The Great Lion

THE LEON NEMEIOS (or Nemean lion) was a large lion, whose hide was impervious to weapons, which plagued the district of Nemea in the Argolis. King Eurystheus commanded Herakles to destroy the beast as the first of his twelve Labours. The hero cornered the lion in its cave and seizing it by the neck wrestled it to death. He then skinned its hide to make a lion-skin cape, one of his most distinctive attributes. Hera afterwards placed the lion amongst the stars as the constellation Leo.

Certain West African mythologies speak of a pride of lions who roam the stars, guarding the boundaries of the world. According to tradition, the anunciation of a chief would be heralded by the arrival of one of these great beasts, conferring fertility and prosperity on the land.