Roman Republic, Denarius Serratus

The obverse of this denarius shows the goddess Roma and on the reverse Hercules strangling a lion. He has his club at his feet and a bow and quiver to his left.

This is Hercules (the Greek hero Heracles) fighting the Nemean lion. This lion was a creature that according to Greek mythology stroke terror throughout the Peloponnesus. Hercules was commissioned to kill the beast, yet soon learned that it was invulnerable. Hence he struck it on the head with its huge club. The lion then fled into a crevice, which Hercules closed on one side. When the lion tried to escape on the other side, the hero grappled it and choked it to death. This is the scene depicted on this coin. Hercules later tailored a cape from the lion's skin, which made him virtually invulnerable. From then on the lion's skin and the club were the hero's symbols.

Year of issue

80 v. Chr.

Country

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