How is the King initially portrayed in "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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The story "The Lady and the Tiger" is set in late antiquity. The King is portrayed as semi-barbaric, meaning that he belongs to a culture that is not part of the Roman Empire but instead lives in one of the areas that has contact with Latin culture, speaks a vernacular...

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The story "The Lady and the Tiger" is set in late antiquity. The King is portrayed as semi-barbaric, meaning that he belongs to a culture that is not part of the Roman Empire but instead lives in one of the areas that has contact with Latin culture, speaks a vernacular language in everyday life, but considers Latin culture a "prestige" or "civilized" culture. It is implied that the King lacks the sort of education, culture, and self-restraint he might have achieved in a more civilized environment. 

The King is portrayed initially as a relatively benign autocrat, albeit somewhat self-centered. His main fault is that having absolute power means that rather than consulting the wishes or ideas of other people, he simply acts on his own whims. As one reads through the paragraph, one is led to doubt the accuracy of the King's self-image. The narrator's ironic tone suggests that the King's self-image as a genial fixer who solves problems according to his innate benevolence differs from how others might view him. Other people might well view the king as a capricious autocrat.

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