The Tale of the Lion Cub

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 717-736

“A man raised a lion cub in his house. The cub was motherless but needed the teat. When young, it was gentle; it liked children a lot; and it charmed the old folks. The cub was often in the man’s arms, a normal thing for a baby of nursing age. It would set its bright eyes on the man’s hand and beg for its belly’s necessities.

In time, however, the animal exhibited its parents’ character. That is to say, in return for the household’s kindness, it prepared a feast no one had asked for by slaughtering the sheep with frenzy. The house was splattered with blood. The destruction was enormous and violent. A god is to blame for a minister of Disaster having been raised in the house.”

ἔθρεψεν δὲ λέοντος ἶ-
νιν δόμοις ἀγάλακτον οὕ-
τως ἀνὴρ φιλόμαστον,
ἐν βιότου προτελείοις
ἅμερον, εὐφιλόπαιδα,
καὶ γεραροῖς ἐπίχαρτον.
πολέα δ ἔσκ ἐν ἀγκάλαις
νεοτρόφου τέκνου δίκαν,
φαιδρωπὸς ποτὶ χεῖρα σαί-
νων τε γαστρὸς ἀνάγκαις.

χρονισθεὶς δʼ ἀπέδειξεν ἦ-
θος τὸ πρὸς τοκέων: χάριν
γὰρ τροφεῦσιν ἀμείβων
μηλοφόνοισι σὺν ἄταις
δαῖτ ἀκέλευστος ἔτευξεν:
αἵματι δʼ οἶκος ἐφύρθη,
ἄμαχον ἄλγος οἰκέταις,
μέγα σίνος πολύκτονον:
ἐκ θεοῦ δʼ ἱερεύς τις Ἄ-
τας δόμοις προσεθρέφθη.

color photograph of a boxer sparring with an adult tiger
Just a boxer in his undies playing with
his tiger.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

Leave a Reply