Herakles and the Nemean Lion Artist: Unknown

ca. A.D. 160–256

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Dura-Europos

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.




20 3/8 × 13 1/2 × 11 in. (51.8 × 34.29 × 27.94 cm)

Credit Line

Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos

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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 records is ongoing.



Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (block C4 8, Temple of Zeus Megistos), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Lillian Sellati, "Doubling the Divine: A Strategy for Warding Off Evil at Dura-Europos," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2022–23), 44–45, fig. 5
  • 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
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 354, no. 47, pl. 47
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