The Lion in Love (fable)  

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The Lion in Love is a cautionary tale of Greek origin which was counted among Aesop's Fables and is numbered 140 in the Perry Index. Its present title is a translation of the one given by Jean de la Fontaine after he retold it in his fables. Since then it has been treated frequently by artists. It has also acquired idiomatic force and as such has been used as the title of several literary works.

The fable and its interpretation

A lion falls in love with a peasant's daughter and asks the father's permission to marry her. Unwilling to refuse outright, the man sets the condition that the animal should first have its claws clipped and its teeth filed. When the lion complies, the man clubs it to death, or in milder accounts simply drives it away, since it now can no longer defend itself.

Though the story was included in early collections of Aesop's fables, including those of Babrius and Aphthonius of Antioch, its earliest relation is as part of a war leader's speech in the 1st century BCE Bibliotheca historica of Diodorus Siculus, where it is described without ascription as an "old story". Significantly, the fable is interpreted there as a warning against ever letting down one's guard where an enemy is concerned and Aphthonius too comments that "If you follow the advice of your enemies, you will run into danger".

By the time the fable reappeared in Europe after the Renaissance it was being reinterpreted as a caution against being led astray by passion. The Neo-Latin poem Leo procus of Hieronymus Osius ends with the reflection "By love the cleverest, sometimes, / are led astray, the strongest tamed". A century later, Francis Barlow's illustration of what he titles Leo Amatorius is summed up in the couplet "Love asailes with powerfull charmes, / and both our Prudence and our strength disarmes". La Fontaine titled his poem Le lion amoureux and ended with the sentiment "O love, O love, mastered by you, / prudence we well may bid adieu" (IV.1).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Lion in Love (fable)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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