Androcles (or Androclus), is a character, who may not have been entirely fictional, in tales that describe him as a slave in the Roman Empire in the early 1st century CE, about the time of Tiberius but possibly in the reign of Caligula.

The classic tale

The earliest surviving version (that of Aulus Gellius) names him, in Latin, as Androclus, a runaway slave of a former Roman consul administering a part of Africa. He takes shelter in a cave, which turns out to be the den of an ailing wounded lion. He removes a large thorn from the animal's foot pad, forces pus from the infected wound, and bandages it. As a result, the lion recovers and becomes tame toward him, acting like a domesticated dog, including wagging its tail and bringing home game that it shares with the slave. After several years, the slave eventually craves a return to civilization, resulting in his imprisonment as a fugitive slave, and condemnation to be devoured by wild animals in the Circus Maximus of Rome. In the presence of an unnamed emperor, the most imposing of these beasts turns out to be the same lion, which again displays its dog-like benevolence toward the slave. The emperor pardons the slave on the spot, in recognition of this testimony to the power of friendship, and he is left in possession of the lion; they are described as being seen walking together through city streets.

The classical literary history

The original version by Apion, who lived from the 20s BC to c. 45 AD, was in his "Aegyptiaca", now lost, but Gellius presents it as saying: Afterwards we used to see Androcles with the lion attached to a slender leash, making the rounds of the tabernae throughout the city; Androcles was given money, the lion was sprinkled with flowers, and everyone who met them anywhere exclaimed: "This is the lion, a man's friend; this is the man, a lion's doctor". [*.html#14]

The detailed narrative above is by Gellius and thus dates from the 2nd century.

The stories attributed to Aesop are regarded as coming from the mid-sixth century BC, and various editions of Aesop that include close versions of the tale, with or without the name "Androcles", are not regarded as evidence of accurate attribution.

Further derivations

Other versions such as "Of the Remembrance of Benefits" in the "Gesta Romanorum" ("Deeds of the Romans") of c. 1330 in England, drop the name and change the setting to a medieval one, e.g. making the slave a knight.

Others keep the Roman setting, but make Androcles a Christian and use him to present theological lessons.

Shaw's play "Androcles and the Lion" eliminates the slave status, and gives Androcles a wife and Christian beliefs, but has a skeptical view of both pagan and Christian belief.

In some children's books and reading textbooks the story of Androcles and the Lion is told, then is accompanied by a more modern and childlike story called "Andy and the Lion", in which the idea is the same, but the protagonist is now a young American boy named Andy who removes a thorn from a lion's paw. Later, at a circus, the lion escapes captivity and the people flee in fear, but then it sees Andy. Remembering that Andy was the little boy who helped him, the lion then sits down quietly and refuses to cause trouble. Andy is then given a medal by the town's mayor for saving the people.



External links

* [ [ Classic accounts]

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  • Androcles — Androclès Androclès fut un esclave romain. On raconte qu ayant été livré aux bêtes dans le Grand cirque de Rome pour s être enfui de chez son maître, proconsul d Afrique, il fut reconnu et épargné par un lion dont il avait guéri une blessure dans …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Androcles — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Androcles fue un rey de Mesenia, asesinado en el 756 a. C. Androcles fue un rey de Mesenia durante el siglo VIII a. C. Se le considera hijo y sucesor del rey Fintas, si bien éste podría… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Androclès — ANDROCLÈS: Citer le lion d Androclès à propos de dompteurs …   Dictionnaire des idées reçues

  • Andrócles — ANDRÓCLES, is, (⇒ Tab. XI.) einer von des Aeolus Söhnen, der einen Theil von Sicilien beherrschete. Diod. Sic. lib. V. c. 8. p. 202 …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Androclès — (Ier s.) esclave romain qui, jeté dans l arène, fut épargné par un lion qu il avait jadis soigné …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Androcles — [an′drəkləsan′drə klēz΄] n. [L < Gr Androklēs] Rom. Legend a slave who escapes death when thrown into the arena with a lion because the lion recognizes him as the man who once extracted a thorn from its foot: also Androclus [an′drəkləs] …   English World dictionary

  • Androclès — fut un esclave romain. On raconte qu ayant été livré aux bêtes dans le Grand cirque de Rome pour s être enfui de chez son maître, proconsul d Afrique, il fut reconnu et épargné par u …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Androcles — /an dreuh kleez /, n. Rom. Legend. a slave who was spared in the arena by a lion from whose foot he had long before extracted a thorn. Also, Androclus /an dreuh kleuhs/. * * * ▪ Roman legendary figure also spelled  Androclus,         Roman slave… …   Universalium

  • ANDROCLES — I. ANDROCLES fil. Phintae, Messeniorum Rex cum fratre Antiocho, praefuit: successore Euphae. Pausan. l. 4. Item Ioviae Rex qui Ephesum exornavit. l. 7. II. ANDROCLES fuit servus et mendicus et cinaedus; ut Cratinus eum notat in σερίφοις… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Androcles — n. legendary Roman slave who was forced to fight a lion but was saved by the lion that recognized and remembered Androcles as the one who in the past removed a thorn from its paw …   English contemporary dictionary

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