Leo was a great storyteller. Every town, every city, every mountain had its story. Here are a few examples extracted from the Cosmographia Del'Africa (Description of Africa, 1550, his most famous work). All page notations refer to the 1952 French edition of Leo's work by Alexis Epaulard.

Wisdom in Adventure

Leo was an adventurer; but a wise one. As evidence of this odd mix of risk taking and wisdom, he tells a story of near death in the High Atlas, on a snowy trip through the mountains:

" A few of us had departed from Fes along with a merchant caravane to cross the Atlas mountains at the end of October. In the evening, as the sun set, a thick layer of snow started falling. Ten or twelve Arabs accompanying us decided to leave the Caravane and seek shelter elsewhere in the mountains- they invited me to join them. Having heard stories about the latter's schemes to rob travelers , I decided not to bring any money with me, so I buried it near a tree which I carefully marked.
A few hours into our ride, one of them asked me if I had any money with me, which I denied- disappointed by this answer, they all asked me to remove my clothes until I stood naked, shivering in the snowy night. Having realized that I did not have a cent with me, they tried to convince me that all this was simply a joke to test my virility- a scenario I eagerly accepted as it spared my life. We continued on our way, and soon we heard the sounds of sheep. We rode in the direction of the noises and found a group of herders nestled in a cave. After examining us suspiciously, the herders invited us into their cave, where I huddled by the fire to warm a body chilled by the Arabs' bad joke. We stayed in the caves for nearly three days, waiting for the snow to stop falling. When it finally stopped, we made our way back to Fes, only to learn that all members of the Caravane were thought dead. My family had started to mourn me, believing I was dead. But God had not willed it." (Leo, 52)

Leo was a schemer.

He demonstrates this art of manipulation in a highly entertaining account of the strategy he imagined to help the King of Fes extract great quantities of money from the inhabitants of Tefza, a city the latter had just captured. At the time of the conquest, in 1509, Leo was a counselor of the chief of armies who was also the temporary ruler of the conquered lands. Amongst his responsibilities, the chief of armies had to resolve latent disputes between members of the community, notably concerning 42 merchants who were reputed to have stolen goods and property from other inhabitants. These 42 men were known to be very wealthy and the chief of armies was hoping to draw great sums of money from them to send back to Fes.

"I devised the following plan and told my ruler: Sire, when the morning comes you should make it known that you have received a letter from your king ordering that these 42 prisoners should be beheaded. Looking as compassionate as possible, tell them that you are determined to change this unreasonable verdict and will send them to Fes, with the hope that their sentence will be revoked." (Leo, 145)

The following morning, Leo's team drafted the false letter and showed it to the prisoners. Hearing this fateful verdict, the prisoners begged the chief of armies to intervene on their behalf. As counseled by Leo, the latter pronounced that they would be sent to Fes, unless of course they could gather enough money to assuage the King's wrath. The prisoners agreed. And sure enough, within a few days their families had gathered enough money to dazzle Leo, the chief of armies and even the King of Fes. Speaking about the money they gathered, Leo writes: "I had never seen such a stack of gold. It should be noted that neither had the King of Fes" (ibid, 147).