The Lion and Androcles
Lions and humans can be very good friends, as appears from a story told by Aesop about a lion and the Roman slave Androcles.
The lion had a big thorn in his paw, that was swollen and bleeding. One day he met Androcles, a Roman slave who escaped from his cruel master and fled to the forest. At first Androcles was frightened and ran away. But the lion did not pursue him. Because of that Androcles turned back, came near the lion and saw the paw and the thorn causing the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw. The lion was soon able to rise and licked the hand of the man like dogs do. He took Androcles to his cave and brought him meat every day.
Afterwards both Androcles and the lion were captured. The slave was sentenced to be thrown to the lion. The Romans kept the lion without food for many days to make him hungry. On the day of the execution the emperor and his court came to the arena to see the spectacle. First Androcles was brought into the arena. Then the lion was let loose and he rushed towards his victim. But he recognized his old friend, and once more behaved like a friendly dog, fawning and licking his hands.
The emperor was very surprised when he saw this and asked Androcles what was happening. Androcles told the whole story, whereupon the emperor pardoned and freed the slave. The lion was brought back to his native forest.
This is only one of several fables about lions by Aesop.