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Nemean Lion (First Feat)

Hercules fighting a lion
Hercules fighting a lion.
(Roman copy from the sculpture group of Lysippus, IV century BC)

Hercules settled in Tiryns and became a servant of the weak, cowardly Eurystheia. Eurystheus was afraid of the mighty hero and did not let him into Mycenae. He passed all his orders to the son of Zeus in Tiryns through his messenger Kopreya.

Hercules did not have to wait long for the first commission of King Eurystheus. He instructed Hercules to kill the Nemean lion. This lion generated by Typhon and Snide, was of monstrous magnitude. He lived near the city Nemei and devastated all the surroundings. Hercules boldly set out on a dangerous feat. Arriving in Nemea, he immediately went to the mountains to find the lion's lair. It was already noon when the hero reached the slopes of the mountains. Not a single living soul was to be seen anywhere: neither shepherds nor farmers. All living things fled from these places in fear of the terrible lion. Hercules searched for a long time along the wooded slopes of the mountains and in the gorges of the lion's lair, finally, when the sun began to incline to the west, Hercules found a lair in a gloomy gorge; it was located in a huge cave that had two exits. Hercules filled up one of the exits with huge stones and waited for the lion, hiding behind the stones. Quite in the evening, when dusk was already approaching, a monstrous lion with a long shaggy mane appeared. Hercules pulled the string of his bow and shot three arrows at the lion one after another, but the arrows bounced off his skin - it was hard as steel. The lion roared menacingly, his roar rolled like thunder over the mountains. Looking around in all directions, the lion stood in the gorge and looked for the one who dared to shoot arrows at him with eyes burning with rage.

Hercules strangles the Nemean lion
Hercules strangles the Nemean lion.To the right is the goddess Athena, to the left is the nymph of the neighborhood of Nemea.
(Drawing on a vase)

But then he saw Hercules and threw himself with a huge leap at the hero. The club of Hercules flashed like lightning and fell with a thunderous blow on the lion's head. The lion fell to the ground, stunned by a terrible blow; Hercules rushed at the lion, wrapped his mighty arms around him and strangled him. Shouldering the slain lion on his mighty shoulders, Hercules returned to Nemea, sacrificed to Zeus and established in memory of his first feat nemean games. When Hercules brought the lion he had killed to Mycenae, Eurystheus turned pale with fear, looking at the monstrous lion. The King of Mycenae realized what superhuman strength Hercules possesses. He forbade him even to approach the gates of Mycenae; when Hercules brought proofs of his exploits, Eurystheus looked at them with horror from the high walls of Mycenae.