The lion is indisputably the ultimate figure of power in Middle Ages: it is represented profusely in heraldry and has a prominent place in bestiaries. Apart from the traditional character known as the “Chevalier au Lion” (The Knight of the Lion), the animal can also be found in some narratives which feature the relationship of a lion and a child or an infant. In this case the feline, either male or female, nurses the child. This article aims at thinking about the role of the “nursing lion” in the hero’s childhood, and the influence of this special milk on the future epic hero, using excerpts from La Belle Hélène de Constantinople, Lion de Bourges and Octavien.
Human-animal breastfeeding, lion, milk, kinship, chanson de geste, Middle Ages