"Memento te esse leonem"

Luigi Spina


Beginning from the relationship between the voices of the lion and the ass, the author draws on the work of four Italian writers – the Humanists Adriano Banchieri and Giovan Battista Pino, and the modernists Italo Calvino and Gianni Clerici – in conducting an anthropological (and not merely philological) reading of Greek and Latin texts that recount the tale of "the lion saved by a man", better known as Androclus and the Lion or "Thorn removed from lion's paw" (Aarne-Thompson-Uther nr. 156 ). The anonymous life of St. Jerome (not to mention of St. Sabas of Palestine and St. Gerasimus), entitled "Plerosque nimirum", tells of a similar miracle that is well known also from a rich tradition of iconography. Finally, in 1913, George Bernard Shaw wrote "an old fable renovated", "Androcles and the Lion", about a Christian tailor, Androcles, who danced in the Amphitheatre with his grateful lion.

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