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Androcles and the Lion

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  476 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Androcles and the Lion is a 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw.

Androcles and the Lion is Shaw's retelling of the tale of Androcles, a slave who is saved by the requited mercy of a lion. In the play, Shaw makes Androcles out to be one of many Christians being led to the Colosseum for torture. Characters in the play exemplify several themes and takes on both modern and
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 29th 1987 by Penguin Classics (first published 1912)
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45th out of 164 books — 56 voters
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68th out of 103 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 912)
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Nikos Tsentemeidis
Feb 28, 2016 Nikos Tsentemeidis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, owned
Ο George Bernard Shaw χρησιμοποιεί έναν από τους μύθους του Αισώπου. Ο Ανδροκλής είναι ο αδύναμος άνθρωπος με μεγαλείο ψυχής, που η ζωή του ανταποδίδει τις καλοσύνες που έχει κάνει. Από την άλλη το λιοντάρι δεν ξεχνάει την ευγνωμοσύνη που δέχτηκε από τον ευεργέτη του.
J.G. Keely
Feb 16, 2010 J.G. Keely rated it it was ok
Shaw was a man of conflicts, and though some came from without, the majority were simply Shaw running roughshod over himself. He was quick to adopt new ideas, then vehement in defending them for as long as he kept them--which was rarely very long.

He first fought to abolish censorship, then supported the right of a fascist regime to silence undesirables. He was a lifelong supporter of the people's revolution against economic tyranny, but praised totalitarian rule by both Stalin and Hitler. He con
Jason Williams
Dec 28, 2009 Jason Williams rated it really liked it
The bulk of this is not the play, but a dizzying (and I think more enjoyable) literary and historical criticism of the Bible (New Testament mostly). Perhaps half of what he says was with a smirk, but all of it serious to varying degrees.

In some very prominent ways, Shaw can be read alongside Tolstoy's essays on religion and, along with some Romantics, Transcendentalists and Liberationists, they can be very useful perspectives on grassroots and anarcho-Christianity.
Erik Graff
Jun 01, 2015 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Ken Bennett
Shelves: drama
I hadn't realized until just a few weeks ago that the tale of Androcles and the lion was current in the Roman Empire, but as a fact, not a fable. A lion actually did spare its intended victim in the Coloseum, apparently showing affection towards him. I found the reference in an academic study of the history of Roman gladitorial contests.
Feb 26, 2015 Fatima rated it it was ok
I don't know if I should begin with the 109 page "preface" or the fact that the entire book felt a bit preachy... There were times when the play itself was actually funny.
Ali Reda
Apr 16, 2014 Ali Reda rated it liked it
The Emperor is the Defender of the Faith. In throwing you to the lions he will be upholding the interests of religion in Rome. If you were to throw him to the lions, that would no doubt be persecution.

THE CAPTAIN: What is God?
LAVINIA: When we know that, Captain, we shall be gods ourselves.

And from the preface:

The modern practical form of the communism of Jesus is therefore, for the present, equal distribution of the surplus of the national income that is not absorbed by simple communism.

Paul suc
Tyler Jones
Jan 28, 2013 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I read this as an ebook - so I seem to have a slightly different edition than my fellow goodreaders, many of whom seem have enjoyed a rather lengthy introduction by GBS in which he dissects the gospels. My cheap little ebook did not include this, but instead tacked on a epilogue in which Shaw chides as all for being just as stupid and cruel as the crowds that filled the Roman forum. I could have done without this tongue lashing - I prefer a play to speak for itself and if the author feels the ne ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays, irish-lit
I keep trying to think of something to say about this play, but I have found that there is not much for me to say except for this: I think that Shaw made a point of looking critically at the Church by using an ancient example. Androcles is a rather weak man who is saved from death because of his friendship with the lion that is supposed to kill him. His kind nature is what saves him, because instead of scorning the lion when he first sees him at the start of the play, he treats it with kindness. ...more
محمد عبادة
One of Shaw's plays that are wholly devoted to discussing religion, and Christianity in particular. A lengthy introduction to the short 2-act play is actually in unison with the Shavian tradition! Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable introduction indeed, although nothing compares to the magic of drama.
Shaw renovates the old fable of Androcles and the Lion, in order to serve his view of the essence of Christianity; a true socialistic essence according to his own judgement, twisted and manipulated by t
Jun 29, 2015 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: satire, plays
The version I read did include the long introduction, but since I didn't realize that the introduction was by Shaw, himself, I didn't read it. It was also a collection of three plays: Androcles, Overruled, and Pygmalion. I'll review the other two plays separately.

