Historical knowledge

Heracles and the lion’s skin

Greeks and Romans rarely wore fur. However, mythological figures are often depicted dressed in exotic furs and skins. One example is the legendary hero and demi-god Heracles, who was the son of the god Zeus and his human mistress Alkmene.

As a punishment for murdering his wife, Heracles was ordered to undertake 12 tasks. The first task was to free the inhabitants of the city of Nemea in Greece from a vicious lion – the so called Nemean lion. However, it was not a normal lion, because it was invulnerable and nothing could penetrate its skin.

With his Herculean supernatural power, Heracles strangled the lion with his bare hands. Thereafter, he dressed in its skin in such a way that his head peeked out of its gaping jaws. Thus, a lion’s skin was one of Heracles’ attributes, which makes him easily recognizable on vases and other depictions.

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