A tale of Lion, Fox, and Donkey in a forest – A tale from RUMI

A tale of Lion, Fox, and Donkey in a forest – A tale from RUMI

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are given human qualities, such as the ability to speak human language and that illustrates or leads to a particular “moral” lesson, which may at the end be added explicitly as a concise and full of meaning the expression of a general truth.
A fable differs from a parable in that the latter excludes animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as actors that assume speech or other powers of humankind.

Cultural representation of the lion, fox, and donkey

The fox appears in the folklore of many cultures as a figure of cunning or trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers. The fox is also sometimes associated with transformation. In Europe, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, foxes, which were associated with wiliness and fraudulent behavior, were sometimes burned as symbols of the Devil.

Donkeys were represented in a fairly negative in the folklore of some cultures such as the Greeks and Persians. Donkeys were found in the works of Homer, Aesop, and Apuleius, where they were generally portrayed as stupid, a fool, and stubborn or servile at best, and generally represented the lower class.

Lions, particularly male lions, have been an important symbol for thousands of years and appear as a theme in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Lions enjoy positive depiction in popular culture as creatures that appear strong, but gentle at the same time. The most consistent depiction is in keeping with their image of “king of the jungle” or “king of the beasts“, hence lions are popular symbols of royalty and stateliness and a symbol of bravery.

A tale of lion, fox, and donkey in a forest

    Once upon a time, the lion was the ruler of the forest, and a fox was his senior adviser, and the donkey was the representative of the animals in the ruling machine.

Despite the tyranny of the lion (the ruler) and the confirmation of the donkey and guile, misrepresentation and fake of the fox, all the animals abandoned the forest and escaped, until the ruler, the representative, and his counsel decided to go as well.

On the way to a new place, the donkey which was a vegetarian animal could find something occasionally to eat and stay full, but the fox and the lion who were flesh-eating animals, had not found anything to eat for days, therefore, they were very hungry.  After a few days of starvation the fox, who was starving to death, told the lion if we did not think that you and I would die of hunger and only the donkey survives because he is vegetarian. The lion asked the fox what he had in his mind.

A tale of lion fox and donkey in a forest


The fox said, call the donkey and say we need a leader to continue the path. And we have to choose one from the genealogy and follow its instructions. Definitely, you would be selected, and then command to kill the donkey and eat. The lion accepted and called the donkey and formed the meeting, first read his pedigree and said that his grandfather was the ruler and the king, and then the fox, confirming the statement, said, “my ancestors had been serving the kings from a long time ago as well”.

read his pedigree and said that his grandfather was the ruler and the king


The donkey which was very suspicious was thinking that those two were engineering an evil plan for him, said: “I’m not literate, my family tree has been written on my horseshoe any one of you who learned to read, can take a look at my horseshoe to read it”.  The lion responded instantly said that I was literate and went back to the donkey to read the donkey’s family-tree on his horseshoe. The donkey instantly tapped a tightly-fitted kick to his mouth and broke his neck and killed the lion instantly.

I'm not literate my family tree has been written on my horseshoe

The fox saw how the donkey killed the lion turned around and started running away. The donkey called the fox and said Come; now that the lion was dead we could walk the rest together. The fox said no, I have a very important task to do. The donkey asked the fox “what is that important task you have to rush to do it?” The fox said that I wanted to go back home and find my father’s grave and look around him seven times and visit him to pilgrimage to thank him that he did not send me to school so I could be literate, or else now Instead of the lion, I was killed.

donkey instantly tapped a tightly-fitted kick and killed the lion instantly


Explanation of the text, “Literates are more likely to be kicked by fools”

Tales from Jalal al-Din Rumi

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