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Useful weblinks: The Lion's Share

  • The ‘lion’s share’ has become a colloquial English saying to mean the largest portion.

  • Some people thought that Aesop meant the fable to spread the message that ‘You may share the labours of the great, but you may not share the spoil’, highlighting the disparity in autocratic societies.

  • Others have interpreted the moral as ‘Partnership with the mighty is never trustworthy’. This is similar in its reflection on the differences between the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, but is even more cynical – no partnership with a superior is advisable! Ask students what they think the moral of the tale is.

  • There are many pictures of the fable, which can provide a good visual aid. Check out some of the best examples below:

    • Milo Winter (1886-1956) illustrated many of Aesop’s fables. In the illustration of this fable, the donkey seems to have been replaced by a wolf.
    • Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) also illustrated several of Aesop’s fables. The lion in this illustration looks very happy. The fox is also smiling (although it does look rather forced!). Presumably the bones in the foreground of the picture are meant to be the donkey.
    • Following a slightly different version of the fable, this illustration from Francis Barlow’s edition of Aesop’s fables (1687) has the lion claiming outright all the shares of a hunt because of his strength and power.
    • Samuel Croxall (c.1690 – 1752) also created an illustration for this fable.