According to legend, Androcles was a Roman slave who lived in Africa in the first century A . D . After escaping from his cruel master, Androcles hid in a cave. While there, a lion with a thorn stuck in its paw entered the cave. The lion showed its swollen paw to Androcles, who carefully removed the thorn and befriended the animal.

Some years later, Androcles was captured and thrown into an arena to be killed by lions. One of the lions, however, was the same animal that Androcles had helped in the cave. The lion recognized Androcles and refused to hurt him. The animal even protected Androcles from the other wild beasts. When the spectators in the arena saw what was happening, they demanded that Androcles be set free.

The legend of Androcles appeared in Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights), a story by Roman author Aulus Gellius written around A . D . 150. Much later, the legend became the inspiration for the play Androcles and the Lion, written by Irish author George Bernard Shaw in 1912.

See also Animals in Mythology .

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