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Paeonian Kingdom, Lykkeios, 356–335 BC, Silver tetradrachm
The first of Heracles' twelve labours. Obverse Zeus within a circle. Reverse Hercules is slaying the Nemean lion ΛΥΚ K EIOY.
Paeonia is an ancient land, in what is now northern Greece that originally included the whole Vardar River valley. After the death of Perdikkas III the Paeonians maintained their freedom from the Macedonian kings until 286 BC. the revese scene referrs to the labor for which Hercules was sent by King Eurystheus (his cousin) was to slay the Nemean lion and bring back its skin. Heracles wandered the areas until he came upon the town of Cleonae. If Heracles slew the Nemean lion (who lived in a cave) and returned alive within 30 days of leaving, they would sacrifice a lion to Zeus, the king of all the ancient Greek gods. If he did not return within 30 days or he died, however, the boy would sacrifice himself to Zeus.While he was looking for the lion, he made arrows to use against it, not knowing that it was impervious. When he found the lion, he started shooting arrows at the lion, but the lion would not die. After some time Heracles made the lion return to his cave. The cave had two entrances, one of which Heracles blocked; he then entered the other. Because of the fact that the lion's skin was impenetrable, Heracles was forced to stun the beast with his club and strangled it. He then used the lion's own claws to cut off its pelt. There is another version that says that Hercules tried to shoot it with arrows, and he eventually shot it in the throat and killed it. When he returned to the King, King Eurystheus was shocked. He gave Heracles the lion's invincible pelt to wear as a cloak, but warned Heracles that the tasks set for him would become increasingly difficult. Heracles completed this task over the course of three months when he was eighteen years old.
Mint: Paeonia
Provenance: Private acquisition *

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