Post-classical history

§ A Lion-Slayer Killed by a Scorpion

On the subject of lions, among our companions we had two brothers called the Banu al-Ru’am, who were infantrymen and used to go back and forth from Shayzar to Latakia (Latakia once belonged to my uncle193 ‘Izz al-Dawla Nasr, and my uncle Sultan was stationed in it – may God have mercy upon them both) carrying the messages that passed between my two uncles. They told me:

We left Latakia and looked down from al-Manda Pass, which is a high mountain-pass overlooking all the lowlands below it, and we saw a lion crouched along the river beneath the pass. So we stopped in our tracks, not daring to go down for fear of the lion. But then we saw a man approaching. We shouted at him and waved [109] our clothes at him to warn him about the lion, but he didn’t hear us. He merely strung his bow, nocked an arrow in it and walked on. The lion saw him and pounced on him, but the man shot at him and didn’t miss his heart – he killed it. He walked up to the lion and finished it off. Taking his arrow, he went to the river and pulled off his shoes, took his clothes off and climbed in to bathe. He climbed out to put on his clothes, as we watched, and he began shaking the water out of his hair to dry it. Then he put on one of his shoes and leaned over on his side. He was leaning there for a long time, so we said, ‘By God, he didn’t do too badly. But who’s he showing off to?’

We went down to him while he remained in the same position, and we found that he was dead. We couldn’t tell what had got him. So we took off the one shoe from his foot and – guess what? – there was a tiny scorpion inside that had stung him on his big toe, and he had died instantly. We marvelled at this giant who killed a lion yet was himself killed by a scorpion as small as his finger. Glory be to God the Almighty, whose will is ever executed among His creatures!

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