Androcles was delightful. Sharp and sardonic. A lot of social commentary that was probably very “of the moment,” but Shaw’s view is broader enough that his themes and critiques still carry both sting and humor.

It's pretty light, subtle
Jan 17, 2012 Cat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow I missed this brilliant extended essay. Take this gem: " will learn how the same primitive logic which makes the Englishman believe today that by eating a beefsteak he can acquire the strength and courage of the bull, and to hold that belief in the face of the most ignominious defeats by vegetarian wrestlers and racers and bicyclists, led the first men who conceived God as capable of incarnation to believe that they could acquire a spark of his divinity by eating his flesh and drin ...more
Nov 04, 2010 Anittah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone not terribly familiar with the Bible
The short:

The preface to Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion is a recommended read for anyone not terribly familiar with the Bible. Shaw’s exegesis is funny, dry, and sociohistorically illuminating — and still relevant. Plus, the play’s pretty funny, too; mewonders if Shaw cast Androcles as a prancing fairy.

The long:

Go to
Feb 12, 2015 Mina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
Enjoyed the entirety of the preface (an exegesis and critical dissection of the bible) more than the play. Both, however, were worth the read.
David Sarkies
Feb 20, 2014 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modernist
Shaw on the Origins of Christianity
21 September 2009

This play, set in Imperial Rome, is the story of a Christian being thrown to the lions. However, the play is a lot more than just a poor defenceless soul being ripped apart by a ravenous beast, nor is it an attack upon Christianity, but rather a critical look at the church in modern times. The intention of the play seems to be to remind Christians of where they have come from and what they have become.
The play was released in 1913, during a t
Oct 19, 2015 Cari rated it liked it
The version I read was the Shaw Alphabet version of this play. I found the idea of a Shavian alphabet interesting and I might actually try my hand at learning it. That by itself would have earned this a 5 star rating but unfortunately, I was not all that fond of the actual play itsellf, or this representation of the fable and so I balanced the one star rating I would have given the story against the 5 star rating and came out with 3 stars. I guess spending my very young years having Aesops fable ...more
Chris Rasmussen
Dec 04, 2014 Chris Rasmussen rated it really liked it
Wit galore.
Apr 20, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
May 23, 2016 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, plays
Shaw uses the framework of Aesop's tale of Androcles and the lion to examine how different people exhibit (or fail to exhibit) Christian virtues. In particular importance in the play is the Christian ideal of turning the other cheek. There were many ideas similar to those in "The Devil's Disciple" but as a play I think that this one isn't as good entertainment as "The Devil's Disciple" was.

read as part of the Kindle omnibus The Plays of Shaw
Apr 25, 2008 Teryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This and Major Barbara are my favorite Shavian works, fresh and funny. He was such a brave thinker, trying to get God and the devil in front of us, trying to call on the higher instincts of humans and show us our denial and hypocrisy, and spirit.
Mike Jensen
Aug 23, 2009 Mike Jensen rated it really liked it
This is a smart satire on religious commitment, love in mixed cultures, and early Christianity. As usual, Shaw writes as if he has the final word, when his is only one perspective, but it is a powerful perspective that must be considered.
Dusty The2ofHarts-com
Classic Play Note: Although I read these plays in high school, I now have a copy of the 3 plays noted as "read," in the collection titled "3 Plays by George Bernard Shaw"
Nov 04, 2013 Retrovold rated it it was amazing
There's not much to say. Androcles and the Lion was my first ever read play as kid and coming back to it was super idea. I still love this.
Jul 05, 2016 Emmy rated it it was amazing
This was my introduction to Shaw; rest assured I have every intention of reading many, many more of his works!
Jul 09, 2011 Pat rated it liked it
I like to breeze through his plays , to be entertained and not take him too seriously.
May 18, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it
It's been years since I read it; I remember liking it well at the time.
Martha Treder
Jul 17, 2012 Martha Treder rated it it was amazing
I love George Bernard Shaw and his commentary on human nature.
Laura Wetsel
Jan 11, 2008 Laura Wetsel rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
Don't neglect the preface. I enjoyed it more than the play.
Jun 01, 2010 Dee-Ann rated it really liked it
read this in high school ... it was fun
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.” 267 likes
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