynly sayd the medecyn that same is good mete / Thenne was the Ape sente for And not withstondyng that he worshipfully spak & ansuerd to the kynge / the kynge made hym to deye / and deuoured hym
Therfore hit is peryllous and harmeful to be in the felauship of a Tyraunt / For be hit euylle or good he wylle ete and deuoure euery thynge / And wel happy is he / that may escape fro his blody handes / And that may eschewe and flee the felauship of the euyll tyraunts

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.