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Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)

Perry 339 (Phaedrus 1.5)

An alliance made with the high and mighty can never be trusted. This little fable proves my point.
A cow and a she-goat and a long-suffering sheep decided to become the lion's companions. They went into the forest together and there they caught an extremely large stag which they divided into four portions. Then the lion said, 'I claim the first portion by right of my title, since I am called the king; the second portion you will give me as your partner; then, because I am strongest, the third portion is mine ... and woe betide anyone who dares to touch the fourth!' In this way the wicked lion carried off all the spoils for himself.

Note: Sir Roger L'Estrange appends this apt proverb: 'He that has the Staff in his Hand will be his own Carver.' In Greek versions of this fable (e.g., Chambry 207), the alliance is between a lion and an onager. For another story about the 'lion's share,' see Fable 15 (following).

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.