Hercules’ First Labor - The Nemean Lion
THRACE, Perinthus. Geta.
|Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 441. Estimate $1500.
Closing Date: Monday, 7 January 2008.
Sold For $1200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
AD 209-211. Æ Medallion (39mm, 42.11 g, 7h). Labor of Hercules type. AVT P
C CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / FILADELFEI A PERINQIWN
in two lines in exergue, Hercules standing right, struggling with the Nemean Lion. Voegtli type 13a = Schönert-Geiss, Perinthos
664.1; Stoll, Herakles
7 (this coin; illustrated); Varbanov 3976 (same dies). VF, black, brown, and green patina, light overall roughness.
From the James E. Cain Collection. Ex Gorny & Mosch 112 (17 October 2001), lot 4203; G. Hirsch 183 (20 September 1994), lot 1385.
Hercules, made temporarily insane by the goddess Hera, murdered his wife and children. Once recovered, and distressed by his actions, Hercules consulted the Delphic Oracle to find a means of expiating his sin. As a punishment, Apollo replied that the hero would have to serve his cousin Eurystheus, the king Tiryns, a man whom Hercules despised, for a period of twelve years. Because Eurystheus also hated Hercules, he devised a series of ten feats of such difficulty that they would be either insurmountable, or Hercules would die in the attempt. Because Hercules received assistance in completing two of the tasks, Eurystheus added two more. Each labor became more fantastic, and eventually Hercules was compelled to break the bonds of the supernatural in order to complete his task. Once he accomplished the Labors, Hercules was absolved of his guilt, and proceeded to perform many other heroic feats.
The First Labor was to slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its skin. The Nemean Lion, called thus as it had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, had a skin so thick that it was impenetrable to weapons. After making futile attempts to subdue it with his weapons, Hercules cast them aside and wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it to death. Skinning the beast was no easy task, either. After Hercules spent hours trying unsuccessfully to skin the lion, Athena, in the guise of an old crone, appeared to him, and convinced him to use the creature’s own claws to cut the hide. Thereafter, the hide became the hero’s own impenetrable armor. When Eurystheus saw Hercules wearing his new fearsome outfit, he hid in a large bronze jar, and thenceforth commanded the hero through a herald.