THE Lion and the Fox went hunting together. The Lion, on the advice of the Fox, sent a message to the Ass, proposing to make an alliance between their two families. The Ass came to the place of meeting, overjoyed at the prospect of a royal alliance. But when he came there the Lion simply pounced on the Ass, and said to the Fox: “Here is our dinner for to-day. Watch you here while I go and have a nap. Woe betide you if you touch my prey.” The Lion went away and the Fox waited; but finding that his master did not return, ventured to take out the brains of the Ass and ate them up. When the Lion came back he soon noticed the absence of the brains, and asked the Fox in a terrible voice: “What have you done with the brains?”
“Brains, your Majesty! it had none, or it would never have fallen into your trap.”
Wit has always an answer ready.
Babrius 95, told of the Lion and Bear. Certainly Indian, where it occurs in the Panchatantra, iv. 2, except that an Ass occurs instead of a Deer. From India the fable got to Judæa, where it is found in the Rabbinic Commentary on Exodus, here again the animal is an Ass. In both Indian and Greek original the animal loses its heart, which is regarded by the Ancients as the seat of intelligence. I have had to change the missing organ in order to preserve the pun which makes up most of the point of the story. The tale is however of very great critical importance in the history of the fable, and I have inserted it mainly for that reason. Mr. G. C. Keibel has studied the genealogy of the various versions in a recent article in Zeits. für vergleich. Literaturgeschichte, 1894, p. 264 seq.
Perry 336 & Perry 583
Ass’s Brains, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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ATU 52: The Donkey without a Heart