THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
to their last foot-hold in Europe by the hunter and the husbandman. The exact date of the killing of the last lion is uncertain; but from the melancholy passage of Dio Chrysostom Rhetor (Oratio 21)—"the honorable have vanished away in the course of time, as they say the lions have done which formerly dwelt in Europe"—it must have happened before the close of the first century after Christ.
Sir G. C. Lewis, to whose papers in "Notes and Queries" we are indebted for many references used in this essay, points out that the mythology of Italy contains no allusion to the lion, while that of Greece extends the range of the lion into Peloponnese, and to the west of the Achelöus, or, in other words, proves that the lion had a wider range in Southern Europe before the time of Herodotus than it had afterward. According to Ælian, it had retired from Peloponnese before the time of Homer.
The memory of the lion was preserved in its ancient haunts long after it had become extinct. The scene of one of the prettiest stories told by Ælian is laid in Mount Pangæum, which, from its mention by Xenophon, must have been a famous haunt of lions:
Eudemus tells the tale that in Pangæum in Thrace a bear attacked the lair of a lion, while it was unguarded, and killed the cubs that were too small and too weak to defend themselves. And when the father and the mother came home from hunting somewhere, and saw their children lying dead, they were much aggrieved, and attacked the bear; but she was afraid, and climbed up into a tree as fast as she could, and settled herself down, trying to avoid the attack. Now, when they saw that they could not avenge themselves on her, the lioness did not cease to watch the tree, but sat down in ambush at the foot, eying the bear, that was covered with blood. But the lion, as it were, without purpose and distraught with grief, after the manner of a man, rushed off to the mountains, and chanced to light on a wood-cutter, who, in terror, let fall his axe; but the lion fawned upon him, and reaching up saluted him as well as he could, and licked his face with his tongue. And the man took courage. Then the lion encircled him with his tail, and led him, and did not suffer him to leave his axe behind, but pointed with his foot for it to be taken up. And when the man did not understand he took it up in his mouth and reached it to him. Then he followed while the lion led him to his den. And when the lioness saw him, she came and made signs, looking at the pitiable spectacle, and then up at the bear. Then the man perceived and understood that the lion had suffered cruel wrong from the bear, and cut down the tree with might and main. And the tree fell, and the lions tore the bear in pieces; but the man the lion led back again, safe and sound, to the place where he lighted on him, and returned him to the very tree he had been cutting.
With this simple story, told probably by the wood-cutters of Pangæum to their children and handed down from generation to generation, we may conclude the history of the lion in Europe. In the remote Pleistocene age the lion ranged over nearly the whole of Europe, south of a line passing through Yorkshire and the Baltic, over
- ↑ "De Natura Animalium," iii, 21.