Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis. Hercules strangling the Namean lion.

Ancient Coins - Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis. Hercules strangling the Namean lion.
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Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis, Thrace. AV K L CEPT CEVHEROC, laureate cuirassed bust right / ADRIANOPOLEITWN, Hercules strangling the Namean lion. hadrianopolis AE26 Moushmov 2586. No.1270.

Labor 1: The Nemean Lion

Initially, Hercules was required to complete ten labors, not twelve. King Eurystheus decided Hercules~ first task would be to bring him the skin of an invulnerable lion which terrorized the hills around Nemea.

Setting out on such a seemingly impossible labor, Hercules came to a town called Cleonae, where he stayed at the house of a poor workman-for-hire, Molorchus. When his host offered to sacrifice an animal to pray for a safe lion hunt, Hercules asked him to wait 30 days. If the hero returned with the lion~s skin, they would sacrifice to Zeus, king of the gods. If Hercules died trying to kill the lion, Molorchus agreed to sacrifice instead to Hercules, as a hero.

When Hercules got to Nemea and began tracking the terrible lion, he soon discovered his arrows were useless against the beast. Hercules picked up his club and went after the lion. Following it to a cave which had two entrances, Hercules blocked one of the doorways, then approached the fierce lion through the other. Grasping the lion in his mighty arms, and ignoring its powerful claws, he held it tightly until he~d choked it to death.

Hercules returned to Cleonae, carrying the dead lion, and found Molorchus on the 30th day after he~d left for the hunt. Instead of sacrificing to Hercules as a dead man, Molorchus and Hercules were able to sacrifice together, to Zeus.

When Hercules made it back to Mycenae, Eurystheus was amazed that the hero had managed such an impossible task. The king became afraid of Hercules, and forbade him from entering through the gates of the city. Furthermore, Eurystheus had a large bronze jar made and buried partway in the earth, where he could hide from Hercules if need be. After that, Eurystheus sent his commands to Hercules through a herald, refusing to see the powerful hero face to face.

Many times we can identify Hercules in ancient Provincial vase paintings or sculptures simply because he is depicted wearing a lion skin. Ancient writers disagreed as to whether the skin Hercules wore was that of the Nemean lion, or one from a different lion, which Hercules was said to have killed when he was 18 years old. The playwright Euripides wrote that Hercules~ lion skin came from the grove of Zeus, the sanctuary at Nemea:

First he cleared the grove of Zeus of a lion, and put its skin upon his back, hiding his yellow hair in its fearful tawny gaping jaws.

Euripides, Hercules, 359

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Quotazione: 08/02/21

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