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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of eternal Condemnation




Barlaam says, that a sinner is like a man, who being afraid of a unicorn, stepped backward into a deep pit. But when he had fallen he laid hold of the branch of a tree, and drew himself up. Looking below, he espied at the foot of the tree by which he had ascended a very black well, and a horrible dragon encompassing it. The dragon appeared to expect his fall with extended jaws. Now the tree stood as between two walls, of which one was white and the other black, and was incessantly gnawed at the roots by the dragon, who hoped to overthrow it. There were also four white vipers at its foot, which filled the whole pit with their pestilential breath. Lifting up his eyes, the man beheld honey dropping from a bough of the tree; and wholly forgetful of his danger, he gave himself up to the fatal sweetness. A friend passing by with a ladder, would have raised him entirely out, but overcome by the allurement, he clung to the tree, which fell, and cast him into the jaws of the dragon. The monster immediately descending in the lowest pit, there devoured him. He thus died a miserable death. (97)


My beloved, man is that sinner; and the unicorn is death. The pit is the world; the tree is life, on either side of which stands a wall. The post which the vipers occupied is the human frame; the dragon is the devil, and the lower pit is hell. The honied bough is the pleasures of sin; the friend, any Christian preacher; and the ladder is penitence.



Note 97.Page 342.

"This is another of Barlaam's Apologues in Damascenus's romance of Barlaam and Josaphat: and which has been adopted into the Lives of the Saints, by Surius and others. A moralization is subjoined, exactly agreeing with that in the Gesta."—Warton.