Friday, 15 February 2019

The Nemean Lion

Rubens, 1577-1640; Hercules and the Nemean Lion
The Nemean lion was a vicious monster in Greek mythology. It was killed by Heracles as his first labour. It could not be killed with mortals' weapons because its golden fur was impervious to attack. Its claws were sharper than mortals' swords and could cut through any armor.

The lion is usually considered to have been the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. Other tales say it fell from the moon as the offspring of Zeus and Selene, or alternatively born of the Chimera. The Nemean lion was sent to Nemea in the Peloponnesus to terrorize the city. Heracles stunned the beast with his club. During the fight the lion bit off one of his fingers.
He eventually killed the lion by strangling it with his bare hands.
In order to prove his victory, Hercules (Greek) needed to bring the pelt back to King Eurystheus, but he couldn't cut it's pelt. Athena told him to use the lion's own claws to cut it. He brings the pelt back to Eurystheus but keeps it to use as his personal armor.
This is where the story connects to the Constellation Leo myth. It is mentioned in different texts that either Zeus (Greek mythology) or Hera (Greek mythology) decide at this point to create the Leo constellation.