Posts filed under ‘Gesta Romanorum’

Of the Remembrance of Benefits

Gesta Romanorum

There was a knight who devoted much of his time to hunting. It happened one day, as he was pursuing this diversion, that he was met by a lame lion, who showed him his foot. The knight dismounted, and drew from it a sharp thorn; and then applied an unguent to the wound, which speedily healed it.

A while after this, the king of the country hunted in the same wood, and caught that lion, and held him captive for many years.

Now, the knight, having offended the king, fled from his anger to the very forest in which he had been accustomed to hunt. There he betook himself to plunder, and spoiled and slew a multitude of travelers. But the king’s sufferance was exhausted; he sent out an army, captured, and condemned him to be delivered to a fasting lion. The knight was accordingly thrown into a pit, and remained in terrified expectation of the hour when he should be devoured. But the lion, considering him attentively, and remembering his former friend, fawned upon him; and remained seven days with him destitute of food.

When this reached the ears of the king, he was struck with wonder, and directed the knight to be taken from the pit. “Friend,” said he, “by what means have you been able to render the lion harmless?”

“As I once rode along the forest, my lord, that lion met me lame. I extracted from his foot a large thorn, and afterward healed the wound, and therefore he has spared me.”

“Well,” returned the king, “since the lion has spared you, I will for this time ratify your pardon. Study to amend your life.”

The knight gave thanks to the king, and ever afterwards conducted himself with all propriety. He lived to a good old age, and ended his days in peace.

  • Source: Gesta Romanorum, translated by Charles Swan (London: George Bell and Sons, 1877), no. 104, pp. 180-181.
  • The Gesta Romanorum or “Deeds of the Romans” is a collection of some 283 legends and fables. Created as a collection ca. 1330 in England, it served as a source of stories and plots for many of Europe’s greatest writers.

June 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment