Hercules Slaying the Nemean Lion in Ancient Greece | Student Handouts
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Hercules Slaying the Nemean Lion
www.studenthandouts.com > World History > Ancient Greece > Images of Ancient Greece
Hercules slaying the Nemean lion. An early Greek vase painting. At the left are shown the nymph or local goddess Nemea, and Jolaus, the brother and companion of Hercules, holding the hero's club; at the right, the goddess Minerva and the god Mercury, watching the combat. Click here to enlarge.

Hercules Slaying the Nemean Lion The story of Hercules and the Nemean lion is one of the famous labors assigned to Hercules as a punishment for his crimes. In Greek mythology, Hercules, known as Heracles in Greek, was a demigod and a hero renowned for his incredible strength and courage. The Nemean lion was a monstrous creature that terrorized the region of Nemea in ancient Greece.

The First Labor - The Nemean Lion: King Eurystheus, who harbored a deep grudge against Hercules, ordered him to undertake a series of tasks known as the Twelve Labors. The first labor given to Hercules was to kill the Nemean lion and bring back its skin.

Hercules' Encounter with the Lion: Hercules traveled to Nemea and sought out the lion's lair. The Nemean lion was no ordinary beast; its golden fur was impervious to weapons, and its strength was legendary. When Hercules confronted the lion, he quickly realized that his arrows and sword were useless against it.

The Battle with the Lion: In a fierce battle, Hercules grappled with the lion, attempting to strangle it with his bare hands. The lion's hide was so tough that it couldn't be pierced or cut. Hercules eventually managed to overpower the lion and strangle it to death using his immense strength.

Skinning the Lion: Having defeated the lion, Hercules then faced the challenge of skinning it. However, the lion's impervious hide made this task seemingly impossible. In some versions of the myth, the goddess Athena, impressed by Hercules' bravery, provided him with a sharp golden sword to skin the lion. In others, Hercules used the lion's own claws to cut through its skin.

Returning to Eurystheus: With the lion's skin as his prize, Hercules returned to King Eurystheus to show that he had successfully completed the first labor. The lion's skin would later become one of Hercules' most iconic symbols, often depicted as a cape or mantle.

Hercules' victory over the Nemean lion marked the beginning of his epic journey to complete the Twelve Labors, each of which was designed to atone for his past deeds. It also demonstrated his incredible strength, resourcefulness, and bravery, which would be repeatedly tested in the subsequent labors.
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