THE Lion once gave out that he was sick unto death and summoned the animals to come and hear his last Will and Testament. So the Goat came to the Lion’s cave, and stopped there listening for a long time. Then a Sheep went in, and before she came out a Calf came up to receive the last wishes of the Lord of the Beasts. But soon the Lion seemed to recover, and came to the mouth of his cave, and saw the Fox, who had been waiting outside for some time. “Why do you not come to pay your respects to me?” said the Lion to the Fox.
“I beg your Majesty’s pardon,” said the Fox, “but I noticed the track of the animals that have already come to you; and while I see many hoof-marks going in, I see none coming out. Till the animals that have entered your cave come out again I prefer to remain in the open air.”
It is easier to get into the enemy’s toils than out again.
Referred to by Plato, Alcib. i. 503; also by Horace, Epist. I. i. 73 (Nulla vestigia retrorsum). It comes to us from the medieval prose Phædrus. Probably Indian, as it occurs in the Panchatantra, iii. 14. Also in the Tutinameh, ii. 125.
Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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ATU 50A: The Fox Sees All Tracks Going into Lion's Den but None Coming Out