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Storytelling in Miniature

Heinrich Aldegrever
German, 1502–about 1561

The Fight with the Lion of Nemea, from “The Labors of Hercules”

Engraving, 1550
4 1/8 x 2 9/16 in.
Museum purchase, 1923.3161

The first Labor of Hercules was to subdue and kill a powerful and monstrous lion that had been stalking the Nemea Valley. As proof of his deed the hide of the Nemean Lion was to be presented to King Eurystheus. After discovering that his arrows could not penetrate the lion’s flesh, Hercules eventually strangled the beast to death. In the background of this print Aldegrever depicts Hercules stripping the hide from the lion’s carcass. Wearing the hide triumphantly upon his return to Mycenae, Hercules presented such a terrifying figure that Eurystheus went into hiding, communicating with the demigod through messengers only.