Nemean Lion

Marble statue. St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum A498.Hreakles wrestling with lion. Syracuse coin <I>Obv.</I> c.390-380 BC, gold. Berlin.Detail from Athenian black-figure clay vase, about 520 BC. Bresica, Museo Civico Romano.

The first Labour of Herakles was to kill a lion which was terrorising the countryside around Nemea. The lion was impervious to Herakles' arrows, so he attacked it with his club, and then strangled it to death. He thereafter wore the lion's impenetrable skin, with its head serving as a form of helmet. In early art he attacks it with a sword. Most representations make the contest like human wrestling, sometimes 'on the canvas', and even throwing the lion over his shoulder.

Above left: Marble statue. St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum A498. © State Hermitage Museum. Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 171

Above middle: Hreakles wrestling with lion. Syracuse coin Obv. c.390-380 BC, gold. Berlin. © Kraay and Hirmer pl. VII,129

Above right: Detail from Athenian black-figure clay vase, about 520 BC. Bresica, Museo Civico Romano. © Bresica, Museo Civico Romano.