Ca. 1st–2nd century AD. Roman. A superbly cast lion protome with the rich full mane of overlapping wavy locks, the lion’s mouth open wide, the muzzle naturalistically rendered, the deep-set lidded eyes beneath the modelled ridged brows. In the classical world, lions symbolized power, wealth, and might. They were famously featured in many ancient myths, perhaps the most famous being that of Hercules (Greek Herakles) slaying the Nemean lion for his first labour. That lion’s fur was believed to be impenetrable to attacks since according to legend it was made of gold and its claws were far sharper than swords with the power to slice through armour. In the end, Hercules defeated the lion by strangling it and wore its skin. Lions were also favourite iconography for buildings, coins, and statues in the ancient world. Examples include the Lion Gate to the Citadel of Mycenae, the Terrace of the Lions on the island of Delos, and the lion hunt mosaic from Pella featuring Alexander engaged in a lion hunt.

Size: L:58mm / W:51mm ; 73.5g

Provenance: Private FL. collection, ex. Bonhams, 11/8/2001, lot # 135.

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