Androcles and the Lion
By George Bernard Shaw
Read How You Want, (2009)
EasyRead Large Print 16-Point Bold Edition
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 8, 2010
Shaw focuses his satiric ire upon the way his and other governments are mismanaged and how Christianity is improperly practiced in this two-act comedy. Androcles is a small, disheveled, shriveled, ridiculous looking and acting man, between 35 and 45 years of age, while his wife, a shrew, looks well fed and pampered. He is a Christian, she a pagan. He loves animals; she wants him to return, like all sensible people, to the gods.
The two run into a lion that is in great pain from a thorn in its paw. Androcles removes the thorn. The lion is so satisfied that he dances with Androcles. His wife complains that here he is dancing with a lion who he only met, while he hasn't danced with her in years. Time passes and Androcles is captured by the Romans and is brought to the Roman coliseum together with other Christians to be killed either by gladiators or by lions. The Christians are told that they can save themselves by dropping a pinch of incense in the pitcher before the pagan god. The Romans explain that they would be doing nothing wrong. They, the Romans, do not believe in these gods. Beside, the Christians can decide in their hearts that they are offering the incense to their God. This argument seems sensible.
Shaw shows that the Romans did not persecute the Christians because of their beliefs, but because the Christians did not do what the government wanted them to do. This inability of a government, including his English government, to deal properly with people who disagree exists in today's governments.
Shaw shows that most seemingly pious Christians in the play are not really pious. For example, he shows that most of the pious Christians in the play, like most Christians today, including clergy, forget their religious beliefs during war and feel a need to fight.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.