All you need to know about the story of the Nemean lion and Hercules

The ancient stories of mythologies consider strong men as the ones that slay powerful, magical creatures and demons. One such famous hero from Greek mythology is Hercules who has found much attention due to his antique attire. Usually, most of the warriors are identified as holding powerful weapons and armors but Hercules is found with a lion head, lion crown and skin as his costume. This primitive costume has distinguished Hercules in Greek and Roman art and culture. Even today people love to wear significant accessories like nemean lion signet and nemean lion pendant. They feel it as a badge of bravery and warrior spirit, while some just buy it for styling sense. 

The Nemean lion & Hercules - Who were they? 

Hercules is the best-known hero in Greek mythological stories. He served as the protector of the weaker people as he was strong and adventurous. While Nemean lion was the monstrous beast who lived in Nemea city where all the citizens were scared of his terror. Many people tried to kill him but no one succeeded, hence king Euryetheus commanded Hercules to slay that beast. It was one of the twelve tasks for Hercules. 

The Story of Hercules and the Nemean lion

Legend says that Hercules had to do a considerable amount of ordeal before he figured out a way to kill the creature. 

The story goes that Hercules behind the bushes to understand this lion’s actions. The lion was having a full feast with bits of blood, flesh, and meat all around his mane. While the lion was returning back to his den, Hercules shot arrows toward him but to his surprise, all the arrows bounced back. Hercules was unaware of the impenetrable skin the lion possessed. So he followed another plan by blocking one entrance of his den. 

In the darkness of the lion’s den, he struck the lion's head with a sword; however, that did not work as well. Fortunately, Goddess Athena appeared in front of him telling him about the lion’s strengths. After this, Hercules decided to choke the lion with his bare hands and was successful in strangling him to death. Although in the process, Hercules lost one of his fingers. 

Why did Hercules wear the lion's skin?

Hercules realized that the lion pelt could be important armor for warfare. However, when he decided to cut out the skin of the lion, his knives and blades were of no use. Therefore he used lion claws to rip off the skin and extract the pelt. That pelt was carried by Hercules on their shoulder as a protective cloak while he used the head as the valiant crown. 


Roman culture is popular for creating different artworks based on this story such as the Nemean lion painting, Hercules fighting the Nemean lion painting, and Hercules lion painting. The skin story has been their greatest attribute of Hercules because it helps him to identify as a unique and powerful warrior. This theory somehow relates to the fact that this skin helped him to survive for thousands of years. His complete appearance made him look the more primitive and legendary hero. Due to this mythology, people believed that animal skin gives the same kind of power to the wearer.