Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
466. THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE LION
Perry 363 (Babrius
There was a timid old man who had an only child, a son, who was generally
high-spirited and who wanted to go hunting. In a dream the father saw
his son lying dead, killed by a lion. Afraid that this might really happen
and that the dream might actually come true, he built a house for the
men of the family, and it was an extremely beautiful house, with high
ceilings and sturdy walls and full of sunlight. He then enclosed his son
inside this house, locked away under guard. To keep his son from becoming
sad, he had the walls decorated with pictures of various animals, and
among all these animals there was a painted lion. Staring at the lion,
the boy felt even more sad, and he eventually approached the lion and
said, 'O you wicked animal, because you showed that lying dream to my
father's eyes you are able to keep me prisoner here, watched by guards
as if I were a woman. But why do I attack you only with words, and not
with an act of violence as well?' The boy then dashed his hands against
the lion, intending to scratch its eyes out, but instead a sliver of wood
came off and stabbed him under his fingernail. This soon brought about
a burning inflammation of the flesh, and although the desperate father
did everything he could, it was all to no avail. The infection spread
until it reached the boy's groin, and thus brought his life to an end.
The old man was unable to save his child, who had been destined to die
because of a lion who was not even alive.
You must bravely endure the things that are prepared for you, not trying
to outwit what lies ahead. You will not be able to escape that which must
Note: For a fable which explains the difference between true and false
dreams, see Fable 529.
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.