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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Aesop's Fables 1: The Lion and the Mouse


Who is stronger, a lion or a mouse? Is there any way a mouse could be "stronger"?


A Lion was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up in anger, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness." The Lion laughed and let him go.

It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by strong ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came up and gnawed the rope with his teeth, and setting him free, exclaimed: "You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, not expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favor; but now you know that it is possible for even a Mouse to confer benefits on a Lion."


1. To "spare someone's life" means to let them live, when you have the power to kill them.
2. "bound" is the past tense of "bind," meaning "to tie." bind, bound, have/has bound


Answer these questions about the story in complete sentences:

1. What woke up the Lion, and how?
2. What did the Mouse tell the Lion (in your own words)?
3. Who caught the Lion? What did the do with him?
4. How did the Mouse know the Lion needed help?
5. What does the Mouse tell the Lion?


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. piteously: in a way that makes you feel sorry for him
b. to entreat: to beg, to ask for something
c. to gnaw: to chew, especially slowly and for a long time
d. to exclaim: to call out excitedly
e. to ridicule: to make fun of
f. repayment: the act of giving back of something that is owed
g. to confer: to give, in a formal way
h. benefit: something good, something that helps someone

Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. It's not nice to __________ people less fortunate than you.
2. "Oh, the flowers are beautiful!" she __________.
3. When he graduated, the university __________ special honors on the hard-working student.
4. "Please, don't take away my bike," the boy begged his father __________.
5. The bank took away the house because the owner didn't __________ the loan.
6. There are many __________ to eating healthy food.
7. The new mother __________ the hospital to take good care of her baby.
8. Babies often enjoy __________ on something when new teeth are coming in.


There are no "right" answers. Give your own opinion. If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why do you think the Lion spared the Mouse's life?
2. Do you believe that the weak can sometimes be helpful to the strong?
3. Think of a real-life story about something like this that has happened in your life.


Remember, there may be more than one way to express your answer.

1. The Mouse woke up the Lion by running across his face.
2. The Mouse told the Lion that if the Lion didn't kill him, the Mouse could help him someday.
3. Some hunters caught the Lion and tied him up.
4. The Mouse heard the Lion roaring.
5. The Mouse tells the Lion that even a mouse can help a lion; that is, a weaker person can help a stronger.


1. ridicule; 2. exclaimed; 3. conferred; 4. piteously; 5. repay; 6. benefits; 7. entreated; 8. gnawing

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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