The Physiologus starts with the lion, the king of the beasts.

The first property of the lion is that when he walks in the mountains and scents a hunter, he erases his tracks with his tail, so that the hunter cannot follow him back to his den and capture him. The interpretation of this property is that the lion represents Christ, the spiritual lion, who in becoming incarnate covered his spiritual tracks, that is his divinity, so that those who saw him asked "Who is this king of glory?"

The lion in the van der Borcht copperplate engraving below is shown in the mountains; with a snarl he looks back toward a pursuer, his tail extended to wipe out his tracks. To the left a cave can be seen, the lion's den.

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The woodcut below (from the Rome, 1577 edition) is similar in content, though the lion is more clearly using his tail to erase his tracks. Van der Borcht has used the woodcut as the basis for his engraving, but his image is more naturalistic.


First Property of the Lion