Sunday, January 7, 2018

M0022: Leo, Vulpes, et Simius

M0021 - M0022 - M0023

22. Leo, Vulpes, et Simius. Leo, animalium imperio potitus, ea animalia quae honore caudae carerent exsulare e finibus regni sui iusserat. Vulpes pavefacta iam vasa colligebat, ire in exilium parans. Cui cum diceret simius, ad regis imperata iam solum vertens, edictum ad illam non pertinere, quae tantum caudae haberet ut superforet, “Verum dicis,” inquit illa, “et recte admones. Sed quo scio an me leo vel primam numerare velit inter illa quae cauda carent?” Qui vita sub tyranno agenda contigit, insons licet sit, saepe ut nocens plectitur.

Image Source: Wild Animals.

M0022 (not in Perry). Source: Faernus 97 (adapted into prose). This fable is not in Perry’s catalog, although it shares a core motif with the traditional story of the fox’s tail and the tail-less monkey, see #114. Compare also the fable about the tyranny of the eagle, #547.

22. Lion, Fox, and Monkey. The Lion, having gained power over the animals, had ordered that those animals who lacked the dignity of a tail would go into exile beyond the boundaries of his kingdom. The fox, terrified, gathered up her possessions, preparing to go into exile. The monkey, already leaving the country in obedience to the royal decree, said that the edict did not apply to her, since she had such a great tail, and then some, but the fox replied, "You speak truly, and your advice is good. But how do I know whether or not the lion would decide to number me first of all among those who lack a tail?" He whose life must be lived under a tyrant, even if innocent, often suffers punishment as if guilty.


  1. This would make more sense if the fox said ' how do I know if the lion would count me first to be eaten among those animals who have a tail.' Just as those who are tolerated in a dictatorship may suffer from an arbitrary rule change.

  2. Sed quo scio an me leo vel primam numerare velit inter illa quae cauda carent?

    To me it would make more sense if the fox feared being the first of those who had escaped proscription before, ie those who had tails. Thus dictatorships often work.

  3. Ha! Sad to say this fable does indeed resonate much too closely with our own president right now... and Faernus is another wonderful Renaissance writer; you might enjoy reading his fables as verse to see what you think! Reading Faernus was one of my favorite parts of putting this book together years ago: FAERNUS (at Google Books).

  4. Except you still have independent institutions to hold the lion in check. Besides Trump would love to be a lion. If I were a fabulist I would find it difficult to find the right animal. Perhaps a highly territorial loud screeching flight less bird?