MINIATURE BRONZE LION
Miniature bronze lion from a vessel dedicated to Athena. Acropolis Museum (Inv. No. X 6657). Early 6th century BC
The lion, with its ferocity, majesty and awe-inspiring strength, never ceased to fascinate the ancient Greeks. At Mycenae, two lions carved in relief were the gatekeepers of the citadel, while in Delos nine marble lions guarded the sanctuary of Apollo. At the Acropolis of Athens, huge lions dominated the pediments of the Hekatompedon (i.e. 100-feet long) Temple of Athena, while miniature lions adorned bronze vessels of the sanctuary. The formidable strength of Herakles was conveyed by the myth of his wrestling defeat of the Nemean lion. Lion hunting became a royal sport. Such a hunt was portrayed on the famous “Alexander Sarcophagus” from the royal necropolis of Sidon (Archaeological Museum, Istanbul).