Ancient Art
PrevNext1 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Herakles and the Nemean Lion

ca. A.D. 160–256

Limestone

51.8 x 34.29 x 27.94 cm (20 3/8 x 13 1/2 x 11 in.)
Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos
1938.5302
The greatest of the Greek heroes, Herakles (Hercules) appears frequently at Dura-Europos, honored alongside his father, Zeus, in temples and worshipped alone in houses. He represents courage and strength and is best known for the twelve, impossible-seeming labors that he performed. At Dura, Herakles is invariably shown wrestling the Nemean lion with either the lion itself or its skin, which he carries afterward for protection and as a sign of strength. The significance of this myth for residents of Dura-Europos stemmed from the tradition of lion hunts as an activity of heroes and kings in the ancient Near East.
Culture: 
Syrian, Dura-Europos
Period: 
Roman
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Provenance: 

Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos, present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 354, no. 47, pl. 47.

Jennifer Chi and Sebastian Heath, eds., Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2011), 114, no. 41, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.